We’re always looking for ways to increase efficiency at our businesses, and if you’re responsible for a loading dock, you’re no different. Of course you’ve noticed that small gap around the parked trailer, and worried about the amount of heating and air conditioning escaping through the gap.

What’s more, those gaps also allow unwanted things like dust, wind and moisture inside, while creating an entryway for insects and rodents. The result can be product damage, as well as problems with warehouse inspections. Further, these little gaps may be introducing uncomfortable working conditions for your employees.

Dock shelters and dock seals are two different means business owners can overcome these gaps.

Dock Shelters

Dock shelters form a seal around the perimeter of the trailer by applying pressure against the sides of the trailer with fabric curtains fitted with stays. Dock shelters are fairly versatile in that they fit larger dock door openings so that a variety of trailer types and heights can be serviced. There’s minimal damage from daily wear, since they needn’t be compressed by the trailer. These structures are better for loading and unloading efficiency, allowing unobstructed access to loads.

Older models were known for permitting some pretty wide gaps through which contaminants and critters could enter, but newer models have addressed this with improved designs, so that efficiency is much improved.

Dock shelters are usually more expensive than dock seals.

Dock Seals

Dock seals are foam pads. The trailer backs into the dock bumpers and compresses the pad, forming a seal around three sides of the trailer. This is a tight seal for a relatively small expenditure. However, seals are easily worn at docks with heavy traffic. Dock seals are recommended when there is not much variation in size and design of trailers being served.

A drawback of dock seals is that they can restrict trailer access, as fabric from the dock seal side pads and the foam merge into the trailer opening while being compressed by the trailer. Dock seals, on the other hand, take up little space on the outside of the dock, so if you’re concerned about space, these may be better for your dock.

As with most things, better quality dock seals perform better than those of lesser quality. They have features that protect against trailer pressure and friction, burns from trailer marker lights and sagging head pads.