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A loading dock is a recessed bay in a building or facility where trucks are loaded and unloaded. They are commonly found on commercial and industrial buildings, and warehouses in particular.

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.[1]

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.[1] 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.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 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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