Yard and Dock Management
Security must step in to mitigate rising costs of business
- By Eric Breen
- Nov 01, 2012
Facility managers and warehouse executives are facing unique challenges
as logistics continue to increase and become more complex
worldwide. While many of the issues and costs associated with moving
materials and products are beyond your control, there are product
solutions and systems available that increase operational and logistics
efficiency by optimizing yard, dock and warehouse processes while keeping
a close watch on your facility’s security.
The costs and challenges associated with supply chain management are on an
upward trend with little relief in sight. Rising fuel costs, increased labor costs and
even loss due to theft or misplaced loads have hit all-time highs. Companies are
tightening their belts and looking for solutions to combat these issues. Controlling
costs by increasing the security of yard and dock operations is a good place to start.
Designed to eliminate the common and often most-costly losses around the
loading dock, there are yard and dock management systems available that uniquely
use real-time and physical data to assist facilities in efficiently managing operations
such as loading dock visibility and live and staged trailer coordination. These
systems integrate loading dock equipment with intelligent software to monitor,
communicate and, finally, manage loss prevention in the yard and on the dock.
Many of these management systems use a variety of GPS, RFID and equipment
sensors to gather real-time data that allow companies to monitor and manage
activity at each dock door and in the yard. From providing dock door status
to truck and trailer access, these systems deliver an accurate picture of a facility’s
overall operations—authorized and unauthorized.
Prior to installation of these systems, companies had no way to track dock door
movements except with a visual inspection, which is hardly an efficient method of
managing security operations. These systems monitor things such as the amount
of time the trailer is being loaded and unloaded and then compare that data to
how long the trailer sat idle at the dock door, leaving it open for theft and damage.
One of the most valuable features that management systems and integrated
dock equipment offer to companies is a cost-effective means of providing additional
security to the dock doors. Users have the ability to remotely close all doors
from a single location and monitor trailer departure from the dock after loading
and unloading. In the event of high-value loads, the systems can use biometrics
such as fingerprint identification to lock out equipment, allowing for only authorized
personnel to be on the dock during that time. As an additional feature, some
systems have the ability to recognize the difference between a security breach and
regular operations, which saves time and money on investigating false alarms.
These easy-to-implement yard and dock management systems and the supporting
dock equipment do more than simply track trailer movements. They act as an
extra set of eyes, which provides more accurate tracking of your facility’s operations
and saves time and money associated with securing your yard, loading dock
and warehouse logistics.
Start beyond the dock. Stopping problems with theft, crime, vandalism and lost
loads before they start is the foundation of yard and dock management systems.
So, why not start in the yard and outside the dock before problems and thieves
make their way into your warehouse?
Look for systems that use the latest in RFID and various sensor technologies as
well as GPS tracking so every trailer movement is recorded. This increased visibility
and monitoring creates real-time performance reports with the ability to reduce yard
check time by 90 percent, in many cases.
Once at the dock, using a vehicle restraint prevents
premature trailer departure as the forklift accesses
trailers. The constant impacts on the trailer floor as
the forklift goes in and out can cause the trailer to
“creep” away from the dock, leaving the back open to
major injuries and potential theft, but powered vehicle
restraints engage a trailer’s rear impact guard with
enough restraining force to ensure the trailer remains
encased at the dock more effectively than with rubber
wheel or manual chocks, providing an increased level
of safety and security.
LED communication lights, a standard feature on
some vehicle restraints, provide a highly visible indication
to the driver when the trailer is engaged or
when loading and unloading is complete and it is safe
to drive away from the dock.
In addition, many companies use dock seals to
completely envelope the back of a trailer. As an extra
measure of protection, the seal has a head curtain
with sensors to accommodate a variety of trailer
heights. This total doorway seal provides an added
measure of security.
For additional security and operational efficiency,
the equipment on the dock is interlocked to operate
in a particular sequence. Once a truck is parked at the
dock, a master control panel allows the operator to
activate the restraint; typically, the dock leveler is not
activated until the restraint is fully engaged. When the
truck is ready to leave, the restraint cannot release the
truck unless the leveler is in the stored position and
the dock door is closed. LED interior communication
lights provide an at-a-glance status, telling dock workers
if a trailer is secured by the restraint or not, maintaining
reliable, on-time and secure deliveries.
Use tools to control the variables you can. Seeking
a better option for managing third-party drivers?
Management systems combined with the proper
dock equipment can provide a single interface that
captures all dock statuses. Drivers can be equipped
with a variety of paging devices to make trailer movements
timely and efficient. Increasing the monitoring
of non-employees on the dock and yard can lead to
great savings by ensuring people are where they need
to be, when they need to be there, with access afforded
to only the authorized.
Run at full potential. Raising the bar on your yard
security is just the beginning of the information and
cost-reduction potential that yard and dock management
systems can bring to your transportation needs.
The most advanced security system interfaces use
auto-activated cameras at each loading dock to effectively
reduce theft. In addition to proving equipment
with a network of sensors, many systems use truckpresence
indicators, door sensors and trailer restraints
to provide visual confirmation that all doors are closed,
all staged trailers are accounted for and the building is
secure. In the event of a breach, the system automatically
notifies the appropriate call center and managers.
Don’t settle for cookie-cutter applications. Your
facility is as unique as you are, and these systems’
dock equipment can be tailored to suit your facilityspecific
Some manufacturers offer a full line of specialty
and impactable dock doors equipped with thick
foam panels and compression-bottom seals, providing
high-quality thermal protection to preserve the
facility’s temperature and security. Some doors have
a unique impactable design that allows them to stand
up to the abuse they experience on the dock. They
use heavy-duty, retractable plungers and ride in a Vgrooved
track. When a fork lift or truck collides with
the doors, the impact causes the plungers to retract,
allowing the door to release from the opening and
prevent panel damage. After the door is knocked out
from the track, a light pull on the door handles resets
the door, putting it back in operation quickly without
damage. The design makes sure that doors are able to
be closed and there is no damage to the panels and
tracks that could create a security issue by allowing
thieves a way to enter a facility.
After completing the seal on the loading dock
doors, many facilities turn their attention to dock levelers
to create an additional level of loss prevention
and an added layer of protection against the elements,
debris and impacts. Stored upright, the steel platform
stands guard in front of the dock door, protecting it
against impacts that can damage the doors and leave
them open to break-ins.
Whether your goal is knowing where your trailers
are at all times, keeping a tight seal on your dock or
minimizing on-site driver time, yard and dock management
systems and the right equipment can help
you realize savings and impact your bottom line in as
little as 12 months. And if such measures prevent the
loss of an entire trailer, the ROI can be instant. The
systems get you out of the business of managing software
and running security and back to what you do
best: managing your transportation needs.
Track, measure, change, repeat. Proactive change
on the loading dock and in your logistics security is a
proven method to help reduce excess costs associated
with lost, stolen or damaged goods. But how do you
know what to change and when?
Yard and dock management systems do more than
simply track and provide raw data to the decision
makers. Many develop detailed reports based on an
almost unlimited set of parameters, such as carrier
arrival and departure times, loading and unloading
times and even labor hours. These reports provide you
with the information you need to make important decisions
that can affect the security and ultimately the
profitability of your entire operation.
Integrating these advanced systems with equipment
will help take your operation to the next level by
monitoring your yard, loading dock and warehouse
logistics. From the moment a trailer enters your yard
to the time it leaves, you’ll know exactly where it is,
what is on it, where it needs to be and
who should have access to it. That’s
the definition of security.
This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Security Today.