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With the launch of our new web site, we’ve added a blog. Here we’ll keep you updated on the latest news and trends for safety in the material handling industry. That may cover many topics, from the latest forecasts for manufacturing and material handling, updates in regulations and standards from OSHA and ANSI, as well as some of our safety gate installations and custom work.

On the blog you’ll also find updates from some of the organizations we belong to, like MHEDA and MHI, as well as MHI’s ProGMA Committee.

We’re looking forward to sharing our news and views with you, and if there is a topic you would like us to touch on, just let us know.

The Open Top Safety Gate Story

Our story of turning custom safety gates into standard models in our product line continues with the history of our Open Top safety gate model. This model, like the others, was driven by a customer need that we saw in other facilities across many industries. We’re seeing a pattern - are you?

We were contacted by a major chemical company that had pallet drop areas on their production platforms that were unsafe because they were just using latch chains across the edge for fall protection. These chains were often left open, leaving workers exposed to falls from the ledge, and even created another safety hazard - the potential to trip over the chain when it was closed. The company’s safety team wanted to replace this unsafe situation with one of our dual-barrier systems that would ensure a fall protection barrier was in place at all times.

Our traditional dual-gate safety systems were quickly ruled out as an equipment choice because the operation used an overhead hoist. Up until that time, all of our standard safety gate models had overhead mechanics, which would have interfered with the customer’s operations. At this facility, hoists were used to lift super sacks from the ledge of the production platform and move them back into a hopper.  It’s fairly common in chemical and food manufacturing plants to find the use of overhead devices, like vacuums or hoists, in these plant processing applications where bags of ingredients are blended. We knew that instead of asking the customer to change their operations, we had to design a system that would integrate with their application.

The safety gate that our team had to create for the customer’s facility needed to use two interconnected gates that would close one side while opening the other, without any overhead components that would integrate with the overhead hoist. This required a new dual-gate design that connected the gates off to the side After testing many prototypes, the Open Top Model was created.

The Open Top safety gate features ergonomically counterbalanced gates that make for easy operation. When the ledge gate opens to the side, the rear gate closes, preventing employees from falls off the platform. The gates are connected with solid torque shaft and hardened gears, which are housed in a metal enclosure to protect the components and to keep people’s hands away from the moving parts. Overhead vacuums or chain hoists can then access the pallet drop area and can pass through overhead. When the ledge gate is closed, it creates a fall protection barrier at the ledge, and the rear gate opens to the side, allowing employees to safely access the material. In addition to accommodating overhead obstructions, the Open Top is also a good solution if tall pallets are being loaded into the pallet drop area.

Our customer installed the Open Top model at their facility and were happy that the safety gates not only provided fall protection, but did not impede on production.  Since the creation of the Open Top model, we've installed them in locations throughout the U.S. They are available in powder-coated mild steel or in all stainless steel construction. Open Top models can be fabricated in custom widths and depths and and are even available in ninety-degree configurations.

Safety Gates Secure Grocer's Loading Dock Lifts

Custom designs are our specialty...as we mentioned in our post last week, our new Dock-Lift safety gate began as a custom design for a customer. The national grocery store chain’s safety need was not inside the facility, but rather in the busy loading dock area in which deliveries are made each day.

In some loading dock operations lifts are installed to help transfer pallets of material. Employees often ride the lift from ground or dock level to align with the tailgate of the tractor trailer when they are moving material on and off of the truck. When the lifts elevate, employees are at risk for falls if there is no protection provided on the lift.

Docks and material handling operations vary widely from facility to facility - even the grocery store chain had different environments for their distribution centers and even stores. Large grocery stores often have dock areas to get their daily deliveries, with material coming from their separate distribution centers or individual suppliers. Our customer had multiple applications that used lifts in their dock operations, so our engineering team had to really dig into the ways each lift was being used to create the right fall protection safety equipment.

The Dock-Lift safety gate configuration that was the most popular in the grocery chain was one in which the gates moved in a crossing-guard style pattern. As the lift elevates, the gates automatically close and lock into place. The gates stay closed and locked until the lift goes back to ground level, providing fall protection while the lift is raised and material is moved from the lift, truck and dock.

Because each lift was in a fairly unique environment, our team created multiple Dock-Lift gate configurations based on the operation of each lift. In one of the grocery store dock operations, there was an awning that limited the height for any equipment on the lift. In this instance, we needed to create a safety gate in which the gates swung outward instead of in a crossing-guard style.

In addition, some of the lifts used at the grocery stores had specific dock traffic patterns so the gate design needed to accommodate the flow of the trucks moving around the area. Some of these areas used gates that swing outward, sometimes with a single gate that covered the entire eight foot lift. In other applications, bi-parting gates were used to prevent the gate from swinging into the delivery area. Our team also created a safety gate that can roll into position after the traffic has moved, and then can be rolled back into a safe position once the material has been transferred.

All of the Dock-Lift safety gates feature automatically closing gates, which ensures fall protection for any worker on the lift. They can be made in multiple configurations, depending on the operations of your dock, and in powder-coated mild or stainless steel. In addition, they meet OSHA regulations and ANSI standards for safety on lifts. Let us know if you have a dock environment that you need to secure; we’d love to help.

Fall Protection for Dock Lifts

For over 30 years, we’ve focused on keeping employees working on elevated areas safer. We’ve focused on the inside of the facility used in material handling, manufacturing and distribution. Our original dual-gate safety system, the Roly model, has been installed in hundreds of facilities around the world.

It’s no secret we love creating custom-design safety gates for material handling and manufacturing facilities. In fact, it’s how our full line of pallet drop safety gate models has come to life. Our newest design, the Dock-Lift safety gate, launches this week and is another example of a customer asking us to create a fall protection solution for their needs.

We were contacted by a national grocery chain to help them make their operations safer, but their need was not inside the facility; it was in their loading docks, a busy area in which many deliveries are made each day.

Our engineering team worked to develop a new style of safety gate that would protect workers using dock lifts. Employees often ride the lift from ground or dock level to align with the tailgate of the tractor trailer when they are moving material on and off of the truck. When the lifts elevate, employees are at risk for falls if there is no protection provided on the lift.

The new safety gate model has been named the Dock-Lift safety gate, and it is now part of our standard product line. This design provides fall protection for employees riding the lift, and is available in a number of configurations and designs.

The Dock-Lift safety gates automatically close and lock into place as the lift elevates, forming a barrier for employees riding the lift, as they make the transition from the tractor trailer to the loading dock or ground level. The gates stay locked until the lift is lowered and back on the ground. The gates open when the platform is on aligned with the ground level so material can be transferred on and off the lift.

The newly designed Dock-Lift safety gates meet OSHA and ANSI codes for work platform lifts and aerial scissors platforms, and are available in powder coated mild steel. We’ve also been awarded U.S. Patent No. 9630823 for our swinging gate style Dock Lift safety gate, with another patent pending. The patents are numbers five and six for our safety gate product line.

We’re very excited to expand our reach into the loading dock area, and provide safety gate designs to keep workers safe outside of the facility too. Let us know if you have questions or a need for our new Dock-Lift safety gates.

 

 

Tri-Side Safety Gate: The History

Many of our pallet drop safety gate models start out as custom designs for customers; the Tri-Side safety gate is another great example. We invented the Tri-Side safety gatemodel for a large drug store chain. We had worked with the drug store chain over many years, and had installed hundreds of safety gates in their distribution centers across the country. The drug store chain primarily used our Rack-Supported Roly safety gates to provide fall protection in its pick modules, and also installed some free-standing versions of the Roly safety gate on their mezzanines. 

When the customer built a new distribution center, they reached out to us to provide fall protection systems, noting that they had a few areas in which the pallet drop area was in a walkway. Space was an issue in these areas; fall protection was needed, but there was not enough space for a Roly mezzanine safety gate model. To provide fall protection in this area, our engineers went to work to design a custom safety gate that had the benefits of the dual-gate system, but took up less space on the mezzanine.

The Tri-Side safety gate was created for this job. The Tri-Side model has a U-shaped rear gate, which when lifted up allows access to the workstation while the ledge gate closes to the deck, creating a secure work environment. The model has fixed stanchions only 14 inches deep, creating a controlled-access area while taking up a minimum amount of space on the work platform. Pallets can be accessed from either side, and be removed straight back into an area or to either ninety degree side. The drug store chain installed Tri-Side safety gates in the work areas with the pallet drop areas in the walkways. 

Since the creation of the custom Tri-Side design, many other customers have voiced the same concern and space limitations. Given the need for and popularity of the model, we added the Tri-Side design to our standard product line over 10 years ago. We can fabricate them in stainless or mild steel. The safety gates can also be power operated, and can be made in custom widths, depths and heights.

The Tri-Side safety gate model has also been installed in a number of customer facilities with pick modules as a rack supported design. In these pick module applications, the existing pallet rack is used for support; this is a great design for pallet drop areas located on the sides of the module.

It’s also available in a compact design making it ideal to provide fall protection in doorways, especially when they integrate with overhead climate or fire doors. Production platforms in which employees are opening ingredient bags and dumping them into a hopper, are also a perfect spot for the Tri-Side model. The most unique application in which the Tri-Side safety gates have been used are on scissor-lift tables to secure the areas as lifts are raised and lowered.

We’re always happy to work with customers to create a fall protection solution that works for their specific material handling application. Whether you need a standard design or don’t really know where to start, we’re at your service.