The Role of the Dock Area
The dock area is a bustling hub of movement and productivity. To enter or exit your warehouse, everything must first pass through the dock area. In a demanding supply chain landscape where shipments are moving faster than ever, the loading dock and surrounding shipping and receiving area play an increasingly important role. With these factors in mind, there are some basic considerations we want to take into account when designing a dock area.
Besides the basic inbound and outbound traffic, you might have receiving operations, staging of outbound shipments, breakdown of pallets, and re-palletizing happening in the dock area. So it’s important to look at this area and make sure there’s enough room for all of this activity.
One common method is to simply measure from the dock itself to the first column line and leave this area open. However, the distance allowed before the first column line can vary greatly by building: sometimes the dock area is 30 feet, while newer buildings are allowing up to 60 feet. This is nice if you do require a large open area because there are no columns blocking your way. But that’s also a lot of space given up that might be taken away from the rack system. As is often the case in material handling, the best strategy is the one that works for your unique application.
Warehouse Dock Area: Where to Start
Where’s the best place to start if you want to begin designing your warehouse dock layout? First, analyze your current operations. Just as with pallet rack systems, it helps to have hard data available. How many shipments are entering and exiting the warehouse in a given time period? Is the warehouse receiving shipments mostly from one size of truck or several different types of trucks? Once you’ve collected and analyzed the information needed to better understand your current operations, it’s time to start planning.