Quality Door and Dock Solutions Breathe New Life Into Aging Facilities
10/20/2012 6:26 PM
Growing Older, Not Always Better
There are thousands of aging (roughly 25 years or older) warehouses, manufacturing plants, and other commercial and industrial facilities throughout the Greater Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area. These facilities can present significant challenges when they are acquired by a new company, redeployed, or when their use evolves based on operational changes and increased volumes of activity.
An aging facility’s ability to handle operational growth and change can depend on many factors and typically isn’t apparent until after the changes have taken place. This inconvenient truth can adversely impact a facility’s efficiency, safety, maintenance time and costs, and overall productivity relative to door and dock operations.
An increase in the volume of truck traffic in and out of an aging facility is one consequential change. Others include changes in types and styles of material handling equipment, changes in the products being handled, and changes in the heating and cooling of the environment (conditioned warehousing).
A fundamental change in how an aging facility is deployed can also have a substantial negative impact on operations. For example, a deployment change from a manufacturing facility to warehouse facility can increase truck traffic and call for longer life from the door and dock equipment. Often legacy door and dock infrastructure is not up to this challenge, thereby increasing the likelihood of premature equipment failure resulting in safety hazards.
Balancing operational growth and change with the challenges of aging facilities is not about achieving perfection with regard to door and dock solutions. It’s about defining an operational roadmap, determining the best price/performance ratio for door and dock investments, achieving long term ROI, and ensuring productive, safe, sustainable operations. It takes substantial experience and product knowledge to effectively address door and dock operations challenges.
This is where a seasoned door and dock solutions vendor can add substantial value. An experienced vendor will put its time tested consulting and planning skills to work when a client needs door and dock infrastructure audited, upgraded, or overhauled. A quality vendor will listen actively to understand operational goals, assess short and long term requirements, and determine possible courses of action. From there it’s easier to define the best solution for each particular application or requirement.
A quality vendor will be up-to-date on commercial door and dock trends, innovations, product developments, and industry guidelines. It will know what to look for and what questions to ask to develop a complete, accurate understanding of the facility, proactively identify relevant issues, and anticipate future needs.
Helping a National Logistics Leader
Recently American Door and Dock had the opportunity to help one of its clients with the challenges of an aging facility. DSC Logistics is one of the nation’s leading supply chain management companies with strength at both the operational and strategic levels. The DSC nationwide network includes more than 45 logistics centers and a transportation management center located at its corporate campus in Des Plaines, Illinois.
DSC’s main transportation hub in Des Plaines fits the profile of an aging facility. It’s approximately 50 years old. Its 27 docks and exterior doors are tasked with accommodating steady growth and change in a fast paced, high volume traffic environment. DSC faced several challenges and considerations with its transportation hub that are common to many other aging facilities.
The proper style and size of dock bumper for a given application depends on the approach (the decline angle of the dock) and the type of truck traffic. Dock bumpers prevent trailers from hitting the building walls or getting underneath the dock bumpers and causing significant building damage. DSC had dock bumpers in place but they were not a good fit for the environment and were not properly applied. As a result, the dock bumpers were damaged and DSC’s trailers were impacting the building walls.
Due to damage from trucks, DSC needed concrete work to bring the docks back up to operational standards. This included extending the dock bumpers to achieve proper dimensions and truck clearance. American fulfilled these requirements with a custom designed and fabricated steel solution, specified a new style and size dock bumper, and replaced the old bumpers with high performing new Nordock bumpers. The result is high performing docks with new, effectively integrated equipment built to work, last, and protect.
Without efficient dock seals in place, dock operations are at risk for wind and rain penetration, energy loss, invasive pests, unsafe loading and unloading conditions, and damage to products and equipment. High performing dock seals are especially important in regulated operations such as food and pharmaceuticals where preventing environmental threats is mission critical.
DSC had docks seals in place, but they were damaged and not working properly from being over compressed due to problems with the dock configurations and bumpers. The seals were lasting only 2-3 months before needing to be replaced, instead of the expected 7-10 year useful life span.
After projecting the dock bumpers out farther to protect the building, American specified a new style and size dock seal, and replaced the old seals with high performing new Nordock seals. Besides the protective and energy saving benefits of efficient dock seals, DSC will see a much longer wear life from the new seals.
Overhead Doors and Tracks
Overhead doors in older facilities can present several significant obstacles to change and growth. In older facilities the overhead door openings tend to be lower than in more modern buildings. Every inch of opening space is valuable. But older overhead doors are difficult to lift due to weakened springs. This can cause the doors to drift down into the openings, resulting in fork trucks impacting and damaging the bottom sections of the doors.
American helped DSC spot opportunities to mitigate the drift down effect, improve energy efficiency and weather protection, lower maintenance costs, and enable easier operation by upgrading about half of its exterior overhead doors. American helped DSC achieve these benefits by specifying and integrating quality C.H.I. sectional doors.
Another door related challenge American helped DSC address is that of narrower door openings which are common at older facilities. Narrower overhead door openings increase the risk of pallets hitting the door tracks, disrupting door operation, and damaging the tracks. To address this challenge for DSC American integrated track guards, heavy gauge metal coverings that attach to the wall by the door tracks. Track guards go over the tracks of the doors and protect them. This keeps pallets from hitting the tracks and keeps dock doors operating despite impact from pallets.
New Life for an Older Facility
With these improvements DSC’s facility has a new lease on life. The benefits and advantages include enhanced safety, more efficient operations, long term maintenance cost reduction, energy cost savings, and a more productive work environment overall for employees.
“American Door and Dock has played a vital role in helping us effectively enhance the infrastructure of our main facility to accommodate growing and changing activity,” says DSC’s Jim Maday. “American understands our motivations and took them into account when developing solution options. Their innovative approach fulfilled our operational goals and got the work done right, on time, and on budget. We’ve seen plenty of tangible benefits and ROI, with more to come.”
“We know our customers have a choice in door and dock services,” says Greg Kwolek, American Door and Dock Solution Specialist. “We like to let our quality service do the talking. But our edge is proactive strategy which helps customers like DSC achieve maximum return on their door and dock investments.”
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