Planned Maintenance Q&A

Regular Planned Maintenance Helps Prevent Future Emergencies While Resulting in Lower Service Costs

With summer quickly approaching, now is a great time to determine how your facility is going to handle preparing for extreme heat and a host of other seasonal challenges.

In fact, some parts of the U.S., including the southwest, Texas and Florida are already experiencing high-temperature extremes, and it’s still the middle of spring.

We sat down with APS Resource’s Mark Smith, Aftermarket Sales Manager, to gather a few of his thoughts on tackling planned maintenance at the dock in preparation for the upcoming summer season.

Why planned maintenance now vs. other times of the year?

Spring and fall are the most important times of the year for planned maintenance due to the anticipated summer and winter season temperature extremes.

Especially for summer, extreme heat can have a dramatic effect on any type of heavy equipment, including dock levelers. That’s why it’s so important to clean, adjust, and lubricate loading dock equipment before temperatures spike.

Summer is a very busy time for most facilities, and they simply can’t afford to encounter breakdowns in equipment during peak times.

Such unforeseen breakdowns — which from our experience are quite common — are tied directly to how often planned maintenance is performed. Frequent equipment usage certainly demands a robust planned maintenance program.

For example, a busy distribution center in Arizona that handles a few hundred trucks a day cannot afford to risk breakdowns with equipment baking away at 115 degrees F on a sunny day.

What types of issues might facilities find with their equipment, especially after a harsh winter?

For a mechanical leveler that’s run with springs and inertia, when its restraint is disengaged, all of that pent up energy is released. When this action is repeated over and over all winter long from truck loading and unloading, a leveler will eventually go out of adjustment. The leveler will then not perform properly or safely. That can also lead to personnel putting themselves in a very dangerous position while trying to force the leveler to operate.

Airbag levelers are also subject to mechanical repetitive wear due to 6,000 lb. forklifts and 3,000 to 4,000 lb. loads constantly moving back and forth over the leveler. Loading and unloading equipment moving at high speeds is very hard on all leveler parts, including the lip, lip hinges, rear hinges, etc. Hydraulic levelers experience similar types of wear and tear.

If not lubricated properly, all of these levelers’ critically integrated moving parts are not going to correctly work together in the long term.

Are there any special seasonal equipment maintenance considerations for summer vs. winter?

Summer is notorious for bringing rodents and insects into the planned maintenance mix. Those are a real concern for any facility that is audited regularly, such as food production and distribution facilities, food packaging operations, pharmaceutical production, etc.

Door and leveler brushes need to be in great shape. Brush weather seals are a wear item due to ongoing loading and unloading as well as doors constantly raising and lowering.

Our Weatherwall solution is a combination brush and rubber membrane designed to eliminate light and will also help to minimize heat and humidity from entering a facility. ENERGY GUARD® also helps to seal any air leakage or infiltration around the sides and back of a dock leveler.

What’s the best way to create a planned maintenance program from scratch if you don’t have one in place already?

The core components of any planned maintenance program are:

  • Lubrication for proper movement.
  • Adjustment for optimal operation.
  • Inspection to uncover any hidden problems or issues.
  • Cleaning, especially for auditing requirements, and keep docks looking cosmetically presentable.
  • Reporting to maintain a record of parts and equipment safety, functionality, and cosmetic concerns that will eventually need to be addressed, such as stress fractures in a cable or cracks in a leveler plate or lift hinge.

Reporting, in particular, helps to avoid high-cost emergency repairs and ensures lower cost planned replacement purchases. Labor costs mount as well when repairs require welding to ensure that a dock leveler is once again safe to operate.

How are planned maintenance and safety concerns connected?

During planned maintenance, it’s important to review any potential safety hazards, including the need for security chains at door openings and other OSHA mandates, such as required wheel chocks if none are on site.

One of the biggest concerns during the summer is when dock doors are dangerously left open for ventilation. As of 2017, a new OSHA regulation mandated that dock levelers are now walking working surfaces and the open door area is considered a hoist area.

If a facility’s dock height is 48 inches or higher and dock doors are left open without a truck or trailer present, then that company is in violation of the OSHA regulation and can be fined $13,000 per dock, if they don’t have the proper fall protection in place.

And for cold storage facilities, it’s critical to look for areas where hot, humid air might be entering your dock area and then condensing and/or freezing, which can cause slippery work conditions for personnel on foot or those driving forklifts.

How does APS Resource fit into a planned maintenance program?

APS Resource is well-known for our on-time shipping dependability. We’re incredibly reliable with getting out our OEM parts which are so important for the end-user from a materials, engineering, and safety standpoint. OEM parts are specifically designed for the levelers and restraints that a customer originally purchased which leads to better, safer equipment with less downtime.

APS Resource partners with over 100+ best-in-class distributors in the industry and we are committed to servicing them and future customers with all of their business needs.