How to choose the best types of loading docks

Types of Loading Docks

How to choose the best type of loading dock for your facility

In general terms, loading docks are attached to the exterior of manufacturing and industrial facilities to help with the delivery and unloading of raw goods, as well as the loading and shipping of finished products.

The key is on designing a loading dock area to prioritise efficiency levels & safety, within the available space.

Let’s start by highlighting a few considerations to help guide your decision:

  • How many loading docks does your facility need? According to the expected volume of goods
  • How many exit and entry points are available in your centre?
  • How about the number of trucks that will constantly move around at the same time?
  • The size of your facility.

The different types

Flush Dock

Ideal for: A flush dock, the most common type used in transport or heavy lifting. Generally, this type of dock is used to benefit the manufacturing industries and those with commercial outputs to deliver.

How does it work?: It allows for the back of the loading truck to be flush against the entryway of a space. With a secure buffer to protect the wall, the dock is parallel to the building, maintaining easy delivery of the materials to be loaded

Main benefit: Flush docks are typically used as a space-saving measure, as they fit snugly inside a warehouse or building, making them ideal for smaller businesses.

Cons: For flush docks, it’s important to ensure that the building wall goes past the foundation (due to using metal or other materials) and dock bumper protection.

Considering space saving is one of their main characteristics, it’s only natural that our loading docks turntables are the perfect match.

Open Dock

Ideal for: Not really ideal due to exposure to outside weather and the possibility of making it easier for theft and damage

How does it work?: They’re an open platform or protrude from the facility, exposed to the elements. Usually, although not always, open docks have the roofing to prevent cargo from getting wet during rain.
Main benefit: The ease of access for loaders, meaning they can save time unloading and loading through the dock.

Cons: These docks, therefore, are rarely used since they cannot be heated or cooled efficiently, and they do not provide adequate protection for products, materials, or workers.

The requirements as per OSHA standards for an open loading dock may include proper floor drainage due to weather exposure, edge markings, run-off protection, and handrails.

Also, open docks should always have a canopy with its height calculated to accommodate trailer height.

Saw Tooth Dock

Ideal for: Design situations where the apron space is limited but you still need to accommodate multiple trucks.The industry best adapted to the Saw Tooth Dock is usually those in large-scale manufacturing, with enough warehouse room to accommodate their unusual size.

How does it work?: Docks are placed at an angle relative to the building, letting more trucks fit at one time.

Main benefit: With their unique shape at an angle, they can fit easily into narrow or difficult spaces.

Cons: They can be bulky to operate within the warehouse itself – which makes it harder to move and store incoming products because the staging area between docks is typically not usable, wasting storage space.

Enclosed Dock

Ideal for: One of the most uncommon appliances used in deliveries, enclosed docks are generally used when product protection, climate control, security, and overhead lift capabilities are needed.

How does it work?: Closed docks allow for an entire truck or trucks to park in a closed garage-like space, providing protection and comfort.

Main benefit: Parking trucks inside a storage space or warehouse gives loaders quick and easy access to the supplies.

Cons: These docks also take up a significant amount of room in warehouses, reducing the already limited space down, and making it harder for workers to access equipment and supplies.

An enclosed dock is also the most expensive loading dock design since it requires initial investment and maintenance. Ventilation systems are needed to prevent the levels of exhaust fumes and pollution from impacting both the workers and the goods.

Our recommendation

Now that we’ve explored a bit more about the types of docks and their features, we hope this brings more light on the best loading dock for your business based on the scale of your facility and operations. Keep in mind safety and space-saving restrictions and complement the loading dock area with an efficient tool such as a Turntable for the utmost loading dock design.

Find more about how our turntables work and how they’ve helped other businesses become more productive and efficient. See the loading dock turntables available and why they are the best solution. And also how you can design a functional and efficient loading dock using our turntables. At Australian Turntables, we want to help you improve your business and see you succeed! https://www.turntables.com.au/loading-docks/