Interlocking Dock Equipment for Safety: Loading Dock Best Practices

Posted On: May 26, 2015 in Dock Levelers

Without proper safeguards, loading docks present a number of serious safety hazards. Moving truck trailers, cargo flows and elevated dock platforms left unguarded create dangerous fall and crush risks. These risks are not new. Historically, companies have explored ways to improve dock safety; however, most methods rely on employees and drivers following strict procedures. Despite good intentions, these procedures require error-free execution by humans. And humans, as we all know, aren’t perfect.

In response to the need for improved dock safety, Kelley Entrematic developed a system to interlock dock equipment that virtually eliminates human error from the docking process.

Kelley master control panel
Kelley Master Control Panel

At the heart of this system is a master control panel. This panel uses robust logic and controls to coordinate several loading dock sub-systems, including the vehicle restraint system, dock leveler and dock door opener. The system ensures the docking/loading/unloading/departure sequence can only occur in a safe, predefined manner with the required use of safety systems.

In the receiving state, the master panel only allows operation of the vehicle restraint system and prohibits operation of the dock leveler and dock door opener. Once the system detects that the vehicle restraint is engaged, it locks the restraint — keeping the trailer secured to the dock — and allows the opening of the dock door. Once the dock door is fully opened, the master panel shuts off power to the dock door opener and allows the operator to activate the dock leveler. When the trailer is ready to depart, the operator returns the leveler to the home position. When the leveler is in the home position, the door controls become active and allow the operator to close the bay door. Once limit switches detect that the bay door is closed, the powered door opener is turned off, keeping the bay door closed. Only with the bay door securely closed does the system allow the operator to disengage the vehicle restraint and permit the trailer to depart.

While no system can prevent every accident, the well thought-out design of this sequential system ensures operators follow proper docking safety protocol, helping to minimize fall risks and injuries from unanticipated trailer movement.

This surprisingly affordable loading dock system is a tangible way to improve worker safety. McKinley Equipment is a leading installer for this system for facilities throughout California and the Southwest. To learn more about this system and how it can improve safety at your loading dock, contact McKinley Equipment today.