What do you do, when vehicle loading and unloading must be fast, efficient and reliable and warehouse space is actually at a premium? Loading bay pods that effectively extend the building may be the solution. Alan Ryder, Area Sales Manager at sara LBS (Loading Bay Specialists) looks at the advantages pods can bring to a busy logistics centre.
The drive to improve organisations’ operational performance and hence profitability is constant, so eventually all stages of all processes are reviewed and if possible improved. Often such improvements can only be made if space is found on the shop floor to allow free movement of personnel or to accommodate new equipment.
Therefore, in goods handling operations, it may be that adopting improved processes appears impossible because there is insufficient space available. However, a possible solution to this dilemma is to install loading bay pods, also known as loading houses. These can - somewhat simplistically - be equated to prefabricated outhouse style extensions to a warehouse which provide pop-up loading bays.
Dock loading pods form a complete loading bay enclosure which can be installed directly on to the face of a building. Once a truck has reversed into position, the pod provides excellent energy saving and weather protection, while also enhancing hygiene and safety.
As the dock leveller, scissor lift and/or other loading bay equipment is housed within the pod no warehouse space is lost and existing operational procedures can continue to be used.
The main elements of the dock loading pod are an insulated housing with a dock seal, dock leveller and sectional insulated overhead door. With sara LBS loading bay pods there is a range of options for each of these elements, while the pods themselves are designed so that the layout is flexible and can be adapted to each individual situation.
There are many benefits to using loading bay pods. As well as not losing internal warehouse space, there is no need to excavate the floor and pour a concrete slab to support the loading bay equipment. Load bay pods are completely self-contained units so have minimal construction requirements; in fact they can be installed quickly and simply, often with no impact on operations going on within the warehouse building.
The flexibility inherent in sara LBS’s pod design means they come in a range of sizes and shapes to suit the installation, can be fitted with a range of door types and with the doors in different positions. They are able to accommodate dock levellers and other equipment that aids rapid vehicle loading and unloading. Significantly, when a number of pods are installed side by side partition walls are optional; they can be fitted to create discrete and separate loading bays, or omitted to give a large open plan working space.
They can also be configured to work with trucks fitted with tail lifts, require little adaption of the existing building and have a high quality and attractive architectural finish.
In line with today’s energy efficiency and health and safety requirements sara LBS pods provide a significant level of energy saving so that their internal working environment is comfortable for operatives. This also contributes to the correct handling of goods that are heated, chilled or require hygiene considerations.
Various options for lighting are available, an important consideration for both personnel safety and operational efficiency. Similarly, sara LBS pods are designed so that they can be integrated with traffic lights, wheel guides, buffers, bollards and other vehicle guiding and control equipment.
While loading bay pods are usually retrofitted to existing building to provide extra space or promote efficient working they can also be fitted to new-build warehouses and storage facilities. Often this is to maintain the flexibility of the building’s internal spaces. Sometimes it is because they can be angled into a saw tooth array along the side of the building which reduces the need for truck drivers to manoeuvre in the restricted space found in many goods yards. In some cases, I even suspect they are specified on new build projects simply because the architect likes the look of an array of them all lined up together!
As with all sara LBS equipment, there are optional maintenance contracts available. These cover different lengths of time and can be adapted to meet the specific needs of each installation.