You may think of your loading dock as the catcher in a game of baseball – it has control of the ball for almost every defensive play but seldom gets the glory for ‘just catching’.
Virtually every manufacturing facility or warehouse has a shipping facility. Most items of the warehouse such as inventory, finished items, incoming goods, and items to be shipped will typically make their way through the loading dock. As you might imagine, this makes your loading dock one of the key areas of your business. An efficient loading dock makes a significant contribution to the overall efficiency of your business. If you can find ways to significantly increase the efficiency of your loading dock, then you’ll automatically be increasing the profitability of your business. The best and easiest way to maximize your loading dock’s efficiency is to make sure you have the right tools and equipment to get the job done as quickly and problem-free as possible.
The Main Issue with Loading Docks are Bottlenecks
If you think of your entire production process as a flow diagram, then you might imagine that the more room the process has to flow, the better things will be. You are quite correct – and issues arise when the flow process is narrowed. This creates a ‘jam’ or bottleneck where the flow can back up creating issues further up the chain. The less ‘bottlenecks’ you encounter, the easier your entire production will flow.
Maximizing the Efficiency of Your Loading Process
The greater speed that a shipment is processed, the more efficient the tail end of your entire production process can function. You can increase speed by having the right tools used to load the trucks that are leaving your warehouse.
If you’re currently managing this process by hand, then you are relying on the fitness and physical efficiency of your workforce. Investing in pallet jacks or pallet trucks will take the physical strain away from your workforce and increase their efficiency – even if your pallet trucks or pallet jacks are operated manually.
For increased efficiency you can invest in a motorized pallet jack or pallet truck, taking even more strain away from your workforce.
Maximizing the Efficiency of Unloading
You might think that maximizing the efficiency of your unloading process is exactly the same as maximizing the efficiency of your loading process. Well, you’re halfway there!
The main difference between loading and unloading is that when you are loading for distribution, all your items are ‘going’ to one place. When it comes to unloading, it’s unlikely that one shipment is delivering absolutely everything you need for your production process. Therefore, as well as having either motorized or non-motorised items for your production floor, you’ll need to have a plan in order to make sure your items get to precisely where they need to be in the minimum amount of time. Fortunately, most modern computerized inventory systems will provide a facility that will enable you to plan efficiently.
Why Decreasing Manual Labor Will Help you Improve your Efficiency
Loading docks are busy places, and because there is a lot of movement and ‘traffic’, safety becomes a huge issue. Did you know that a quarter of all injuries within warehouses occur at the loading dock? Injuries lead to your manpower being reduced, and if you have insufficient safety protocols in place you could even be open to a variety of litigation issues.
Therefore, reducing manual labor at your loading dock will decrease the chances of an accident occurring, and will reduce your overall accident rate as well. By providing material handling equipment, you will reduce the strain placed on your workforce. You will also be able to free up members of your staff – particularly those employed at your loading dock to be used elsewhere.
Don’t neglect the needs of those still involved in your loading dock operations, though. Improve the ergonomics of your working practices and everyone will benefit.
Use Conveyors for Your Loading and Unloading Process
Pallet jacks, pallet trucks and forklifts are excellent additions to your material-handling arsenal, but there are still more efficient ways in which you can increase your loading and unloading capabilities.
The issue with pallet jacks and trucks is that while they are great at getting items from point A to point B, while they are at point A, they cannot be at point B, and vice versa.
If the demands of your loading and unloading are continual, then you may wish to think about installing a conveyor system. Items received at the point of delivery are loaded onto the conveyor at point A, and the conveyor system transports them to point B without any manual intervention at all. The beauty of this system is that the conveyor is always at point A, and is always at point B at the same time!
The Right Tools for the Right Job – the Key to Maximizing Loading Dock Efficiency
Your loading dock is a vital area for your business, and has the potential to be the number one source of bottlenecks for your entire production floor process. There may be an initial expense when it comes to purchasing items of material-handling equipment such as pallet trucks, pallet jacks, forklift trucks, or other equipment, but if you are improving the efficiency of your loading dock then you will be saving money in the long run. By improving the efficiency of your workflow, you’ll also be increasing the chance of boosting your profits.
Of course you’ll need to understand which items of material-handling equipment are going to work best for your specific business, which is where Douglas Equipment comes in. Not only can we supply you with any type of material-handling equipment, we can also offer you advice on which items would be the most suitable for your business. We stock items from all the top equipment suppliers in the USA, including Morse, Wesco and Harper Hand Trucks.
For more information call 1-800-451-0030, or contact us via our web form today.