Any product can be damaged or devalued if it is handled inappropriately while in transit; that is particularly true for food products. Martyn Nixon, General Manager for sara LBS, explains how expertise and experience can be applied to designing bespoke loading bays for food transport operations.
The two biggest challenges for food manufactures are hygiene and protecting good from damage. As a result food product needs delicate and precise handling throughout the supply chain. Even the product packaging must be immaculate and undamaged for it to be accepted by the retailers. Food products that have not fared well in transit are destined for the discount shelf – or possibly straight into the bin. Clearly this is not ideal, such waste and financial loss should be avoided at all costs.
Therefore it is incumbent upon everybody working at every stage of food handing operations that they take care to ensure that no damage is done to the goods. To facilitate this, they should be provided with appropriate equipment and working environments.
Typically, food products will be manufactured or processed then transferred to a temperature controlled storage area to await dispatch. Such an area may have entrances protected by sara LBS high speed roller curtain doors which help to keep the temperature stable. From here they are likely to be transferred to a loading bay where their delivery lorry awaits.
Getting the goods into the lorry can be quite a task, but it has to be completed quickly, efficiently, safely and without damage to the goods. Ideally for foodstuffs, the loading bay should be enclosed, and is most often internal to the production building. A large roller shutter door, up to which the lorry can reverse, helps maintain hygiene standards by keeping vermin and wind-blown contaminants at bay while also helping to stabilise ambient temperatures. Additionally all surfaces in a loading bay should be kept clean and hygienic; those close to actual food products can be painted or coated for easy cleaning and maximum hygiene.
It is notable that most sara LBS equipment can be supplied in formats suitable for use with food. Further, sara LBS engineers are trained not only in how to design food-safe equipment but also to consider the whole loading bay environment. As well as identifying where food safe surfaces are imperative and where they are less important, a sara LBS advisor will consider spacing and layout. There must be enough space around the loading bay to allow forklifts to be manoeuvred safely and efficiently, for the same reason there must be good line of sight for the drivers and possibly traffic lights and safety bollards to control vehicle movement.
Significantly, thought will be given to the type of door at the vehicle dock. Often a heavy-duty roller shutter will be required for overnight security, but so that it does not have to be raised and lowered with every vehicle movement, a secondary high speed curtain door may be recommended to complement it. This will help regulate the temperature within the bay and keep vermin out, but will be able to open and close quickly so that operational productivity can be maintained.
Another option is to have an enclosed lorry parking bay with a high speed curtain at either end and have these co-ordinated so that they are never both open simultaneously – one is always shut to protect the bay from outside temperatures, vermin etc.
One final thought that sara LBS experts have in mind when designing loading bays for foodstuffs is that the packaging is often as important as the product itself. Consumers will not buy items where the packaging is dirty, marked, crumpled or sub-standard. To avoid these problems, the gentle handling guidelines above should be followed and care should also be taken to avoid damage caused by weather such as rain markings and the accumulation of wind-blown dust. Sara LBS has several solutions for providing weather protection, including porches (with or without side walls), dock shelters and dock loading pods.
A loading bay may look simple and to the layman, one may look the same as the next. But sara LBS designers bring years of experience and accumulated expertise to every job so can help ensure maximum operational performance – something that will contribute to efficiency and profitability in the short, medium and long term.
WHO ARE SARA LBS?
sara Loading Bay Specialists supply, install and maintain loading bay equipment for manufacturing, warehouse loading and distribution networks, also high speed doors and roller shutter doors for industrial, production line, cleanroom and food processing applications. Its high speed range of ‘Sprint’ fast action doors offer quick opening speeds and improved safety for internal and external applications.
sara LBS have been supplying, installing and maintaining high speed doors for over 30 years, priding themselves on their quality of workmanship, dedication to customer service and reliability of installation. If you’d like to get in touch to discuss our High Speed Doors, please contact us or call us on 01442 245577