Moving temperature-sensitive products? The loading dock is a vital part of the cold chain.

Moving temperature-sensitive products? The loading dock is a vital part of the cold chain.

Produce, frozen foods, and flowers—these are just some of the temperature-sensitive products that consumers buy all the time. But did you ever ask yourself—how did my ice cream get from the cow to my supermarket in perfect, creamy condition?

The Cold Chain Challenge

A cold chain is defined as "a temperature-controlled supply chain." More specifically, one source defines the cold chain as "an integrated system of partners and activities involved in processing, transporting and storing temperature-sensitive products from the supplier to the consumer." [1] The process of moving and storing temperature-sensitive freight has the extra challenge of keeping temperatures consistent. The need for insulated trucks on the road and right-temperature storage in the warehouse seem rather obvious. But an efficient climate-controlled loading dock is a vital part of the process. Starting from the outside-in, the loading dock is a good place to ensure that your operation remains safe, productive, and compliant with meeting the temperature challenge.

Seal the Opening & Close the Gaps

A sufficient seal for your dock is critical as the loading dock presents an opportunity to lose energy due to the gaps, holes, and openings that exist around dock doors and dock levelers. Compression dock seals create a foam-filled compression around a trailer’s top and sides, supporting energy efficiency and climate control. If the loading dock is not sealed properly, energy loss from a facility can be substantial resulting in warmer air temps. Also give attention to a proper dock shelter that seals off space; preventing debris entry along with the loss of conditioned air. The best choice for a climate-controlled environment is a compression seal or inflatable shelter.

 

Why the proper seal & shelter is important:

  • Energy efficient for proper temperature control
  • Protection from airborne contaminants, pests, and inclement weather conditions
  • Safer working conditions
  • Extra protection for products and packaging

The Right Dock Leveler

To maintain a safe and efficient supply chain, climate-controlled loading docks can be equipped with specialized loading dock equipment. A vertical storing dock leveler (VSL) is the perfect solution for facilities that require strict climate control and/or cleanliness standards. This specialized design allows trailers to back into the loading dock bay before the doors are opened. Thus creating a complete seal between the trailer and the facility interior. A vertical storing dock leveler does exactly as the name implies—it stores upright and inside the building. By storing vertically and inside the warehouse this leveler offers energy-efficiency as the door can close completely to the floor.

 

 

Why the VSL is important:

  • Decreased energy loss
  • Lower cooling costs
  • Prevents product spoilage
  • Easier wash-downs for cleanliness
  • Added security when parked in the upright position and overhead door is closed

In summary, manufactures need to know exactly how their temperature-sensitive products will be handled in a specific transportation environment. Find out if the loading dock is designed properly to handle the products coming and going out. Also, limit the number of times the products change hands from one party to another in the supply chain. And if using a 3rd party, be sure to partner with a logistics expert for 3PL operations. Remember…chocolate should melt in one’s mouth—not on the loading dock!

With convenient access to major highways I-81, I-80, I-84, I-380, and I-476, the Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Hazelton area has become a center for logistics and warehouse operations. In NE Pennsylvania, Action Lift can support all your commercial dock & door needs. Representing the best companies in the industry, we sell, install, and repair loading dock equipment including levelers, lifts, seals, trailer restraints, security gates, and more.


 

Resources:

http://www.foodlogistics.com/article/10315790/safety-starts-with-temperature-control

https://www.foodmanufacturing.com/article/2014/10/steps-achieving-efficient-and-temperature-controlled-loading-dock