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Rite-Hite advises on how to best 'close up for winter'

04 December 2023

RITE-HITE IS urging customers to think about their current operations and any gaps - literally and metaphorically - in their current thinking to maintain a safe, efficient and productive loading bay throughout the winter months.

It highlights in particular the steps businesses can take to reduce lost energy and increase employee safety and wellbeing.

Thorsten Mauritz, marketing manager for Rite-Hite in Europe, says Loading Bays are hostile environments at any time of the year, but especially in the winter:

"When you think about it, each Loading Bay door opening (typically ranging from 8’x8’ to 10’x12’ or larger) represents a giant hole in the wall of your facility. Strung together, these dock openings present an enormous opportunity for bad things to enter your facility during the loading or unloading of goods - like wind, rain, snow and rodents - and good things, like expensive heating and cooling energy, to escape.

"Anything a company can do, therefore, to ensure a complete and tight seal at every dock door, can have an immediate positive effect."

Weather-related product damage and contamination, employee comfort and safety, facility hygiene and cleanliness, air quality, maintenance of product quality characteristics and passing inspections are all concerns related to protecting and controlling the environment at the Loading Bay. 

Even small, unsealed gaps, like hinge gaps of swing-open trailer doors, for example, can add up to significant costs: "Fortunately, highly effective dock sealing products from Rite-Hite exist that can be designed and installed quickly to make sure docks are sealed up tight and your people, products, processes and profits are protected," Thorsten adds.

Thorsten also highlights the additional challenges that winter weather can bring from both a health and safety perspective. Lighting at the loading bay, for example, can be pivotal in keeping the area safe in the dark mornings and late afternoons during the winter months. Within the trailers themselves, dock lights, such Rite-Hite’s Flex Neck HD-LED, are vital in illuminating a trailer or container at the loading bay. Such dock lights should be equipped with additional safety and energy-saving features, such as a variable light output and auto-dimming features that sense when a forklift or person exits a trailer and dims the light to reduce glare.  

On the exterior of the loading bay, ancillary lights are available that mimic the red/green light system of control boxes. Helping to communicate the ‘restrain status’ to drivers, these new lights have been developed to maintain line-of-sight communication regardless of obstructions in front of mounted lightboxes.  

Industrial HVLS Fans which keep a facility cool in the summer also have the opposite role in winter to keep a facility warm, and automated wheel locking systems – such as the Global Wheel-Lok - can help prevent serious accidents associated with snow and ice.

"Traditional wheel chocks tend to be unreliable, especially in poor weather conditions, and are often not strong enough to prevent a vehicle from pulling away unexpectedly," Thorsten continues. "They also require someone to physically manhandle them into position and remove them after use, and that can be incredibly dangerous when the ground is icy.

"We want to highlight these and other challenges associated with winter, and the positive benefits that addressing these challenges can bring."