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Home>Goods In & Out>Loading bay safety>Prevention better than cure

Prevention better than cure

03 November 2014

Mark Moore, service manager at industrial and garage door manufacturer Hörmann, explains how preventative maintenance contracts are central to good health and safety planning.

With the transportation and storage industry involved in more accidents with workplace vehicles than any other sector, it’s hardly surprising that safety is at the forefront of loading bay design.

Logistics businesses are now able to significantly reduce the risk of a whole host of accidents, thanks to the technological advancements that make automation a common feature of many loading bays. Equipment and safety procedures have influenced each other’s development, with safety mechanisms being increasingly integrated into warehouse designs.

Traffic light systems, wheel locks and sequenced operating systems offer some of the more technical solutions to safety concerns, while enhanced natural lighting, reduced slip hazards and better training are practical measures that are being adopted in industrial operations across the country. At Hörmann, we’ve seen an increase in demand for both more complex technical systems and for simple design solutions, such as transparent panels in roller shutters to improve visibility.

As the focus on safety increases, so does the demand for manufacturer-backed service support. The wider use of automated equipment means a greater reliance on technology for safe and efficient operations, something logistics businesses are starting to recognise, with maintenance becoming a central part of commercial planning.

In the run up to Christmas, preventative maintenance is particularly important. With distribution networks at maximum capacity, cold weather or accidental misuse of equipment by potentially inexperienced temporary staff can easily lead to breakdowns and costly emergency call-outs. And with safety systems often mechanically integrated into the loading bay, the consequences of downtime aren’t just financial.

An increase in emergency call-outs is to be expected in the winter months; however, in the last few years Hörmann has seen companies requesting additional checks of functioning equipment to prevent any further problems. As businesses begin to recognise the value of prevention over cure, scheduled maintenance packages with 24 hour emergency support are becoming the norm. 

Mutli-brand fixed price servicing is another choice that is proving particularly popular. Allowing customers to utilise one maintenance provider for a range of equipment, these packages offer greater flexibility and value, while simplifying service schedules and regulatory compliance.

With detailed documentation and audit trails often required for risk assessment and insurance purposes, some maintenance providers are offering real-time reporting as part of their support package. Using tablet computers, service engineers are linked to a central system, where all assets and maintenance schedules are logged. Such a provision allows engineers to instantly see the up-to-date records of assets, and log all actions and recommendations in one place.

These service options not only assist with budgetary control and financial planning, enabling businesses to deliver an increased return on investment, but they also help to streamline maintenance processes and personnel through a single point of contact, saving both time and expenditure.

All of this investment is geared around providing a much more streamlined service that can schedule routine maintenance around operational needs, and deliver the rapid response needed in the event of a mechanical breakdown or due to accidental damage.

In addition, Hörmann strongly advises businesses to ask for extended warranties in supplier service contracts where possible, which will add even greater value and peace of mind.

It’s clearly recognised that safety should be at the heart of any loading bay, but with winter on its way, it’s easy for the Christmas rush to get in the way of maintenance plans. Logistics companies, however, need to be fully prepared for what the busy, cold season will bring, with the safe running of a docking area having the potential to be the difference between a successful or disastrous festive period.