Going faster in the loading bay

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The need to move goods through the warehouse more rapidly is having an impact on loading bay design.

The past few years has seen a trend towards moving smaller volumes of goods faster through the supply chain, and the impact on warehouses has been dramatic. Cross-docking has become common, and e-commerce has driven even more rapid throughput. Hörmann UK’s project director, Tom Langley, says: “When designing loading bays, manufacturers now have to take into account the high level of operation that will be required of the product. For example, Hörmann UK’s loading bay equipment has been pre-designed to account for the heavy traffic that has begun to build in busy loading bays. “To allow products to move in and out of the warehouse as efficiently as possible, the optimum design would be “cross dock”. This would mean that goods go in one side and out the other, however this usually doubles the amount of loading bays at a distribution centre. If this process were to be adopted, the goods inside would be designed to accept all vehicle shapes and sizes, whereas the goods on the outside would need to be tailored to their own fleet.” The growth of online shopping has increased the demand for loading bays. In addition to a larger number of online sales to process, customer expectations for speed has meant a particular focus on the development of the efficiency and safety of loading bays, says Langley. “In an aim to keep up with online trade, companies are having to use a variety of vehicles for their operations, all with different loading requirements. In the last 18 months alone we have seen a trend for van bays develop. Fortunately, one of the primary benefits of the loading bay is its ability to function with different types of vehicles, meaning that manufacturers are able to provide a flexible approach for customers whatever their vehicle requirement. In urban logistics environments, developers are looking at multi-storey warehouses – a development that has significant implications for loading bay design. For example, Gazeley is planning a three-storey 426,000 sq ft warehouse in East London, which will use platforms to allow HGVs and other vehicles to access each level. Each storey will comprise 140,000 sq ft of space with 26 dock doors and 4 access doors on each level. This could become a trend. Gazeley points out that with scarce land available in London and an increasingly on-demand economy, distribution and logistics operations must find new and innovative ways to keep up with increasing delivery volumes demanded in shorter time periods. Technological development One of the most anticipated technological developments is the potential interconnection of computing devices to loading bays, where information can be sent and received via an internet connection in conjunction with a phone, or voice-controlled system for example. Langley says that when using loading bays, this means that a door can automatically send an error report direct to the service division when a problem occurs. This will be a predominant feature across all loading bay equipment in the future. “However, there is already a wide scope of innovative technology available for loading bay equipment. Hörmann UK has found that the intelligent docking systems with built-in sensors are proving to be increasingly popular. These systems can be connected to traffic light signals to warn the driver of the distance between the rear of the trailer and the dock buffers. “High-quality equipment and the latest technology can significantly lower the risk of malfunction, however many companies are also making use of service packages offered by manufacturers. Regular service schedules ensure that equipment is up to scratch and flag up any potential technical difficulties before they become safety hazards. Most loading and unloading is done manually, although automation is most an option on the loading bay. Langley says that with Hörmann’s loading bays the automation starts once a vehicle is off-loaded, this is to ensure that the process is as safe as possible. A selection of Hörmann UK’s systems even prevent the door from opening until the vehicle is properly docked and the wheel chocks are securely in place.”

Thorworld for Sovereign
Sovereign, which supplies of take away food packaging, has installed a Thorworld loading platform at its new Leighton Buzzard site. “Our business relies on effective container loading and unloading facilities,” says company founder and chairperson, Barbara Feldman, “and while the new Leighton Buzzard premises has recently been refurbished, and offers improved logistical benefits, we knew we would have to source and install a suitable loading solution for the building to be truly effective.” A bespoke solution was configured by the Thorworld team that would make logical use of two of the building’s existing level access doors. Designed for internal installation, the platform featured two dock levellers, one aligned to each door; two double hinged barriers to the front and three to the rear; tread plate decking; and access steps with a side platform.

Integrated solution for Boyes
Boyes, the value retailer, has moved to a total double deck solutions from Transdek involving both loading bay lifts and fixed double deck trailers. In the last development Boyes has taken delivery of a fixed double deck trailer that has been specifically engineered to accommodate the company’s 1830mm high roll cages on urban deliveries. The trailer dovetails with Transdek’s modular loading bay installations at Boyes’ main distribution centres at Havers Hill and Hopper Hill in Eastfield, North Yorkshire, which include three 12 roll cage vehicle to ground lifts, a 6.5T 12 cage double deck lift and three mezzanine floor lifts, as well as three dock levellers built into a modular extension. The new 11.8 metre step frame ambient trailer replaces two rigid lorries previously required to service Boyes’ regional stores and makes multi-drop deliveries over a predefined network of daily routes. “Transdek has worked closely with us to develop the ideal fixed double deck solution to meet the demands of our store delivery profile and diverse product mix,” says Mike Gaines, Distribution Manager at Boyes. “The lifts and trailer work in synergy to provide a very effective distribution package. Transdek also ensures maximum uptime with a full range of maintenance services of all equipment.”

Wine merchant picks Joloda and Tiger
Wine merchant Lanchester Wines has replaced eight standard trailers in its commercial vehicle fleet with two new purpose-built curtainsiders from Tiger Trailers – a move made possible thanks to the inclusion of a Hydraroll loading system from Joloda. The 13.7m tri-axle trailers were developed by Tiger, in conjunction with Joloda, to help Lanchester Wines streamline logistics between the company’s four warehouses in the North East. Joloda’s conveyor system features a moving slip chain floor built into the loading bay which extends into the trailer itself, creating a seamless transition between the two. The system is capable of loading or unloading up to 24 pallets of wine in as little as 80 seconds, a process that previously took 40 minutes – equating to a time saving of 97 per cent per load. Lanchester’s logistics manager John Mitcheson says: “We invested close to £450,000 on the full Joloda system, which is the first of its kind for a UK wine business. The system means that while our vehicles are on the road, our warehouse team are able to pick and prepare the stock ready for instant loading when the driver returns.

Bulldoor for Ravatherm
Ravatherm UK, which makes extruded polystyrene for the building trade called on Union Industries when it needed a robust door for its Hartlepool warehouse. Union Industries installed a Bulldoor to the goods-out area to segregate it from a loading bay to help prevent dirt, dust, insects and other foreign bodies entering the storage area. The Bulldoor is designed for larger, high use internal openings, or average sized external openings. As well as improving working conditions, controlling temperatures and maintaining high hygiene standards, Bulldoors out in the field regularly complete in excess of one million cycles a year. Ravatherm’s Bulldoor is operated automatically by radar motion sensor for forklift truck traffic, giving an automatic open and close capability to the fast acting door.


This feature first appeared in the July issue of Logistics Manager. 

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