How to Utilize Dock Shelters to Weather the Storm

May 07, 2020

The loading dock is an integral part of any warehouse operation. It’s likely one of the busiest areas in your entire warehouse and helps generate revenue, so you want it to operate as efficiently as possible. Due to its proximity to the outside elements and high productivity, it also makes it a common hazard area where employers run a high risk of being injured. If it rains or strong storms come through, it could multiply the risk of worker’s suffering injuries. So, how can a warehouse reduce the chance of injury and protect workers at a loading dock?

With dock shelters! 

At Southern States Enterprises, we ensure that warehouse operations are always running as efficiently and safely as possible. By providing best-quality products, maintenance plans, and repair services, we are able to meet our client’s unique needs to enhance their operations. As an example, we helped a large home improvement distribution center improve their loading dock conditions to bring extra safety to their employees and increase productivity. Read on to find out how!

About Dock Shelters

To protect employees from elements such as rain, snow, and sleet that could potentially cause injuries, a barrier is needed to seal the outdoors from the loading dock. Dock shelters and dock seals both accomplish this

Dock shelters are a flexible enclosure that allows trailers to pull under and into the opening, while the surface of the fabric forms a contact barrier around the rear of the trailer. They fit loosely around the trailer, so they can shelter a variability of trailer sizes. 

Loading dock seals are also used as barriers between the loading dock door opening and the surface of the backed-in trailer when it is in a position to load or unload assets. Loading dock seals contact the trailer surface at the door and compress to create a tight seal around the door. Dock shelters typically last longer and are more forgiving for drivers than loading dock seals.

When considering installing dock shelters or loading dock seals for your warehouse, proper installation is key for long-term efficiency and maximum safety.

The Client’s Dock Shelter Challenges

The client needed dock shelters to be installed in order to protect their loading docks and warehouse interior from the elements. One of the customers' large distribution center's is based in Florida, where summers are hot and rainy. The client wanted to keep the summer rains out of the building, while still allowing as much air flow as possible so that employees could work comfortably. 

Wet floors during the rainy seasons is one of the primary loading dock area hazards. Dangerous accidents can happen despite precautions such as slip-resistant boots and wet floor warning signs. Loading dock shelters cover the back end of the trailer to create a seak, effectively keeping the worst of the deluge outside of the warehouse. Besides improving employee safety from rain,  dock shelters would allow air flow into the warehouse, so as not to make it stifling and uncomfortable in the Florida heat, and protect against the frequent rain. 

SSE's Dock Shelter Solutions 

The client turned to SSE to outfit their distribution center with twenty dock shelters and provide solutions to their challenges. To prevent rain from entering the loading dock area, SSE installed dock shelter’s manufactured by Fairborn. These dock shelters have frames modified with upper and lower vents in the side panels to provide the necessary protection against the elements while allowing generous air flow. 

The customer approved of the concept and the loading dock shelters installed with the Fairborn frames to allow for maximum air flow and protection for employees during the Florida summers.

Due to COVID-19, the SSE team had to be creative about completing the job. Summer was approaching and the customer needed the dock shelters in time before the rainy season, but COVID-19 limited admittance to the work site. Ultimately, the installation was made over weekends when trailers were not being shuttled.  

Impact of the SSE Dock Shelters

Eventually, all the dock shelters were completed and the distribution center was efficiently and safely equipped for the Florida heat and rain. The dock shelter installation was completed just in time too! The afternoon of the final installation witnessed the first torrential rain storm of the season and the dock shelters were put to the test. 

The result?

No leaks! The customer said the dock shelters worked perfectly. Now they can be reassured that their warehouse is fully prepared for the summer storms and heat. 


With the distribution center now installed with Fairborn loading dock shelters, the loading docks will be protected from the elements and have a steady supply of air flow. 


The COVID-19 crisis delayed installation, but by installing the dock shelters on the weekends, the job was able to be completed in time before the rainy season. 

Does Your Warehouse Need Improved Loading Dock Conditions?

SSE offers a wide variety of dock safety equipment designed to enhance the safety and efficiency of your loading dock area operations. We also offer ongoing warehouse service plans to maintain your loading dock and door equipment in order to keep operations on schedule and avoid serious potential injuries.

Proper loading dock seals and dock shelter installation is a vital component to keeping your assets and employees secure. Our trusted experts are highly qualified and dedicated to improving productivity, efficiency, and safety for your warehouse. For more information on our loading dock equipment and maintenance services, reach out to us today!

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