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Warehouse Loading Types

Last Updated Feb. 17, 2022

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Distribution, manufacturing, service, fabrication, storage and many other uses occupy millions of warehouses around the world. Goods go in, goods go out, machinery goes in, machinery goes out - and on and on.

Understanding the types of access to these warehouses is imperative when evaluating business needs and alternative facilities available. In this article we will explore several widely used loading types.

Dock High 

Dock-high loading is synonymous with distribution and storage. Whether uses in distribution centers or port handling facilities, dock loading facilities are a necessity when unloading and loading contents from and to over the road containers. True dock loading and the most preferred is accomplished when the truck court is at natural ground level and the warehouse floor is at or near 48” in height.

Semi-Dock or 1/2 Dock 

Semi-Dock is almost always at 24” in height, hence the name 1/2 dock. or half dock. This type of loading is mainly used to transfer product between the warehouse and standard short box trucks (UPS type) and/or standard pickups/delivery trucks.

Grade Level 

Grade level loading is when the overhead door entry is at or very near the level of the natural grade level of the truck court. Grade level loading is necessary for fork lift access to the truck court or yard to access trailers and transfer product. Grade level loading is also required for facilities which have mandatory truck/trailer access to the interior of the building. Quasi grade level loading can be accomplished with a dock high slab by adding a ramp down to grade/natural ground level.

Exterior Docks 

If adequate yard area exists, a grade level building can incorporate dock access by adding an exterior built up dock, at 24” or 48”, with a ramp down either in the yard or into the warehouse.

Dock Well 

Also in a grade level building, dock access can be achieved by installing a dock well, to 24” or 48” or both. The dock well is a ramp down into the ground usually meeting the slab of the building. This loading type enables the building to utilize its natural grade level attributes while incorporating true dock level transfer with a tractor trailer.

If you’ve ended up with a grade level building, and you find that you need at least some dock-high loading capability, have a look at our article on How to Use a Grade Level Facility for Dock-High Loading.

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