Dock Equipment Raises the Bar for Food Safety

With food manufacturers focusing more on prevention than reaction when it comes to food safety, supply chain managers are looking carefully at the products they utilize everyday for their loading dock operations.

By Josh Brown, Contributor

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Food and beverage manufactures and distributors rely on maintaining cleanliness, environmental control and a tight seal at the dock to survive in an extremely competitive market. These operations often run multiple shifts with tremendously high loading cycles and require equipment that can stand up to the increased concerns of food-borne illnesses, allergens and contamination.

And now that the focus on food safety is more about prevention than reaction, supply chain managers are looking carefully at the products they utilize everyday for their loading dock operations. One of the best ways facilities can prevent food related contamination is to use proper dock equipment, which can increase both safety and performance.  And while most contamination takes place inside a facility, the best place to start prevention is outsidethe facility on the loading dock.

Vehicle Restraints. One of the ways to prevent food related contamination and keep products fresh starts by using a vehicle restraint system that is designed to prevent a trailer from moving away from the warehouse loading dock.  This premature departure breaks a tightseal which opens up a facility to gaps along the dock door and leveler where unwanted dirt, debris and pests can enter.

Available in both mechanical and powered models, the unique technology, minimal maintenance and easy operationhelp prevent this early departure to assist in maintaining a tight seal on the dock.

Dock Levelers. The dock leveler is the main piece of equipment that connects the inside of a facility or warehouse to the back of the trailer.  Utilizing a dock leveler that provides a tight seal and helps operations sustain a clean, efficient warehouse environment is more important than ever. Vertical storing dock levelers and air-powered dock levelers are unequalled in the industry for environmental control.

Vertical storing dock levelers mount directly to the loading dock floor and work in conjunction with insulated dock doors to prevent food contamination by allowing the door to be closed flush to the floor.  Unlike conventional pit-style dock levelers, they eliminate the air and light infiltration around the leveler reducing the threat of spoilage and contamination.

Air-powered dock levelers deliver safe, powered performance on the dock.They are built with an open frame and clean pit design to provide easy access to the pit floor for cleaning and scheduled maintenance. 

Perimeter Seal. Dock leveler perimeter weather seals provide a superior seal along the sides and rear of the dock leveler and block dirt, debris, insects andpests from entering the facility. The innovative design closes off the gaps between the dock leveler and concrete pit walls that are typically missed by traditional weather seal or under-leveler seals attached to the front of the dock leveler.

Dock Seals and Shelters. These products have been shown to have a significant positive impact when transporting perishable food items since they help maintain the quality of products in between loading and unloading thanks to the tight seal they provide. Dock seals and shelters provide an effective barrier against the elements to keep loading docks safe and efficient. They provide a positive seal between internal and external environments which keeps pests on the outside and a clean facility on the inside.

Dock Doors. Most dock doors are standard equipment that do not provide many benefits, other than theft deterrence. Anymore, impactable overhead dock doors provide more than just theft deterrencethey offer a superior seal to keep products fresh and contaminants and potential pests out.

There has been more attention recently on the dock door's ability to seal the opening in food and beverage operations. Doors equipped with a thick foam panel and compression bottom seal provide high quality thermal protection to preserve the warehouse's temperature and also keep extreme weather and debris out. This helps maintain the integrity of perishable items and shields them from weather conditions outside.

Today, some door models offer new features that provide a doorway seal to pass inspections and help maintain their product integrity. With doors providing higher panel heights, it reduces the number of panel joints by 50%, compared with conventional doors and gives a more effective seal around the full perimeter.  And some manufacturers are going as far as adding dual compression side seals that are mounted to the door panels and removed from the impact zone when the door is open, preventing seals from sustaining damage.

Equipping food and beverage manufacturing or distribution facilitieswith the right equipment to help prevent concerns about food-borne illnesses, allergens and contamination has never been more important as our nation's food supply demands continue to grow.

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