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Loading in development

18 April 2013

The major retailers have been leading the development of new warehouse infrastructure for the last few years. Improving safety has rightly been the main priority; however, energy saving measures and improved sustainability are also key factors in the designs adopted.

Hörmann has been at the forefront of many of the design developments introduced, with new products and new ideas incorporated into many projects. A policy of continual improvement means that equipment evolves and new products are introduced to include the latest thinking and technology. 

A number of trends have been set, including the increased use of fast action doors, the adoption of design techniques from the frozen and chilled industry, greater integration of loading systems and the adoption of more energy efficient peripheral equipment. All these developments are becoming interlinked to maximise safety and efficiency.

For example, increasingly popular fast action doors, which help to reduce draughts and minimise heat loss, require the addition of safety devices such as the award winning Hörmann Light Grille, because of the increased risk of collision with lift trucks and pedestrians. Many major online retailers are also fitting fire shutters alongside fast action doors to add to the safety and security of larger warehouses.

Energy saving measures and designs adopted from the frozen and chilled sector include the use of dock levellers with telescopic lips. This simple solution prevents the dock leveller becoming a thermal bridge, by allowing an insulated door to close in front of the leveller when a bay is not in use. 

Greater integration between the loading bay components can add significantly to the safety in this high risk area for all warehouses. For example, the Hörmann Dock Control is a comprehensive safety control system that links the loading door and dock leveller controls to proximity sensors and warning traffic light systems. With all the components manufactured by Hörmann, they are designed to integrate seamlessly.

A dock buffer with integrated proximity sensor guides a vehicle onto a loading bay via the external traffic light system. Once on the bay a wheel chock, also with integrated sensor, needs to be correctly positioned before the loading door controls will operate. Similarly the dock leveller can only be operated once the door is opened. The latest option is the addition of the Hörmann fork lift barrier. Available with new dock levellers, the barrier comprises solid bolts that protrude from the platform when the leveller is in the parked position. Only when the leveller is activated do the hydraulically operated bolts recess.

The barrier not only stops lift trucks from driving through an open door, before a vehicle is in position and the leveller properly engaged, but also prevents accidental collision damage to the closed door.

Many of these integrated options help to minimise heat losses and therefore add to the sustainability of new builds. However, the sustainability of a new build also depends on its flexibility to adapt to changing business needs. At the IMHX show, Prologis outlined its view of future warehouse developments which includes greater flexibility, particularly in the loading bay area. This way a single design can meet operational requirements in terms of safety and efficiency for many years. 

Bays are not only being developed to accept a wide range of vehicles but also so that they can readily be adapted to a new configuration if required. The new design direction is leading to the increased use of longer dock levellers, dock shelters, dock houses and inflatable curtains. Longer dock levellers enable a greater range of vehicle heights to be accommodated safely, while the use of inflatable heads offers the flexibility to accept double-deck, "standard” and aerodynamically styled trailers on the same bay. Irrespective of the vehicle type docked, an efficient seal is created to minimise energy losses.

The use of inflatable curtains not only adds to the type of vehicle that can securely be docked but also can provide a seal around the sides of a trailer, particularly advantageous for frozen food operations. Here double door systems, where a truck is docked into a lobby area before a second insulated door is opened into the frozen storage area, are another design element that can help to minimise energy usage.

Similarly the use of an external dock house can create a lobby area or simply add greater flexibility to accommodate automated systems, for instance. A highly specific arrangement can be created for a particular business need or contract, yet the ability to simply unbolt a dock house and reconfigure specific bays to meet changing needs is a straightforward route to managing a significant change of operation.

Service and maintenance contracts that maximise the lifespan of equipment are additional elements that add value and improve the sustainability of new developments. 

Keeping up with the latest developments could be a full time job, which is why Hörmann offers a complete one stop shop service from initial consultation, design, installation and ongoing service support to maximise the value of its customers' investments.

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