Your loading dock takes a beating day in and day out. Not only does it provide safe accommodation for heavy equipment and trucks, it’s also suspect to the very occasional bangs, bumps and calamities that are bound to happen when a large truck is backed into a narrow space.
Routine maintenance of loading dock parts and equipment is a foundation for keeping the loading bays in your warehouse or manufacturing plant functional, safe and efficient.
Loading Dock Equipment Maintenance 101
The following tips will assist you and your personnel in creating a routine maintenance plan so the equipment has a chance to perform as designed every day of the week.
1. Keep an organized binder or single-reference-point. If you haven’t done so already, keep a binder with originals or copies of the manufacturer’s instructions and references for every part comprising your loading dock. Many companies keep great records, but they are all filed away into different file folders, at different desks, or are digitally archived under miscellaneous headings. By keeping a single binder in the warehouse office, it will be easy to access those references when you need them. The maintenance records should be housed here as well and old records should be archived and kept for at least 10-years.
2. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, you’ll want to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to what parts need what maintenance, at what intervals. Not only do manufacturer’s know best, they are sticklers for details when it comes to warranty claims. By doing what they say to do, when they say to do it, and providing time-sensitive records, any potential warranty claims will be taken care of more efficiently, and with a minimum of hassle.
3. Create a calendar. Now, organize the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions by date and make a note in the calendar. Now your maintenance team will have a schedule to follow, be it weekly, monthly, bi-annually and so on. Use a calendar alert system so key personnel know what needs to happen when. They can consult the binder or maintenance guide for further details.
4. Clean, clean, clean. Cleanliness is key. The addition of spills or debris can result in slip-and-fall hazards or equipment failure that is detrimental to a worker’s health and safety. Always clean and/or remove any noticeable debris, spills or other objects that are out of place. Depending on the activity level of the loading dock in question, this may require hourly attention.
5. Visual inspections. Visual inspections sound simple, but they are an integral part of any loading dock maintenance program. Look for signs of wear-and-tear that may compromise the way a particular part will work. Are dock bumpers maintaining their shape or are the notably worn on one side of the other? Take a close look at the chains, hinges and springs in your mechanical and hydraulic levelers. Examine the tracks and seals around the loading dock doors and make sure the doors are operating safely.
6. Test safety system. From lighting systems to alarms, and trailer-restraint systems – the facility’s safety mechanisms should be tested regularly. Any signs of failure or questionable operation should be addressed immediately.
7. Change light bulbs before they go out. Lighting is a critical component in your loading dock’s safety plan. If a light bulb goes out, you have a potential safety issue on your hands. Know the average lifetime of each light in the loading dock, bay and immediate warehouse vicinity and set up a lightbulb change system. The goal is to replace a bulb before it goes out. Have plenty of replacements on hand so you can replace any bulb that burns out before anticipated.
8. Refresh signs, taped and/or painted lines. It’s easy to ignore fading signage or chipped or missing lines. However, new employees, delivery persons and others are not as familiar with the terrain as your crew, and these lines are integral to safe entrance and egress in and around the loading dock area. Make sure the signs and lines are refreshed regularly so they are bright and obvious in appearance.
Always maintain clear, organized and detailed records of routine maintenance tasks so they can be checked at a moment’s notice. Keeping loading dock maintenance records up-to-date will ensure that even the smallest maintenance items are taken care of in a timely manner, and before they can lead to bigger and more serious issues.