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Understanding Dock Shelters-Keeping Your Warehouse Climate Controlled

Lifestyle And Fashion

 Understanding Dock Shelters-Keeping Your Warehouse Climate Controlled

If you deal with cargo that requires environmental and temperature control to assure it remains in optimal condition, you will likely find dock shelters at the heart of your operation. While these seem like a simple structure, they can create a critical seal around the trailers on your loading bay. This ensures seamless transition from inside of the vehicle to storage in the warehouse, without risking climate conditions becoming unstable during loading and unloading.

Here, we ask the experts to detail how important dock shelters are to various types of cargo, and explain how they work to preserve the ambient temperature of your working environment.

What is a dock shelter?

A dock shelter is essentially a specialised enclosure. It extends from the exterior wall of your loading bay, to form a seal around a vehicle that is docked upon it.

Parts included in a dock shelter are:

  • Side and head pads - Constructed with durable fabrics, these are made to form a tight seal around the top and side of your trailer.
  • Frame – providing a rigid support structure for the shelter ensures that the shape is maintained and any contact with vehicles does not break the seal.
  • Optional extras- some dock shelters may have inflatable seals, translucent materials, or guide strips to aid with the operation of loading and unloading.

The importance of dock shelters in various settings

  • Temperature control – Arguably the most vital function of a dock shelter is its ability to maintain climate control. For food storage, pharmaceuticals and sensitive material supply chains, dock shelters are vital in ensuring products are in optimal condition.
  • Energy efficiency- A side benefit of a dock shelter is that it will prevent the release of heated or cooled air. This will significantly impact the energy cost associated with maintaining temperature control.
  • Ingress protection- Water, ice, and wind can buffer the warehouse doors. Having a sealed environment in which to load and unload goods means that water ingress will be kept at bay, protecting not only the goods themselves but the loading area as well.
  • Pest control - It is far less likely that your warehouse will suffer pest invasions if you have a dock shelter. It can prevent birds, rodents and insects entering the warehouse.
  • Safety - As they provide a more sheltered environment, dock shelters can reduce exposure of your workers to the elements, and provide a safer working environment.

What type of dock shelters are there?

The dock shelter you choose will likely be driven by the facility you operate and the vehicle requirements. Options include:

  • Retractable dock shelters – The side and head pads on these retract when they are not in use. This can minimise the risk of any damage when a vehicle is misaligned on the dock.
  • Inflatable shelters - These allow for an adaptable solution for various vehicle sizes. They can provide exceptional strength when it comes to the seal around the vehicle.
  • Cushion shelters - Foam pads are used to make a good seal, which can be ideal for facilities that have uniform vehicle sizes.
  • Rigid shelters-These are designed for specific vehicle sizes. While they are less flexible, they offer optimal weather protection.

How to choose a dock shelter for your facility

There are several considerations to make when opting for a dock shelter for your loading bay.

  • Vehicle size and dimensions – If you have a variety of different shapes and sizes of vehicle at your loading bay, you will need an adaptable solution to work with this.
  • Climate control requirements – Inflatable seals might be needed if you have strict temperature requirements for your cargo.
  • Environmental requirements- If your facility is exposed to harsh weather conditions, it may be necessary to consider this when choosing a dock shelter.
  • Budget- Obviously, you will have a budget to work within.

Speaking to professionals in loading bay equipment will give you expert knowledge about the benefits, likely costs and maintenance requirements of different types of dock shelter.

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