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Case Studies

Oct 24, 2013

USPS Palm Beach


Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Damaged Dock Doors...

The 400,000 sq ft U.S. Postal Service distribution center in West Palm Beach, FL sends out mail to a territory that runs from Fort Pierce to Key West through 45 dock doorways. There are many times throughout the day when every one of these doors are being used – not just during the holidays – and to ensure these are all available this facility switched to TKO® CruiserWeight® dock doors with the Wind Load package and Serco® hydraulic powered dock levelers. This system was designed, installed and integrated by Curlin, Inc.

“Mail comes in and out of here 24/7, Christmas and New Years included,” says Maintenance Manager Ken Goodrich, “and we can’t afford to have any one of those doorways unavailable to us.”

The TKO CruiserWeight doors with Wind Load Package took care of two issues for the West Palm Beach facility. The doorways were protected with steel doors that were going on 20 years old and were taking a beating from forklifts running into them. Some of the hits were a result of the dock filling up with mail handling containers, pallets and carts, with the tightening area causing accidental turns into the doors. The facility was continually replacing these doors and busting them regularly,” recounts Goodrich.

Designed the same as a standard garage door with guide rollers in an enclosed track that can compress from a forklift impact, the doors become hard to open and dockworkers are prone to leaving the doors open between truckloads.

All postal handling facilities are to be secured operations. Management tries to police the docks to ensure the doors are always closed, but cannot be everywhere.

Worse, door replacement could take two to three months, making that doorway unavailable and leading to trucks having to wait longer to load or unload.

They brought the CruiserWeight doors onto to their dock to keep the mail flowing. The doors glide along an indestructible UHMW track on 3/4" spring-loaded, quick release, zincplated steel plungers. The 8’x 10’ doors have a radius track to accommodate the building’s 16 ft high ceiling.

The track is designed with a VGrove, enabling the plungers to slide out when the panel is hit, preventing damage to the panel. Yet, the V-Groove prevents the door from being pushed in from the outside for dock security.

When the door is hit and the panel releases from the track, a quick pull on the door handle or plunger resets the door and it is back in operation quickly. “If a door gets hit we don’t have to worry about replacing it or wasting a lot of time dealing with the damage,” notes Goodrich.

Along with making standard doors hard to open, any damage can lead to gaps between the panel and the doorframe. The dock area is air-conditioned and any loss of cool air can be costly to this facility. The TKO CruiserWeight door has its gasket attached to the panel, not the doorframe where it can be torn off by passing forklifts. The TKO gasket seal rides up with the door panels keeping it safe from harm to provide a consistent seal. Another issue for this dock is high wind events. With the TKO Wind Load Package, high winds cannot push in the door. The door panels can bear what the elements throw, certified to positive pressure of up to 57.3 lb/sq ft and negative pressure of up to 68.3 lb/ sq ft.

The wind load equipped CruiserWeight has multiple slide locks. As a storm approaches, the dockworkers engage and secure slide locks on each side of the panels. Once the storm passes, they easily disengage the slide locks and the door is operational again. A porthole replaces the standard door window.

As with the previously used doors, the crew operates the TKO doors using a manual chain hoist, only now as one of the crew puts it, “these doors are not such a pain in the back to operate.”

The West Palm Beach facility also uses Serco hydraulic powered levelers with the SafeTFrame® feature. The maintenance crew had to re-weld their old dock levelers a number of times due to age, abuse and the improper application of their old dock levelers. When these levelers would break free from their welds, the moving platforms pose a major safety hazard.

For decades all pit installed dock levelers required an installer to place and weld steel shim under the rear frame of the dock leveler to level the device and provide long-term support. This process can lead to install errors as installers are often working under the dock leveler in a cramped environment and may not use the correct size shim and/or weld the shim properly. The dock leveler can suffer structural fatigue, which may lead to expensive repair or replacement.

The SafeTFrame design includes four heavy-duty vertical uprights at the rear of the leveler. Each rear support has an adjustable 3”x3” pad on the pit floor.

Rather than working in the pit, the installer at dock floor level adjusted the leveling bolts using a standard ½” square head socket located at the top rear of the dock leveler deck. Additionally, SafeTFrame allows an adjustment point on each front support pedestal to be accessed through the open lip hinge area using the same socket. The installer precisely adjusted both the front pedestals and rear supports through a 1 ½” range.

Once the leveler was adjusted it was welded into place. When in use, forklifts have a smooth passage onto the dock and will not jar the leveler platform the thousands of times they make that trip, and preventing the leveler from breaking its weld.

Serco hydraulic dock levelers provide fast, easy and safe push-button operation. When compared to other types of levelers, hydraulic dock levelers provide the most durable performance and with their heavy-duty construction combined with the SafeTFrame feature, have the lowest lifetime cost of ownership.

Other safety features on these hydraulic levelers include a velocity fuse on their regenerative hydraulic systems to restrict free fall should a trailer leave prematurely, and the HYDRA MAX control lip system that combines the benefits of a gravity-fall lip and power-in lip control using a double-acting cylinder that ensures the leveler completes its proper functions in all operating cycles.

There a 13-person crew to service the needs of this large facility. “This is a processing and distribution operation,” says Goodrich, “and we’d rather put our time towards the mail handling and processing equipment. The dock is pretty much maintenance free.” The system implemented by Curlin, Inc. eliminated downtime, reduced energy costs and improved worker productivity.