sara LBS has installed two new dock levellers at one of the UK’s largest food production facilities, replacing older units that were approaching the end of their design life and ensuring that demanding supermarket delivery schedules can be met.
The factory employs around 200 people and has regularly invested in new plant and technology. It produces 1,000,000 individual items a day, including many leading brands, which are distributed to retail networks in the UK and overseas. It is located to facilitate excellent transport logistic: being adjacent to a major motorway, several rail lines and with immediate access to several seaports.
To make the most of these transport links dispatch has to be an efficient operation with trucks arriving and leaving throughout the day to meet demanding UK delivery schedules and to coordinate with ship departures.
The project to design and install the new dock levellers was headed up by Alan Ryder, Area Sales Manager for sara LBS: “We had to custom design both of the levellers as the pits that the existing machines occupied were a unique configuration. With a 4m long platform, the levellers are longer than typically supplied, which provide a rise capability (operation above dock) of 490mm to align with the bed height of the vehicles.”
Dock levellers are the most efficient way to load and unload lorries with cargo. They provide a bridge from the warehouse floor straight into the trailer providing a workable gradient, allowing freight to be wheeled straight in and secured for transport in a continuous operation.
However, as the trailer fills, the increasing weight of the cargo acts on the suspension causing the floor to gradually lower. For this reason dock levellers are able to pivot about one end so that the leveller lip stays in contact with the trailer’s floor, thus providing a smooth, step-free path.
The leveller has a lip at the front, which prior to operation is parked vertically at the front of the main platform. To deploy the leveller the hydraulics raise the platform to align with the trailer’s floor, then the lip swings out and the platform/lip hydraulically lowers onto the vehicle to provide a gap-free route for the freight to be rolled over. Once positioned, the lip is free to pivot so that it remains in contact with the trailer’s floor throughout the loading or unloading operation.
sara LBS is a full-capability loading bay specialist and as well as dock levellers can supply scissor lifts, roller shutter doors, curtain doors and all the other technologies required to guarantee safe and efficient load, such as lighting, heating and safety systems. Its experts can help develop the optimum design for any loading bay and are fully conversant with the special requirements of particular industries, such as speed and cleanliness in food manufacturing and pharmaceuticals and heavy lifting for automotive and general manufacturing.
Alan concludes: “In a high throughput loading bay, energy consumption can be considerable, and anything that can be done to help contain it is usually appreciated by the client. In this case we were able to power the hydraulics with modest 1kW motors, so the power required to raise the leveller is minimal.
“Another part of sara LBS’s expertise is the ability to install loading bay equipment with minimum disruption to the client’s normal operations. We installed each of the two levellers over separate days to there was always one in operation. We also arranged to take away the old levellers and dispose of them properly.”