Loading and unloading freight plays a crucial part in the overall transportation process. Inefficient dock procedures can lead to higher transportation costs, slower delivery times and customer dissatisfaction. It doesn’t matter the volume of freight you ship, efficiency at your facility is important.
Here are 7 tips to keep dock operations safe and productive:
- Prioritize equipment maintenance. Regular maintenance ensures equipment will be working properly. Making sure levelers and forklifts are operational will lead to far less frequent delays. Having equipment that makes loading/unloading easier will also help decrease employee turnover.
- Use RFID technology. Using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) allows you to track individual products, pallets and shipments. With RFID, loading dock employees can check shipment statuses and make sure the right freight is on the right truck, without having to search through the paperwork.
- Separate forklift traffic. Accidents create delays. Unnecessary pedestrian traffic where forklift drivers are operating can lead to accidents – whether it’s from a distracted driver or a careless worker, forklifts should have lots of room to operate.
- Guide trucks to the dock. A lot of time can be wasted waiting for a driver to line up a trailer. Use wheel guides, bumpers, reflective guides and mirrors to help drivers approaching the dock door. Not only will this make it quicker and easier for the driver to align the trailer, but it will help the rest of the loading or unloading process go smoothly.
- Implement light communication systems. Putting lights on top of the dock doors that indicate truck status can tell a manager whether a trailer is being serviced by a lift truck or sitting idle. Typically this is most useful in large shipping operations. Light indicators help the manager keep freight flowing.
- Update security measures. A large portion of company theft occurs during the shipping process. Freight can be particularly vulnerable at a dock when a truck is left unattended. Security depends on what type of facility you run, but always use some type of freight tracking technology and check that truck drivers have the proper paperwork in order.
- Take advantage of technology. Warehouse management systems can improve staffing, scheduling and overall facility productivity. They are especially useful when integrated with a transportation management system. The combination of the two systems can optimize your entire transportation process.