Loading docks may be exterior, flush with the building envelope, or fully enclosed. They are part of a facility's service or utility infrastructure, typically providing direct access to staging areas, storage rooms, and freight elevators.
In order to facilitate material handling, loading docks may be equipped with the following:
- Bumpers - protect the dock from truck damage, may also be used as a guide by the truck driver when backing up.
- Dock leveler - a height-adjustable platform used as a bridge between dock and truck, can be operated via mechanical (spring), hydraulic, or air powered systems.
- Dock lift - serves same function as a leveler but operates similar to a scissor lift to allow for greater height adjustments.
- Dock seals - compressible foam blocks against which the truck presses when parked; seals are used at exterior truck bays in colder climates where this will provide protection from the weather.
- Truck or vehicle restraint system - a strong metal hook mounted to the base of the dock which will hook to the frame or bumper of a trailer and prevents it from rolling away during loading operations, can be operated via manual, hydraulic, or electrical systems; this system can replace or work in conjunction with wheel chocks.
- Dock light - a movable articulating light mounted inside the dock used to provide lighting inside the truck during loading operations.
Warehouses that handle palletized freight use a dock leveler, so items can be easily loaded and unloaded using power moving equipment (e.g. a forklift). When a truck backs into such a loading dock, the bumpers on the loading dock and the bumpers on the trailer come into contact and create a gap; also, the warehouse floor and the trailer deck may not be horizontally aligned. The most common dock height is 48” – 52”, though heights of up to 55" occur as well. A dock leveler bridges the gap between a truck and a warehouse to accommodate a forklift.
Where it is not practical to install permanent concrete loading docks, or for temporary situations, then it is common to use a mobile version of the loading dock often called a yard ramp.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Sophia Greenbaum. "Whole Building Design Guide: Loading Dock". National Institute of Building Sciences. http://www.wbdg.org/design/loading_dock.php. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
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