Guidelines for Loading Dock Design & Construction

The design and building of industrial facilities like warehouses, factories, and distribution centers are more complicated than it might seem. As trends in how we work change and evolve over time, so do loading dock design guidelines. It is critical that architects and general contractors pay close attention to these trends so they can effectively design and build facilities that meet the demands of the industrial workplace today and in the future.

When planning for these types of buildings, discussions around new loading dock construction should happen early and often, as movement of product in and out of a facilities’ shipping dock is a key factor to running a productive facility. Design factors such as standard loading dock dimensions, loading dock design layout, loading dock door spacing, as well as sizing and specifying the correct type of loading dock levelers and interior and exterior doors, among other things, can set an architect or general contractor apart from others.

As an architect or general contractor, it is important to develop a loading dock plan as well as understand the function of each part of an industrial building and the equipment that is needed and used by the people who will be working in the building. To help get you started, we have gathered a few tips that you should know when developing a loading dock plan and design:

Architects Guide to Loading Dock Design:

  • Pay attention to the area surrounding the building when creating the loading dock floor plan.
  • Identify areas of interaction. For example, the loading dock area, doors, finishing areas, assembly lines, and plant intersections.
  • Loading dock construction is critical to the long-term operation of the facility. The materials and products used here should be discussed early in the design stage.
  • Help is available from companies that supply the equipment for industrial facilities. Seek them out and take advantage of their planning, building and design services and experience.

General Contractors Guide to Loading Dock Design:

  • Understand the processes and procedures that will take place in the facility to help better spec the appropriate materials and equipment.
  • Use federal regulations and guidelines such as OSHA and ANSI to help determine best solutions for loading dock equipment safety.
  • Drive designs for safe loading docks and use the best and safest available equipment on the building.
  • Consider the long-term use of equipment and the level of safety it provides to the workers who will be using it.
  • Do a reality check on the loading dock dimensions and question potential hazards at the planning stage.

Because every building has its own unique application and setup, there is no one-size-fits-all loading dock design guide for industrial buildings. There are, however, some common themes that emerge in these structures. Understanding the equipment used at loading docks and inside the plant can help create the safest and most productive facility possible. Here are some factors to consider when choosing equipment for your facility or deciding how to build a loading dock:

Dock Design Considerations:

  • Specific application
  • Industry standards
  • Dock safety considerations
  • Budget
  • Building constraints
  • Footprint challenges
  • Future growth

At Rite-Hite, we have many services and solutions to aid in the planning, building and design of industrial facilities along with the knowledge and experience to install and service any warehouse loading dock equipment. For more information on design/build trends and best practices contact us to talk to your local Rite-Hite representative.

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