Digitizing The Loading Dock

As a warehouse manager, you probably think that your facilities are fully digitized to work in this information age. No doubt you are using software that has improved efficiency and productivity in picking, forklift and workforce operation. As you’ve been improving the materials handling portion of your business, it’s possible that you’ve ignored the loading dock.

Digitizing the loading dock would help monitor the loading and unloading of trucks.
Management software can monitor how quickly trucks are loaded assuring efficiency and productivity.
(Courtesy: Jaxport at flickr.com)

The loading dock is a critical portion of the warehouse in which shipments are moved onto trucks for delivery. Yet, the loading dock is often ignored as a source for potential insight and efficiency.

The warehouse today has to achieve e-commerce volumes that are soaring day after day, month after month. Due to overwhelming concerns of this portion of the warehouse, the loading dock is often ignored. This results in delays, mistakes, and loss of revenue. Add to that a dwindling labor pool and rapid changes in customer demand that result in loading dock challenges. There is a need for a new and innovative approach to making the loading dock operation much more efficient. This can be achieved by expanding the digital environment into the loading dock.

Warehouses and other distribution centers are now leveraging cloud computing as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) to assist them in gaining more insight of its loading dock operation. This is offering a real-time look into every chain of the supply line including the loading dock.

Warehouse managers may be too busy with other aspects of operation to understand that the loading dock is a pivotal part of the logistics process of the entire warehouse operation.

Drivers have to get to the dock quickly, get unloaded or loaded efficiently and safely and then get back on the road as quickly as possible.

Software is available to expand digital into the loading dock. One such software is 4SIGHT Connect, a digital dock and gate management software. It is designed to make the loading dock more efficient by solving logistical issues.

The Digital Dock

Cloud-based software is making the digital dock possible. It helps a warehouse gain more control over the dock, offers flexibility and control to the process of getting drivers in and out of busy warehouse facilities.

In the case of 4SIGHT Connect, the portion of the software that helps achieve this is referred to as Digital Gate. There is a companion mobile app that drivers can use to pre-check in to a delivery appointment that had previously been arranged by a facility manager using Digital Gate’s scheduling feature. When a driver arrives at the warehouse, he simply signals his arrival by entering information on a tablet-based kiosk or by scanning a QR code. Digital Gate confirms the check in and notifies the driver with a text message that includes instructions on how to proceed. The kiosk doesn’t have to be manned. Instead, the drivers operate the gate and enter the warehouse facility independently.

This software as well as others assures:

• Visibility into the loading dock’s performance from safety to loading and unloading.
• The end of excessive lag time by providing real-time dock status and vehicle restrain information to warehouse managers and sends alerts when dock equipment is in use.
• Dock security that allows supervisors to remotely authorize equipment overrides via any Internet connected device whether they are in the warehouse or not. It also sends alerts when a dock door is open without a trailer being present.

The system includes software, dock equipment and control panels. The inability of managing, monitoring, and improving vital links in the supply chain ends with the use of this type of software.

(Source: mmh.com)