Get Creative with Obsolete Buildings and Get Ahead in Ecommerce

Location. Location. Location. A mantra that once defined successful retailing now applies to today’s rapid-paced Ecommerce environment. Only this time, finding an ideal “location” refers to nabbing existing buildings in close proximity to customers to serve as in-fill distribution centers.

Although many of these industrial buildings lack the design specs needed for fast-paced distribution, they can be transformed into viable shipping operations more quickly than new construction. To meet consumers’ “need-it-now” delivery paradigm, retrofitting these obsolete facilities and their loading docks is critical to fueling Ecommerce distribution.

So grab the paddles and get creative to breathe life into these buildings:

  1. Visualize Possibilities:  Consider the property your blank canvas and make the assets work for you. Size and configuration can all contribute to workable loading space, including installation of non-traditional docks to load inside the building, in a parking lot, etc.
  2. No More Mortar:  If you’re planning to shatter the bricks and mortar of traditional retail, leave concrete out of the equation. This permanent solution kills the flexibility and speed that is critical in the Ecommerce delivery environment.
  3. Gain Flexibility:  Modularity is “velcro” for buildings; explore portable loading docks and ramps that are easily installed for loading, and then unbolted and relocated when needed to accommodate Ecommerce trends.
  4. Smooth Operation:  Self-standing cross dock loading systems mimic permanent set-ups at major retail fulfillment centers. Set up virtually anywhere on property, cross docks receive incoming trailers, sort loads, then move product cross-dock for immediate transport. Online meal delivery companies significantly benefit from self-standing cross docks for expedited unloading/sorting/re-loading without having to store perishables.
  5. Mixed Bag:  As FedEx vans, Postal carrier trucks and Uber drivers have joined the ranks of possibilities to handle last-mile customer delivery, ensure that loading docks and levelers can accommodate these varying trunks and trailer sizes so transfer of goods is safe and won’t damage product shipments.
  6. Big Picture:  Getting closer to customers can mean smaller urban spaces and the need for bigger thinking. Walk through each step of the operation to pre-determine issues, such as the turning radius needed for semi tractor/trailers (requires a 150 ft. approach when two docks are side by side).
  7. Clear the Decks:  Check in with local city government to investigate any environmental restrictions or zoning issues that would inhibit loading operations or influence your dock configurations, particularly if the building has remained vacant.

To deploy a loading dock engineer to virtually tour a property via Google Earth, call Dockzilla Co. at 1-800-637-3036 or email: sales@dockzilla.com. Together, you can review more creative options and loading configurations to help retrofit your building.

 

Top 4 Modular Products for Ecommerce Flexibility

In today’s retail world, Ecommerce is the new black. Anticipating half of America’s shopping malls to close by 2030 and retailers moving fulfillment centers closer to their customers, remaining nimble in this environment is critical.

To help retailers more quickly immerse their business in this non-traditional territory, Dockzilla modular loading dock products are providing the speed, flexibility, and loading ingenuity e-tailers need. These workhorses are engineered to pre-meditate common loading issues so shipping & logistics executives can confidently concentrate on other areas of their business.

Here’s how Dockzilla modular loading docks offer the mother lode of benefits to support Ecommerce infrastructure:

  • These portable loading docks, ramps, and platforms can report for duty in less than 8 weeks
  • These portable units require minimal installation and can be relocated when business demands
  • A wide variety of stationary, mobile, and specialty dock and ramp configurations address property limitations and opportunities
  • Dockzilla engineers can recommend a completely modular approach to loading; they often team up with a customer’s engineering team to collaborate

Developed by engineers who built their careers addressing the rigors of OSHA and International Building Codes, Dockzilla products mirror the performance of a traditional concrete loading dock in a heavy-steel portable unit. All Dockzilla products are exclusively built with non-negotiable safety features and flexibility that can swiftly get Ecommerce companies up and running and improve their loading velocity.

Dockzilla in Action:

Portable Loading Docks Create Loading Opportunities

Under the Ecommerce growth model, shopping centers are becoming online order pickup destinations or fulfillment space for local deliveries. When the loading docks at a shopping center are maxed out, a Portable Loading Dock can maximize the ample parking lot space to create a thriving loading/unloading area.

Dock Houses

With former big box retailers moving out of their physical properties to focus on online retail, these buildings can be easily retrofitted into a distribution center. When additional dock positions are needed, modular Dock Houses provide an “velcro dock” approach that is bolted to the building, yet is easily removed and relocated when needed. Dock Houses eliminate companies having to cutaway from a building’s existing floor space to construct a loading dock, and protects the warehouse interior and products from theft, rodents, and harmful outside elements.

Mobile Loading Dock

Urban in-fill centers and warehouses offer valued proximity to the end customer, but can lack space for traditional loading dock operations. Offering a modern approach, Mobile Loading Docks include wheels for easy maneuvering into place by a forklift. When the job is finished, these docks are easily moved again for storage or to tackle a loading job elsewhere on property.

Self-Standing Cross Docks

Modular Cross Dock loading systems mimic permanent set-ups at major retail fulfillment centers. These self-standing units can be set up virtually anywhere on property to avoid traffic jams by receive incoming trailers, sort loads, then move product cross-dock for immediate transport. Online meal delivery companies significantly benefit from self-standing cross docks for expedited unloading/sorting/reloading without having to store perishables.

 

6 Tips to Accelerate Your Ecommerce Distribution Setup

Fueled by changing shopping preferences, expedited service expectations, and demographics, Ecommerce companies are rewriting the playbook on how, and when, online orders reach customers. For retailers who feel like they need to play catch up in order to compete, there’s still time to gain velocity and create a thriving shipping operation in a shortened timeframe.

The Commercial Real Estate Development Association says Ecommerce companies are in a big hurry to begin operating smaller infill centers. According to Lawrence R. Armstrong, CEO of International Design Firm, Ware Malcomb, “We are doing a lot of work on functionally obsolete industrial buildings right now because the Ecommerce people cannot wait for us to design [and construct] new buildings.”

For shipping & logistics executives looking to compete amongst fast-paced models such as Amazon’s 1-hour delivery, and Target’s next day re-stock initiative, here’s how to accelerate your timeline: a) during the search for distribution and in-fill facilities, b) by quickly getting operations up and running, and c) increasing the speed of loading and unloading.

Avoidable Set-Backs: Working with architects, obtaining building permits, and even concrete curing requirements can delay your move-in by weeks or even months. Anticipate these items and select alternatives to office buildouts and concrete construction such as fabric walls and portable mezzanines to make up time.

Shorten the Search: Select the best building to support your business strategy and customer needs. Ideal for the changing demands of Ecommerce, modular loading configurations make it possible to create loading areas anywhere on property and can be re-configured if the business priorities change.

Move It: From modular office spaces to modular loading docks, this portable, relocatable equipment will arrive in less than 8 weeks and requires little to no installation.

Thumbs Down to Hands-On: While having employees unload manually using carts and dollies seems like one of the fastest ways to get up and running ASAP, it’s actually one of the slowest. By comparison, unloading trailers using a forklift and yard ramp increases productivity by 90%.

Automate: Improve existing or portable loading docks with best-in-class products that can translate to efficiency, such as hydraulic dock levelers, push button operation, and automatic vehicle restraints. These products intuitively deliver smooth forklift transition between building and trailer bed and keep trailers steadfast during loading so your employees can operate confidently and more quickly.

Stay Safe, Keep Moving: Nothing can bring loading operations to a grinding halt more quickly than an employee accident. Working against tight deadlines can sometimes impact safety decisions, so a review of the OSHA standards or IBC codes can help ensure employee needs are prioritized.

 

Test Drive the Loading Dock Before Signing a Lease

When shopping industrial buildings for a major company move, it can be easy to overlook what’s lurking at the loading dock.  Because modular forklift ramps can quickly modernize any existing shipping/receiving setup, the facility’s loading dock situation shouldn’t preclude you from finding the best option for your business.   

 

To help you easily assess a facility’s existing operations, Dockzilla’s engineers created a Loading Dock Test Drive.  Whether you’re a logistics expert or new to this part of the business, the test drive can help you ensure the current docks will be successful for your business, or if modifications are needed via a checklist:

  1. Getting Organized:  Meet with your logistics/warehouse team to determine priorities and expectations for the docks, such as loading volume, key measurements, and plans to reconfigure down the road.
  2. As-Is:  When looking to make an existing dock work for your company, the test drive will tell you what to look for in terms of safety codes and dock condition.
  3. Fine Print:  Pay special attention to key details related to loading dock construction in the lease.  They may seem simple at first, but can cost thousands upon lease reclamation.
  4. Test Drive Results:  Once you know the dock’s pros and cons, Dockzilla engineers can help you find a modular loading dock fix or modification to meet your business needs.

 

To deploy a Dockzilla engineer to review a facility’s test drive details, email the document to testdrive@dockzilla.com or call 1-800-637-3036.  Dockzilla will work with you to help quickly modernize any facility with modular loading docks, forklift ramps, and platforms.  If your company requires added loading capacity or mobile loading dock options, our engineers can also zoom into a facility’s address on Google Earth to conduct a visual assessment.  

 

In addition, Grant Leum, founder of the Dockzilla modular loading dock concept offers a variety of tips via “whiteboard videos” at www.dockzilla.com/move-on.  Taking the loading docks for a test drive will help you assess the existing loading dock scenario at any property like a pro so you can confidently identify loading dock pluses and pitfalls before you sign a lease or contract.

 

Let Freedom at the Loading Dock Ring!

As the July 4th fireworks fizzle out, the celebration of freedom continues in an unlikely place – the loading dock.  

Since the introduction of heavy-steel Dockzilla portable loading docks in 2011, countless U.S. manufacturers have seceded from the permanence of traditional loading docks.  By deploying Dockzilla’s intuitive forklift loading ramps, companies can build a loading dock, fix an existing dock, or add flexibility to their loading operations – without any concrete excavation, building permits, or significant downtime.  

To further achieve freedom from a concrete dock, Dockzilla engineers have designed a range of “stationary and mobile loading ramps” to tackle customer loading challenges.  

  • Adjustable Portable Loading Dock – handles rigorous loading volume and has the ability to adjust heights depending on incoming trailers
  • Mobile Loading Dock – is easily maneuvered into place by a forklift for the flexibility to load/unload anywhere on a property and then store the unit elsewhere
  • Wide Load Mobile Yard Ramp – features the widest loading deck available; a full 108” loading deck for easily navigating extremely wide loads and achieving 100% trailer capacity
  • Interior Loading Dock – creates a fully functional loading dock “inside” a building when space is limited outside a facility

The only true portable loading dock design on the market, Dockzilla modular loading units are manufactured in the United States.  From stem to stern, and dock plate to loading deck, these units source premium safety and performance components from American businesses, such as:  bumpers in OH; cylinders in MI; pumps in CA; hoses in MN; dock levelers in SC; as well as nationwide sales and warranty support.

In addition, to minimize shipping costs by manufacturing closer to customers, Dockzilla is manufactured at two facilities in TX and MI.  We salute our customers and partners who work hard and enjoy the freedom provided by portable loading docks from sea to shining sea.

No Two Loading Docks Alike: Dockzilla Tackles Any Scenario

The last thing you want to discover when moving into a new facility is that the loading docks are incompatible with your business needs.  Taking the time to test drive the loading docks at the facilities in consideration will save you time and money.  

Before you hit the docks, meet with your leadership team and warehouse/shipping management for key details:  

  1. Number of loading docks needed
  2. Typical trailers loaded/unloaded and their bed height/trailer width
  3. Special dock requirements – e.g., extra wide or extremely heavy loads

While no two loading docks are alike, the engineers at Dockzilla place existing loading docks in these categories:  

elevated door with level approach

elevated door with sloped approach

garage door at grade level 

 

Taking a few simple measurements can help you further evaluate the loading docks at any facility:  

  1. How tall are doors?  All freight has to enter and leave through a business’s loading door, making this a potential choke point in the case of the wrong solution.  
  2. How wide are the loading doors?  This will help determine what kind of forklift can be used and whether a specialty ramp is needed that can unload directly from a trailer.  
  3. What is the dock height from the ground outside?  If the height of the dock aligns with heights of your typical trailers, then you’re in good shape.  If not, there are portable loading docks with adjustable legs and other configurations that provide a sturdy and smooth transition between both trailer and facility.

Why this is important?  

Businesses that don’t address their loading dock discrepancies find they eventually pay for it in reduced productivity, such as:  

  1. More difficulty for forklifts to maneuver
  2. Manual loading/unloading is still necessary for trailers that are higher or lower than dock height
  3. More time spent re-positioning a trailer

Strengthening and improving operations at a facility can be a resource intensive initiative. That’s why Dockzilla heavy-steel loading ramps take the guess work out of planning, evaluation, and configuration.  Our engineers will deliver a portable loading dock, ramp, or platform that best fits your loading needs and makes the transition into a new facility well worth the move.  

How Your Business Can Save a Truckload at the Loading Dock

When shipping/receiving challenges pose a threat to the bottom line, the costs and downtime associated with new loading dock construction can send businesses into the fetal position. To lighten this load, it’s important to remember that not all loading dock designs are set in stone. In fact, the decisions you make now to improve loading operations can have major implications in the future, when your lease ends or you move to another facility.

One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is what type of material to use. We’re all familiar with concrete loading docks, a permanent dock design which is the most ubiquitous style on the market. However; heavy-steel loading docks are delivering a more flexible solution that combines the integrity and DNA of a concrete loading dock into a portable loading unit that can be relocated to other facilities.

While there’s the obvious savings of more than $25,000-$50,000 by avoiding concrete installation, heavy-steel loading docks from Dockzilla offer significant return on investment over the course of the long haul. Here’s how to reap a truckload of savings:

Downtime  –  Several months may be required to secure a site plan, zoning assessments, and construction permits for the installation of permanent docks. Heavy-steel portable docks report for duty within 6-8 weeks. 

Environmental Concerns  –  When installing a permanent loading dock, environmental factors can deter construction, such as requirements for disposal of hazardous materials, nearby wetlands, or storm sewers needed. Available in a variety of stationary and mobile models, heavy-steel loading docks can accommodate any of these issues.

Contractors and Architects  –  A concrete loading dock will likely require input from architects, contracts, and city engineers that can rack up professional fees. Dockzilla engineers offer complimentary consultation and design services to deliver the portable loading dock option that’s best for your business.

Depreciation  –  One of the most overlooked ways to save on loading docks is depreciation. Permanent loading docks are considered a “building improvement” expense and depreciate over the course of 30-50 years; while portable loading docks are an “equipment expense,” which depreciates in just 7-10 years. Work with your finance or purchasing department to determine the scenario that would work best over time.

Reclamation  –  Many facility leases have a reclamation clause, which may require tenants to return the building to its original condition when the lease ends. If a business built a concrete loading dock, they would need to invest in costly demolition and site clean up. Heavy-steel loading docks are portable, which means they can be easily relocated to another facility, or sold to an incoming tenant, eliminating unnecessary reclamation costs.

The Struggle is Real: The Smartest Way to Access Trailers with a Forklift

In situations where there is no dedicated dock entrance, getting freight loaded and unloaded can became a real drag on time and resources. Obtaining forklift access into trailers can significantly improve loading/unloading productivity – up to 80% faster than loading/unloading by hand.

Getting forklifts into trailers is waaaayyyyyy easier than it sounds (see photo). In fact, Dockzilla Mobile Loading Ramps and Docks can be easily wheeled up to the trailer – anytime, anywhere. They allow for quick optimization of every job for forklift ramp accessibility. These heavy steel, yet easily maneuverable mobile forklift ramps provide immediate, safe trailer access. These features allow your team to turn a loading hassle into a turn-key loading operation.

forklift loading ramp stuggles
Loading a trailer with a forklift does not have to be this hard.

 

For growing businesses in search of larger facilities or warehouses to accommodate their needs, Dockzilla products are ideal solutions. Here are some of the most common loading scenarios that are outsmarted with Dockzilla mobile dock ramp solution:

Dockzilla loading ramps are ideal for use with forklifts and trailers.

  • Many facilities provide ideal office environments inside, yet offer inadequate docking space outside which can bottleneck your bottomline. Mobile loading docks and ramps allow you to make the most of the space available. First, a truck enters the loading area and maneuvers into position. Then, a forklift can move the flexible mobile ramp into position for unloading.
  • Getting heavy forklift loads up a ramp can require extreme finesse. Dockzilla mobile loading docks and ramps give forklift operators a better experience with tall safety sidecurbs, and handrails that exceed OSHA requirement for concrete ramp structures (1910.23(c)(1) and (c)(2)) and make it easier to navigate when you can’t see over the top of a load.
  • When loading directly from the ground into a trailer, there is often the concern that a ramp might become detached from the trailer during loading operation. Dockzilla ramps mitigate against this possibility with emergency fall protection designs featuring self-standing front legs (mobile dock) or a patented “hydraulic leg system” (mobile ramp) and wheel chocks that ensure a steadfast loading experience. This means that, even when using it as a forklift ramp, you have maximum stability.

For any business, loading efficiency is vital to success, and loading/unloading should not be a daily Tetris match. With Dockzilla mobile loading ramps, simply prep the ramp to move, enlist your forklift, and quickly pivot to a new location. Finally, This will free up valuable time and resources, so you can focus on running your business.

5 Sticky Situations You Can Avoid With Dockzilla®

forklift on dockzilla portable loading dock

Although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when evaluating your company’s efficiency and savings, your loading dock is the gateway to your bottom line. Here are five real-life situations in which a Dockzilla portable loading dock solution shines.

1.  When your department is one day away from a pizza party to celebrate workplace safety, someone falls off the yard ramp your boss ordered from a catalog.

Dockzilla exceeds industry standards with safety guard rails to protect employees from unnecessary tumbles, and your business from dropping the safety incentive pizza pie. Unlike commodity ramps, Dockzilla portable loading docks protect your assets and your crew with OSHA and IBC safety features required on conventional concrete docks, delivered standard with wheel chocks, safety chains, and tall side curbs.

2.  It’s crunch time and orders are stacking up, but an employee is injured unloading a trailer by hand, which means your priorities have shifted to incident documentation.

Dockzilla uses the power of the forklift to reduce awkward motions and operator errors that can put employees at risk. Dockzilla designs include no manual pumping to adjust the ramp, double-tine forklift raising, automatic wheel placement, and more to ensure reduced costs from employee injury claims and time spent on medical leave.

3.  Your current facility is bursting at the seams and your boss assigns you to handle the dreaded company move. After countless hours of wading through logistics, you tour the perfect facility…then you venture out to the loading dock.

Dockzilla portable loading docks and forklift ramps are ideal for companies who need the power of a loading dock in a unit that can report for duty in six to eight weeks. Further impressing your boss, these heavy-steel docks perform like a concrete dock, yet can be relocated or sold when the lease expires. Dockzilla Docks also won’t cost you downtime due to permits needed for permanent dock construction, or architect fees for specialized design due to environmental restrictions. Just order, position, and use year-round.

4.  Your plated trays for this afternoon’s wedding are on wheel racks in the kitchen, but your refrigerated catering truck is outside. You’ve got mere minutes before food safety regulations gobble up the profit from your first big gig.

Dockzilla is all the muscle you need to ensure those mussels end up safely on the bride’s plate, and not in your parking lot. To prep for this scenario and ongoing business success, Dockzilla parcel dock ramps can be customized to your truck’s bed height. You’ll save manpower and redundancy with the ability to wheel your racks right into the truck. When your business expands from one location to five locations, you can re-assign these relocatable ramps to another location if needed.

5.  Your biggest restaurant account has decided to pick up their beer keg order today. Meanwhile, your team is already loading another truck and the driver is on a lunch break.

Relax, you won’t have to learn how to drive a semi via Google. Hopefully you’ve snagged a Dockzilla mobile yard ramp so you can tap a different dock door for outgoing delivery. Just move Dockzilla into position and get those kegs ready for transport. Dockzilla offers several mobile dock models that can be easily positioned by a forklift to provide split-second flexibility and to ensure your loading operation flows smoothly.

May the 4th be with you!

As emperor of the Galactic Empire, you would think Darth Sidious would have a more disconcerting eye for workplace safety and possible OSHA reportable situations. Here we see his loading ramp is quite steep and – unlike a Dockzilla ramp – has no safety handrails.

 

When operating a motorized work vehicle like an AT-ST, it’s important to have a clean, smooth surface. This operator clearly did not have a reliable Dockzilla portable dock ramp or else he would have made it to the base safely. The high-traction serrated surface surely would have prevented slippage. That’s a lot of paperwork and repair time for one unit!

 

It’s hard to watch Han Solo struggling with a classic case of slow ramp deployment. If he had a Dockzilla, he would have been able to load and unload faster and he’d have even received his unit within 6-8 weeks. He would have surely been off Tatooine before Jabba called the imperials. Also, the high-weld steel construction would have blocked quite a few more of those laser beams!

 

Sometimes you have to get a loading job done in a hurry regardless of the weather conditions. The rebels could have been 80% more efficient if they had used a Dockzilla loading ramp. Dockzilla’s dock houses would have been perfect on a planet like Hoth, where snow can make loading conditions unbearable. Lastly, those large, oversized bacta tanks would have been much easier to get onto their ships with a Dockzilla oversized ramp.

 

In a slippery environment, the last thing anyone wants is to lose traction and risk a dangerous fall. In this pertinent situation, a Dockzilla would have reduced the risk of sliding – it would have kept Jango Fett from having to jump from platform to platform. With a highly mobile and adjustable Dockzilla loading ramp, Jango could have just re-positioned the ramp from station to station without risking a workplace injury.

 

Moving a whole invasion force of robots to Naboo is a BIG job. How do you unload thousands of mechanical units quickly? A Dockzilla mobile loading dock would have provided the quickest of loading solutions. From the grassland of Naboo to the royal palace, a heavy-steel portable dock ramp can be deployed quickly in each unique situation, and then relocated to the next skirmish.

 

In the latest films we see future padawan Rey digging through Jakku’s galactic junk yards and rubble to find salvageable material to fund her startup (to leave the planet). She may never have weighed her loading dock options; although as we can see here, she had to carry everything by hand. A Dockzilla loading ramp would have provided a better option to load her wares because, rather than selling it to the scrap dealer for pennies on the dollar, she would have been able to sell her lightly used Dockzilla unit to the highest bidder. With this recouped cash, she would not have had to wait for Finn and Poe to continue her mission.