new dock shelter installation Cleveland

Need a New Dock Shelter? Tips to Know If It’s Time.

Think you might need a new dock shelter? Our Cleveland dock shelter sales and installation team can help you select and install the setup you need to keep loads moving safely and efficiently through your facility.

Here, we explain how to find a dock shelter that fits the needs of your operation and how to know it’s time for a repair or replacement.

What Exactly is a Dock Shelter?

A dock shelter, for anyone unfamiliar, is a loading dock component that can help with safety, efficiency and climate control as workers are loading and unloading goods and materials to and from trucks and trailers. With a flexible enclosure that fits around the perimeter of a loading dock opening, it provides sort of a seal between the vehicle and the dock.

Both workers and the materials they’re handling are shielded from exposure to the outdoor elements. This keeps temperatures at a safe and comfortable level (which can lead to fewer on-the-job accidents and higher productivity) while also minimizing pests and debris from getting into the facility.

What are Dock Shelters Made Of?

Dock shelters are typically made of some type of flexible material or highly durable fabric. They come in all sorts of configurations. Depending on your needs, a dock shelter can be:

  • Retractable
  • Stationary
  • Inflatable
  • Curtain-style

Materials used may include:

  • Fabric. Covers and curtains are typically made of heavy-duty materials like PVC-coated polyester or vinyl. They need to be durable and resistant to regular wear-and-tear, UV exposure, weather, etc.
  • Steel frame. Galvanized steel or aluminum in the frame of a dock shelter is going to ensure maximum support and stability, which is needed because its equipment that gets a lot of heavy use.
  • Foam padding. Not only does this help create a tight seal between the padding and the truck, but it offers even greater weather protection.

Each of these offers different benefits, depending on the needs of the operation.

Dock shelters are found at a lot of facilities that handle shipments from truck transport. That can include warehousing and distribution centers, manufacturing companies, 3PL logistics companies, etc.

They’re a must at facilities that handle perishable items or any goods that are temperature-sensitive or particularly vulnerable to weather exposure. This includes items that may be at risk of rust. These are chemical processes set off by the presence of certain metals plus moisture and oxygen. The more moisture and humidity that’s let into your facility through faulty dock shelters, the higher the risk of faster corrosion. These types of facilities may lean more toward dock seals and shelters made of neoprene or vinyl stretched over a foam core, which offer great flexibility, durability and resistance while offering moisture resistance.

A company that transports, stores or packs hazardous materials, chemicals, etc. may opt for dock shelters and seals that are coated with hypalon, a type of synthetic rubber that is heavy-duty and resistant to chemicals, extreme temperatures and ultraviolet light.

Some dock seals and dock shelters are made with some combination of all of the above.

For operations that have fluctuating needs, there may also be the option of inflatable dock shelters. This way, facilities can accommodate vehicles of various sizes and adjust the inflation level to the particulars of the job.

Cleveland dock shelter repair

When Is It Time To Replace Your Dock Shelter?

If you have dock shelters that have seen better days, it’s better not to wait too long to replace them. At the very least, have them inspected if you think they may not be holding up to the task as well as they once did.

The exact lifespan depends on the brand, materials, the local weather conditions/environment and the level of heavy use they get day in and out. Well-maintained dock shelters could last 5 or maybe even 10 years before needing replacement.

Signs that it’s time to start shopping for new dock shelter:

  • Tears or rips. If it’s gotten to the point that you can see punctures, tears and rips in the curtain or the fabric, the equipment has already lost its effectiveness in creating that seal and keeping an even climate.
  • Framework that is damaged or loose. If you see the steel frame is warped or bent or corroded, you’re risking a possible work injury or an expensive loss of goods by putting off replacement. Dock shelters need to have a certain degree of structural integrity to withstand pressure from large trucks and other vehicles.
  • Compression seal issues. If you’re noticing damage to the compression seals or even just the padding around the perimeter of the dock shelter, you probably already have gaps and air leaks that are reducing effective insulation (something your crew has probably noticed as well).
  • Seal that is inefficient. If you notice there isn’t a tight seal that forms around the vehicle that keeps moisture, air, bugs, etc. from getting in, it’s time for either adjustment or replacement.

Bottom line: We recognize dock shelters are a big investment. That’s why we want to help you get it right, get the most life out of the equipment you have and find the right fit in terms of material and cost when it comes time for replacement. We have extensive knowledge and experience and are committed to customer satisfaction.

Advance Door Co. provides dock seal installation services, repairs, and replacements for commercial customers throughout Northeast Ohio, including Cleveland, Parma, and surrounding communities.

Additional Resources:

Design and characteristics of fabric rubber sealing based on microchannel model, Dec. 2019, Composite Structures

More Blog Entries:

What Good are Fabric or Rubber Doors? Cleveland Commercial Door Company Techs Explain, Nov. 15, 2023, Cleveland Dock Shelter Repair and Installation Company Blog