What’s Best – a Seal or Shelter for Loading Docks?

What’s Best – a Seal or Shelter for Loading Docks?

While many know that O’Brien Lifting Solutions specializes in cranes and commercial doors, you may not be aware that we also provide complete line of loading docks and loading dock solutions. That’s right – in addition to industrial garage doors and commercial doors, we design, install, and repair a complete range of loading dock and door equipment, including dock levellers, communication systems, truck restraints, dock lifts and dock seals and shelters.

Today we’re going to talk about dock seals and shelters – the difference between them, and why might you choose one dock protection solution over the other. 

loading docks

Dock Seals and Dock Shelters Are Designed to Protect Your Loading Docks

The primary function of both loading dock seals and loading dock shelters is to protect your docks, your equipment, and your people. They work to minimize the gap between trucks and openings on your loading docks to prevent loss of air conditioned or heated air, reducing energy costs and improving efficiency.

So, what’s the difference?

  • Loading dock seals surround the sides and tops of your loading docks with a durable fabric or vinyl material with foam pads or inflatable airbags. When trucks back into your loading docks, the seal presses tightly against the side and top of the truck, creating a tight closure that keeps weather, dust, and other contaminants out, and air-conditioned air in.
  • Loading dock shelters are also positioned around the sides and top of loading docks, and are made of durable materials like vinyl. But a shelter is a frame that surrounds your dock, and top of the shelter is a flexible curtain or canopy that fits over the truck, but does not seal tightly.

Benefits of Seals and Shelters for Your Loading Docks

There are many benefits to adding seals and shelters to your loading docks, like:

  • Protecting your interior environment – seals and shelters help you keep cool air in during summer months, and warm air during the winter, protecting you people and your products from temperature changes, and lowering your heating and cooling costs. 
  • Increased productivity and safety – adding seals and shelters to your loading docks helps keep rain, snow, and ice off your loading bay floors, reducing chance of slipping and injury. In addition, sealing trucks on your loading docks helps your workers load and unload trucks more quickly and efficiently.
  • Prolonging the life of your commercial / industrial garage doors – dock seals and shelters also help protect the sides and tops of your doors from wear and tear from the outside elements, which could prolong the life of your system.

What is Better, A Loading Dock Seal or Loading Dock Shelter?

What is better for loading docks – seals or shelters? In the end, it really depends on what you need for your business.

Loading dock seals are ideal for companies with sensitive products and clean / controlled environments.
Food production, tech manufacturing, drug production – if you need to protect your product from contaminants, pests, or temperature variations, loading dock seals could be right for you. Seals are also generally less expensive than shelters.

  • Cons of loading dock seals – because they are designed to fit so tightly around the truck, they only function well with specific truck sizes. If your truck sizes are relatively standard, this may not present an issue. Seals are also a little more prone to wear and tear than shelters.

Loading dock shelters are ideal when you value versatility. Loading dock seals are able to fit larger dock openings, and can fit a wide variety of trailer heights and styles. They also tend to be a little more durable than seals.

  • Cons of loading dock shelters – they can be more expensive than seals, and do not provide as tight a fit with the truck, allowing more outside air and contaminants into your facility.

Loading Docks – Increase Productivity with O’Brien

Loading docks are the heartbeat of your business, and the last thing you want is for your loading dock design to be cutting into your profits. Choose O’Brien when you are looking for efficient and effective loading dock systems. Whether you are upgrading, replacing, or repairing – or even starting from scratch – O’Brien has the expertise and equipment you need to get up and running fast. Contact us to consult on your project today!

Follow O’Brien on LinkedIn or Facebook.