A loading dock serves as a critical part of any system involving moving freight from trucks to stores or warehouses. The proper design and construction of the loading dock improves the efficiency and safety of the freight handling process.
There are many options for constructing a loading dock, which involve proper planning and layout of the loading dock area. Existing buildings often use a sloped pit to lower the truck to provide loading dock height at floor level to the building.
Plan the area of the loading dock. Make sure there is enough room for a tractor-trailer unit to maneuver and back to the loading dock. Provide enough overhead clearance, at least 14 feet, for lighting and signage.
Excavate a sloped pit for the truck to back into. Standard height at the loading dock, the back of the pit, is usually 48 inches. Make the slope of the pit as gradual as possible with many utilizing the entire 80 foot length of a normal truck to create a slope of 1 foot vertical drop for every 20 feet of slope. Use concrete or blocks to form the sides of the slope and concrete or asphalt pavement for the floor of the slope.
Extend the loading dock from the building. The angle of the slope places the top of the truck closer to the building than the floor of the truck. A sharp slope of the truck pit requires a longer extension of the loading dock from the building. Include an adjustable loading ramp to compensate for minor differences in truck floor heights and a bumper to protect the building from truck contact.
Install doors 8 feet wide and 12 foot 6 inches high in the loading dock openings. This size accommodates the entire door on the rear of the truck. Overhead sliding doors are most commonly used. Add weather sealing around the door.
Make sure all floor surfaces are non-slip and capable of supporting the weights of the freight being moved as well as any forklifts or other equipment being used. Comply with all safety regulations concerning slopes, stairs and the loading dock.
Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.