In our last Serco blog post, Prevention A Much Better Approach Than Response to Food Contamination Risks, we covered some very basic reasons why it’s so important not to take unnecessary risks with food contamination.
Among several eye-opening statistics we shared, the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association claim the average cost of a recall to a food company is a staggering $10 million! That’s a lot of unnecessary expense, not to mention a lot of wasted food!
Because of stringent guidelines laid down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as well as the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for food and beverage processing and storage, being careless about food safety is definitely not an option. It’s also a matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
It’s a well-known fact that one of the biggest challenges for companies in the food and beverage industry is sustaining a clean warehouse or distribution center environment. Just being clean once in a while, or right before a food safety audit, are not acceptable options as well.
For companies with pit-style levelers especially, the pit area of a loading dock can easily become quite contaminated area in a short period of time. Occasional and accidental food-related spills resulting from forklift tine damage, for example, offer an open invitation to unwanted pests.
Not as clean as you might think
Even loading dock pits that require regular wash-downs may not be as thoroughly cleaned as you might expect (that all depends on the person or the service doing the cleaning). The least little missed food product or food residue will keep pests coming back.
One of the best solutions for food and beverage companies and associated warehouse and distribution center operations, is the innovative vertical storing dock leveler.
Completely contained within a facility, vertical storing dock levelers can be installed on a continuous shelf. That makes it easier to wash down and thoroughly clean the loading dock versus traditional dock levelers mounted in separate concrete pits.
Case in point, Catania Oils (Ayer, Mass.-based provider of vegetable, olive and blended oil products) has added 20 Serco VSL Vertical Storing Dock Levelers to its dock bays in a new 100,000 square feet distribution center. The new Serco VSLs replaced old and faulty spring-loaded dock levelers in what was formerly a nearby vacant food warehouse.
As a food provider, Catania Oils is subject to regular food safety audits. “The vertical storing levelers are much easier to keep clean, especially in the case of an accidental food related spill,” says Dan Brackett, Catania Oils’ director of manufacturing and engineering. He is also convinced the vertical storing levelers will result in much less dock bay downtime. “Because the way the leveler is designed, it will be much easier to maintain than our older, aging equipment (located in other company facilities).”
Because they’re contained inside a facility, vertical storing dock levelers also help to significantly reduce energy loss due to openings between a traditional dock leveler and the dock door. Air escaping through gaps between the leveler and the concrete pit, as well as between the leveler and the door, will create inconsistent temperatures. That then can lead to increased risk of perishables spoiling.
Who needs pathogen-carrying pests anyways?
In addition, a vertical storing dock leveler enables a quality dock door to close flush with the floor. This reduces the potential for dirt and debris, and helps prevent pathogen-carrying pests from entering the facility.
So as you go about the decision-making process and explore how to further maintain proper sanitation standards in your facility—and look for ways to prevent energy loss at the loading dock—we’d like to leave you with these Serco VSL Vertical Storing Dock Leveler design advantages for your consideration:
- Unique hinged bottom draft pad to maintain environmental control.
- Power-in/power-out lip cylinder for superior operational control and less maintenance.
- Run-off guards on the deck assembly to prevent fork lift accidents.
- Maintenance locking bar with lockout pin that prevents use while maintenance or cleaning is in process.
The Serco team looks forward to working with you and your company. Please contact us at 800-933-4834 with any questions about which Serco leveler solution will work best for your facility’s loading dock.