Door and loading bay maintenance

Loading bays are a key interface between a company's main operations and the logistics and distribution functions that connect it to its customers. Therefore, an equipment failure in the loading bay is likely to have a direct and immediate impact on both customer relations and profitability. Good maintenance and servicing plus an emergency call-out contract with a reputable provider are the best ways to keep the wheel of business turning, says Martyn Nixon of sara LBS.

Good maintenance and servicing plus an emergency call-out contract with a reputable provider are the best ways to keep the wheel of business turning, says Martyn Nixon of sara LBS.

Loading bays can be very busy places, where the equipment is worked hard and people have to focus on the job in hand. Often, they are in use for long hours each day. As a critical part of the main conduit to happy customers, it is important that they are always in perfect working order and that, in the event of a breakdown or damage to equipment, repair is fast and efficient.

The first step to making sure that your loading area operates reliably is making sure the right equipment is specified and that it's installed correctly. While this may seem like common sense, it's surprisingly common for failures to occur shortly after installation which should have been easily avoided. Simple mistakes like specifying a scissor lift or dock leveller which can't support the required load, or low cost doors that are easily can lead to problems from the first day of operations which can only be remedied through replacement.

When a loading bay area is being specified it's vital that you work with a company that can offer a complete service; from initial specification and equipment sourcing, through to design and installation. For example, sara LBS is able to work with contractors, architects and end-users to make sure a loading bay meets the functional and aesthetic requirements of any application.

Simple mistakes like specifying a scissor lift or dock leveller which can’t support the required load, or low cost doors that are easily can lead to problems from the first day of operations which can only be remedied through replacement.

Once the equipment has been installed correctly, the best way to ensure that the machinery is always running at its best is to have a contract for regular maintenance with a suitable company. In fact, most manufacturers and suppliers of equipment such as loading bay doors and scissor lifts offer maintenance and service contracts, under which they will regularly attend site and conduct routine services. This may include lubricating moving parts, retensioning drive belts, testing electrical equipment, checking for wear and tear, etc.

Typically, they will also replace at least some parts each visit. Sometimes the replacement will be to a time-based schedule; other times it will be because they have detected some small damage or defect that could lead to failure at just that moment in time when important deliveries are due for dispatch.

The service engineers will have a base of knowledge that extends beyond simply knowing how to fix their company's equipment. They will probably also be able to service all the equipment in the loading bay – even if it is made by a rival manufacturer – thereby reducing the number of service visits required.

They will also have a good working knowledge of relevant regulations and guidelines, such as the Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). As such, they may offer suggestions on best working practices, new equipment, etc.

Loading bay equipment tends to be robustly built and electrically driven, so is usually reliable, provided it is used and maintained appropriately. It can have a very long working life, and should provide an excellent return on investment.

So it is perhaps not surprising that one of the most common reasons for an emergency call-out is not equipment failure, but damage. Typically a vehicle will have backed into and broken a loading bay or roller shutter door. Such an accident can greatly impede on-site operations, particularly if the door is unable to open fully, which may render the loading bay partly or completely unusable. Further, it can also be a serious health and safety issue for site personnel, perhaps forcing them to adopt unergonomic goods' handling practices or exposing sharp edges, trip hazards, etc. Another issue could be a damaged door being left permanently open, which would be a security risk; could be a health and safety issue if animals or bacteria entered the workplace; or could damage energy efficiency if heated or chilled air is free to escape.

An equipment failure in a loading bay is likely to have a direct and immediate impact on both customer relations and profitability.

sara LBS offers one, three and five year service contracts to help make sure that loading bay equipment is well-maintained throughout its life. Whether you bought your loading bay equipment from sara LBS or elsewhere, its multi-skilled engineers are able to ensure that loading docks, scissor lifts, dock shelters, high-speed doors, etc. are maintained to the highest standard. Contracts include regular servicing of equipment, preventive maintenance to stop a problem before it leads to downtime, and regular site inspections. sara also offers rapid response services for damages and sudden breakdowns for its own equipment and for that from other manufacturers.

Each contract is tailored to the client's specific needs and will include free quotations or technical advice. The service engineers travel to site with a comprehensive range of spares and parts so that most work can be completed immediately. For larger items its regional depots maintain stocks of most parts so that time to repair is minimised.

In today's competitive industrial landscape there is a high expectation of guaranteed delivery and most customers take a dim view of excuses like 'everything is ready for dispatch, but the loading bay is out of action'. Regular servicing and pre-emptive maintenance make the need for such explanations almost non-existent.

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