Warehouse managers have to be jacks of all trades, knowing a little bit about a lot of things. One of their most important areas of responsibility is likely to be the loading dock – the hub of warehouse activities, where vehicles, goods and personnel converge.

If you’ve been managing a warehouse for a while, you may know all these loading dock terms. But if you’re not sure of the proper terms for some things on the dock, study up on these and do your own research and learn some more.

Communication Lights

Flashing lights that tell drivers and warehouses personnel that loading or unloading is in progress or when it’s completed. These lights are integral to making sure opening and closing procedures for truck trailer doors are done correctly and safely.

Dock Bumper

Typically made of rubber, these prevent damage to loading dock equipment, vehicles, trailers and warehouse walls. Trucks have to literally “bump” right up against the loading dock, especially those that have overhead trailer doors, and these bumpers keep the trailer from suffering any dings or dents.

Dock Shelter

These flexible enclosures allow trailers to enter into a loading dock while the fabric forms a barrier around the rear of the trailer. They form a loose seal around the trailer so any type of trailer door, whether swing trailer doors or overhead trailer doors, can load and unload at your dock safely and easily. Shelters fit more loosely around the trailer than seals so are likely to last longer.

Dock Seals

Dock seals serve the same purpose as dock shelters, but are foam pads that the truck’s trailer compresses as it back up to the loading dock. Dock seals make it so that, when you open the tractor trailer door, the truck essentially becomes a temporary extension of your warehouse.

Height Differential

This is the difference between the dock height and the highest truck height. Loading dock ramps and levelers are used to deal with this gap.

High Speed Doors

These industrial dock doors are useful for climate control and for minimizing maintenance. They may be roll-up or sectional. Pair high speed overhead doors on your loading dock with well-maintained trailer doors on your freight trucks and you’ve got an extremely efficient loading and unloading process each time you receive or ship.

Loading Dock Leveler

A steel bridge between the warehouse building and the truck bed. The dock won’t match the height of every truck, so gaps can result. Dock levelers close these gaps.

Overhead Doors

Sectional overhead doors move on tracks when opening or closing. They’re made of narrow, interlocking steel slats and include insulated panels.

Vehicle Creep

This results from the back-and-forth rocking motion when a truck moves during loading or unloading. When the truck’s trailer doors are open and you’re going back and forth loading or unloading inventory in the trailer, it’s easy to get into a zone. That zone combined with vehicle creep can cause employees to fall when they step out into open air where they thought there was solid surface. A vehicle or trailer restraint can lock the trailer in place to prevent back-and-forth motions.

Of course there are many more terms to be familiar with when it comes to loading dock procedures, but these will get you started.