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Pick of the Pods

Dave Whyatt, Sales Director of Easilift Loading Systems Ltd, pioneers in the development of loading dock pods, explains how they can deliver substantial benefits, with increased productivity, to logistics operations.

As companies strive to become even more efficient in all their business operations, including the vitally important loading and unloading function, there has been an increasing use of dock pods – also referred to as loading houses – at warehouses and distribution centres across the country.

A dock pod is a complete stand-alone loading bay enclosure which can be installed directly on to the external face of a building. Typically fitted with a dock seal, dock leveller or scissor lift and a sectional insulated overhead door, they are suitable for new buildings, extensions and refurbishments.

There are numerous factors accounting for their ever increasing popularity – particularly in today's highly competitive 'belt-tightening' business environment.

They do not take up valuable internal warehouse space and maintain the loading and unloading function within a separate and distinctly confined area. With no cross traffic to worry about, this is a significant health and safety benefit.

The installation of a dock pod does not require any major civil engineering work or building modifications, as there's no need for a hole or pit to be created in the floor. Quick and easy to erect, without disruption to the inner warehouse operations, they can be repositioned on site if required and are also a highly cost-effective retrofit option for an existing building.

Their lightweight but exceptionally strong structure, provides an insulated, hygienic, weatherproof area – with resulting energy saving potential – making them ideal for ambient and temperature controlled buildings such as cold stores.

Easilift dock pods are highly flexible and purpose-designed, with different options for the main construction materials and equipment to suit individual customer requirements. For example, pods can be equipped with a surface mounted scissor lift platform, instead of a dock leveller, for use with the latest double-deck trailers now being widely utilised by major high street retailers and logistics companies due to their increased load capacity which can help minimise journey cycles, fleet size, fuel and labour costs.

Easilift is one of the pioneers in the design and installation of loading dock pod systems. We are therefore highly experienced with a well-proven track record in this specialist area, having supplied dock pods in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of different finishes, to many extremely discerning customers over a number of years, including, for example, retailing giant Tesco and Innov@te Logistics.

For Tesco, we recently provided hundreds of pods for their major new distribution centres at Livingston, Lichfield and Goole.

At Livingston, Scotland, we fitted bespoke exterior dock leveller pods to 162 of the 179 loading bays in the one million sq ft development; all incorporating swing lip type 'PowerRamp' dock levellers and insulated electrically-operated sectional overhead 'PowerDoors'. A further 17 scissor lift dock pods, designed to integrate with Tesco's fixed bed double-deck trailers are equipped with scissor lifts. They are capable of carrying 36 roll cages and an operator safely between the two fixed vehicle beds and the loading dock.

Similar Easilift pod systems, with swing lip type 'PowerRamp' dock levellers and PowerDoors, were supplied for 100 of the 108 bays at Tesco's 850,000 sq ft Fradley Park, Lichfield, regional distribution centre. A further eight pods were equipped with 36 cage scissor lifts, plus insulated sectional overhead 'PowerDoors' and shelters.

Tesco's 700,000 sq ft Goole national distribution centre was almost identical to Lichfield, with Easilift dock pods, comprising swing lip type 'PowerRamp' dock levellers and 'PowerDoors' being supplied for 100 out of the 108 loading bays. And, once again, a further eight pods were equipped with 36 cage scissor lifts, plus insulated sectional overhead 'PowerDoors' and shelters.

We have also designed and supplied pod systems to several Tesco supermarkets, including its flagship environmental store in Wick, Scotland.

That a company of Tesco's status continues to equip its distribution centres and stores with our dock pods is a ringing endorsement of the quality and reliability of our products and the high levels of service we deliver.

Innov@te Logistics equipped each of the four loading bays at its new cold store at Holmewood, Chesterfield, with Easilift dock pods fitted with telescopic dock levellers, a dock seal and an insulated sectional door.

The numerous advantages of dock pods in saving time, space and money, and delivering increased safety combined with vastly improved productivity, explains why they are now becoming such a common site in warehouses and distribution centres throughout the UK.

Easilift is part of the Loading Systems International group, one of Europe's foremost manufacturers of loading bay equipment, and in addition to its UK operation it has other sales companies in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

As well as dock pod systems, Easilift Loading Systems provides everything necessary for the safe, efficient and profitable operation of loading bays. This includes dock levellers, dock shelters, dock seals, doors, high speed doors, vehicle restraints and lifting platforms. We also offer a complete range of accessories and safety aids, from dock plates, dock bumpers and wheel guides, to traffic lights and integrated control systems.

The company, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006, has grown to become one of the top three loading bay equipment suppliers in the UK, with a current turnover in excess of £16 million.

Easilift was also one of the first loading bay equipment suppliers to achieve the prestigious SAFEcontractor Health and Safety Accreditation. SAFEcontractor is a scheme that independently assesses the health and safety competency of contractors in a variety of fields and, as such, confirms to prospective clients that effective policies and systems are in place.

We have an extensive customer list that is a roll call of some of the biggest names in UK manufacturing, retailing, logistics, distribution and the service sector. And, reflecting the extremely high levels of customer satisfaction achieved, more than 60 per cent of new orders come from existing customers.

The continued successful development of Easilift Loading Systems is due in no small part to the positive commitment of our staff, plus our extensive facilities which include an in-house design team, together with experienced engineers available to advise on the most efficient and productive installation, whether as a new project or refurbishment.

This is complemented by a full installation and after-sales service, which includes the provision of preventive maintenance programmes designed to avoid costly loading bay down-time.

Further details of Easilift dock pod systems and their market-leading loading bay equipment range can be obtained from: Easilift Loading Systems Ltd, Spring Grove, Penistone Road, Kirkburton, Huddersfield, HD8 0PL. Tel: 0845 130 1920 (local rate). Fax: 01484 601401. Email: sales@easilift-loading-systems.co.uk Web: www.easilift-loading-systems.co.uk

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