Safer Dock Operation on Tap for Beverage Distributor

March 1, 2008
This case history about Better Baked Foods comes courtesy of Ridg-U-Rak . It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content

This case history about Better Baked Foods comes courtesy of Ridg-U-Rak . It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

As part of an industry that promotes safe and responsible use of its product, Ben E. Keith Beverage strives for safety at their facilities. Ben E. Keith (BEK) is part of the distribution network for Budweiser and other nationally known brands and is Budweiser’s largest privately owned distributor.

When it comes to safety at the loading dock it is that short trip from the warehouse to the truck bed that needs the most attention. To minimize the risk for their drivers this Dallas-based beverage distributor equipped 14 remodeled dock positions with the latest SERCO® equipment. The additions at their Record Crossing facility include SERCO HFC Hydraulic Dock Levelers, Universal Truck Chock® In-Ground Wheel Restraints and SERCO ULTRA SEAL® dock seals. For additional safety and ease of operation, these products are tied together with the SERCO Master Control Panel™.

The same line-up of doors services both inbound and outbound traffic round the clock. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., 30 to 57 truckloads of beer and other beverage products arrive at the dock. Crews then load BEK trucks in the late evening and into the early morning for shipments to stores throughout Texas the next day. Having the trucks securely in place for all this traffic is important to management. Until the remodel the BEK Beverage crew threw rubber wheel chocks in front of the wheels in an effort to keep the trucks from moving. According to facilities manager Johnny Jones, “we found that didn’t work. A couple of years ago we had a truck that crept away from the dock as the brakes leaked and we’ve worked hard to not run that risk again.”

The management team saw the Universal Truck-Chock in-ground wheel restraints at a nearby facility, and along with the safety the equipment provides they liked how the flush in-ground mounting does not interfere with driveway traffic. In addition, the in-ground wheel restraints can handle any style of truck that pulls up to the BEK dock.

The hydraulically operated in-ground wheel restraints have a 16” high steel wheel chock that engages the rear tire of the trailer and provides continuous restraining force. By capturing the rear tire, the restraint is able to reduce the probability of landing gear collapse, trailer creep or trailer walk. For both ease of maintenance the hydraulic pump and motor is mounted inside the building above each doorway. The conduit runs through the foundation wall and is imbedded in the driveway to the wheel restraints, providing a cleaner installation.

Operation of the in-ground wheel restraints is automatic. Once activated, the system seeks the rear tire and automatically adjusts the amount of power applied to the wheel while the red / green LED light system communicates to the dock attendant and truck driver. SERCO provides LED lights on their equipment to ensure a clear view of dock status regardless of visibility from the weather.

SERCO HFC hydraulic dock levelers are designed and built to meet the unique demands of high volume operations like BEK. They offer minimum lip crown for a level approach in and out of the trailer. The design prevents door and ceiling interference in high-cube loading conditions. BEK elected to equip their levelers with optional Dock-Guard Barrier Lips, a 5” high, solid steel barrier designed to prevent forklift run off from the dock when the leveler is in the stored position.

Standard features like the patented HYDRA MAX® lip extension, regenerative hydraulics, internal velocity fuses, and CLEAN FRAME® design make SERCO hydraulic dock levelers the preferred equipment choice for docks that need high performance and low maintenance.

The SERCO Master Control Panels installed at each door fit in well with the BEK Beverage safety program, which includes forklift driver certification, prominently displayed signage that prohibits truck access until the wheels are chocked and limiting control panel operation to designated personnel. The Master Control Panels allow the dock equipment to be interlocked to operate in a particular sequence.

Once the truck is parked at the dock the dockworker activates the wheel restraint. Neither the dock leveler nor the powered dock door can be operated until the wheel restraint is engaged.

Conversely, the wheel chock will not release the truck until the door and the leveler are stored properly. The interior and exterior LED red & green communication lights let the driver and dockworker know the status of the dock equipment system.

Along with providing added safety by sequencing dock equipment operation, the Master Control Panel provides a more aesthetic appearance by consolidating the individual control boxes for the various equipment into a single drop. This design reduces the number of conduit runs, thus lowering installation and maintenance costs.

Once the equipment was commissioned the local SERCO distributor, Southern Dock Products, set up training classes for the dock crew. This facility experiences rather high employee turnover but because of the operational simplicity, the trained employees will have no problem instructing new hires.

Johnny Jones notes, “our employees are very positive about the push button operation of the Master Control Panel and we are happy with the extra measure of reliability we have for safer dock operation.” welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Clyde Witt([email protected]), MHM Editor-in-Cheif. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.