If loading dock openings are not sealed properly, they can leave facilities vulnerable to infiltration of insects, water, dust, dirt, and other contaminants. Here are some steps on how to get a complete seal at the loading dock to help protect against these potential hazards.
1. Look for light. When a trailer is in place and the dock door is opened, examine the perimeter around the trailer and dock leveler and look for areas where you can see light. If there’s daylight, there’s a gap to be filled. Different gaps will need to be sealed by different products. Understanding what kinds of gaps exist will lead to more informed decisions on properly sealing them.
2. Examine different sealing options. Not all seals and shelters work for every situation at the loading dock. Foam compression style dock seals generally offer a greater deal of energy efficiency, but can suffer significant wear-and-tear due to constant friction. Additionally, foam and other material can protrude inside of the trailer when compressed, interfering with forklift loading. In contrast, perimeter-sealing dock shelters offer full access loading since they seal along the side of the trailer, but unless the right model is selected, sealing efficiency tends to be significantly lower than that of a compression style seal.
3. Remember the fourth side. While it is critical to effectively seal gaps at the top and along the sides of the dock opening using a dock seal or shelter, don’t forget the “fourth side”—the bottom. Gaps typically exist below and around the dock leveler and bumpers, and present stubborn challenges for sealing out contaminants. Installing an under-leveler pit seal provides a barrier against dirt and rodents, in addition to reducing energy loss. Inside the facility, lip corner seals, filler pads, and other components help fill tough-to-seal gaps where the dock enclosure, leveler, and bumpers all meet.
4. Consider vertical-storing levelers. Vertical levelers differ from pit-style levelers in that they allow the loading dock door to close directly onto the pit floor, minimizing outside air and pest infiltration. This configuration also allows trailer doors to be opened inside the facility, which further enhances environmental and product control inside the loading dock area.
Using a system of products including the right dock seal or shelter, an under-leveler seal, and a vertical leveler, a complete seal can be achieved to help keep pests outside. A reputable loading dock equipment provider who is trained to provide expert environmental control analysis can recommend the most effective system of product solutions.
Blaser is director of marketing and business development at Rite-Hite Environmental Enclosures Corp. Reach her at 888-841-4283.
AUTHOR DISCLAIMER: The information herein is provided as a general reference regarding the use of the applicable product(s) in specific applications. This information is provided without warranty. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are using all mentioned products properly in your specific application and in accordance with all laws and regulations.