In this exclusive interview with Neil Davis, vice president of Western Europe at Assa Abloy Entrance Systems, we discuss how industry trends impact on loading bay operations.
SHD: What trends/changes to the industry have impacted on the type of entrance systems we see in the warehouse?
Neil: The rise in e-tailing has certainly made a difference to the distribution centre. There is a distinct difference between RDC to RDC traffic and DC to Customer. Some larger operators are employing double-deck vehicles for overnight trunking between their hubs, with the rise in taller trailers requiring dedicated, properly equipped bays and specialist equipment. Home delivery vehicles are loaded from stations which must be capable of servicing low-beds/7.5tn/smaller HGV’s, making one bay for both types a specialist commodity. Every operation seems to be different, with unique requirements demanding very different systems and equipment, or more flexible equipment. The Crawford Combidock is one solution, being longer than a standard dock leveller to cope with bigger height differences as well as having retractable tangs to enable safe contact with narrow bed vans.
SHD: Why is it important that businesses are innovative when implementing products and processes into their supply chain?
Neil: It is vital that logistics supply chains stay current. Outdated processes ultimately equate to reduced efficiency, which in the busy world of logistics is an expensive and avoidable cash-drain. Well specified modernisation can have significant benefits to operational flow, ensuring your facility can handle changing trends. Forecasting future consumer trends is difficult at design stages, so an effective supply chain must respond to market movements.
SHD: How can Assa Abloy Entrance Systems help improve safety around the loading bay, specifically preventing drive-offs?
Neil: This is quite possibly the most significant concern for fleet operators and warehouse management. Despite great improvements in the available systems, the loading bay is still considered the most dangerous place in any warehouse according to the HSE. We have looked at the most serious concerns, such a vehicle creep and “drive-off” from different angles, using the latest research and technology to inform our R&D. We now offer a wide cross-section of solutions, the most suitable of which can be tailored to building layout and design. From concept solutions, such as so-called ‘Key Management Systems’ which allow a traffic office to lock down loading bay doors until vehicles have fully docked and undocked, to Crawford wheel restraints which hydraulically lock trailers in place until operators release them. You should look at the vehicle movement, traffic intensity and operative behaviour as part of the circumstantial investigation before recommending creep and premature departure prevention systems. A wide variety are available to explore.
SHD: How can you help our readers reduce energy loss through the loading bay?
Neil: One of the most topical of questions, particularly in light of increasing energy costs. As with any industry leader, we offer our clients the service they need, whether at the design stage of a new facility or refurbishment of an existing building. In almost every case, whether working with designers, developers or end-users energy efficiency is high on the agenda. We provide consultation on operational needs using practical tools, such as energy surveys and heat-loss calculators to map building size, temperature, usage and heating/cooling costs. We show the available options, their benefits and other contributing factors, to build a comprehensive potential solution for each bay.
Automated access control systems can help reduce unnecessary thermal losses, as can specialist loading bay products like the Crawford ISO-dock levellers, Albany high performance cold storage doors and Day/Night solutions. The requirements change from case to case and location to location, but the key to our continued success is having a broad mix of specialist, build-to-spec solutions and tried and tested, highly quality products.