Loading docks are often the final connection between a business and the outside world. Yet in spite of the importance of that connection, a business often pays little attention to it as long as it accomplishes the basic function of getting products out of a manufacturing and storage facility and into shipping processes for customers. The safety and efficiency of a loading dock can be dramatically improved, and a business can save substantial resources when it upgrades or retrofits a loading dock with improved LED lighting.
Consider first the safety of the workers who perform their tasks on loading docks. More than 20,000 loading dock workers are injured annually as a result of poor visibility and weak communications in loading dock operations. Those operations can be a haphazard interplay of truck drivers, forklifts, and workers who are walking in all areas of a loading dock. If any one of those workers is unable to see things around him or to communicate properly with fellow employees, the loading dock will become a minefield of accidents waiting to happen. In this environment, LED lighting systems do more than provide better illumination. Intelligent loading dock LED Lighting systems can be integrated with sensors to detect movement and to signal other workers with warning lights that can keep them out of harm’s way. This is particularly valuable when shipping containers or pallets are blocking lines of sight. The rapid on-off capabilities of LED lights and their ability to be integrated with intelligent sensing systems makes LED’s superior to traditional metal halide or high-pressure sodium lighting for this function.
Sensor-triggered LED lighting on loading docks can also be configured to improve communications between truck drivers and dock workers with respect to when a truck trailer is engaged and safe for loading and unloading. Many accidents happen when lift truck operators initiate loading and unloading activities when they assume that a trailer is fully dock-engaged. LED systems can improve the visual communication between truck drivers and loading operators.
LED lighting can also be tuned to better replicate natural lighting conditions, which makes it easier for loading dock employees to see fine product features and to read labels and other identifiers on shipments. This can also reduce dock worker fatigue and reduce headaches and eyestrain from overly-bright or harsh lighting. More alert workers who feel better while performing their jobs will also be less susceptible to accidents and errors.
Apart from these all-important safety features, loading docks that upgrade or retrofit to LED lighting systems will save substantial amounts of operating overhead and maintenance costs. LED lights generate the same or better illumination levels as traditional industrial lighting fixtures with less than half of the energy input. Next generation LED luminaires can provide more than 50,000 hours of continuous operations without requiring replacement, and in some cases up to 100,000 hours of continuous lighting with no degradation in light quality. LED systems that are integrated with sensing controls can also shut down areas of dock lighting when no loading activities are occurring in those areas, thus saving additional operating costs.