Maintaining Product Integrity with
the Right Docks and Doors
Drive-through dock design is quickly gaining momentum in the
By Walt Swietlik, Director of Customer Relations, Rite-Hite
Supply chain operations that handle pharmaceutical products must always deal with tight regulatory restrictions related to cleanliness. Oftentimes, this encompasses
temperature-related damage, as well.
While loading docks are an essential part of
any facility, they also present prime opportunities
for dust, precipitation, and other contaminants
to infiltrate the premises. In addition, ambient
temperatures can become too hot for temperature-sensitive products, rendering them ineffective or
harmful. Interior doors are another challenge,
as they are prone to a variety of contamination-related problems.
Fortunately, facility managers have new tools to
defend against these threats at the loading dock
and inside the facility. “Drive-through” loading
dock designs and high speed cleanroom doors are
two prime examples.
Gaps at the Loading Dock
Outgoing and incoming shipments aren’t the only
things that can move through loading dock doors.
Even when trailers are secured to the loading dock,
gaps often exist between the trailer and edges of
the dock opening. Contaminants that range from
bugs to weather (precipitation, temperature, and
sunlight) can enter facilities that aren’t taking the
proper steps to seal gaps around loading dock
doors. Exposure to these elements can damage
products and equipment, leading to even more
Widely seen as the gold standard of environmental
control for loading docks throughout the food
industry, the drive-through dock design is quickly
gaining momentum in the pharmaceutical industry,
In a drive-through application, tractor-trailer rigs
back up to the loading dock with their doors closed.
When the trailer is secured to the dock, the dock
door opens, the trailer’s security seal is broken and
the doors are then opened into the building. This
limits opportunities for tampering and exposure
to outside elements and contaminants that could
degrade the cargo or break the cold chain.
The drive-through application requires a recessed
pit and a vertical-storing leveler (which makes it
possible to open trailer doors inside the facility) as
well as loading dock shelters that are compatible
with interior-opening trailer doors.
Shelters that use a weighted head curtain to
create a solid connection with the trailer top are
the best bet. The weight helps maintain a tight,
consistent seal across the full width of the trailer
as it bounces during loading and unloading. They
should also have specially-designed equipment to
LiteSpeed Clean: Cleanrooms rated ISO 6-8.