Case Studies & Field Reports

Loading dock doors keep food safe, save energy

Processors may have picked all the low-hanging fruit in saving energy, but may have forgotten the obvious.
Though not a household name, Alatrade Foods produces wholesale poultry for supermarkets and other food outlets. Its Albertville, AL plant is a high-volume operation, and at this six-year-old, 55,000-sq.-ft. processing facility, maintenance plays a key role in keeping operations running efficiently. This is especially true when it comes to keeping overhead dock doors tightly sealed to retain costly cold-storage energy within the building. As a front line of defense against this potential energy loss, Alatrade installed nine TKO WelterWeight impactable dock doors.
“We are sending out product fresh. That means we must keep our dock at 45°F, and it must be washed down continuously to satisfy both USDA and our customers,” says Kevin Parnell, plant manager. 
One of Alatrade’s maintenance headaches was the overhead dock doors. As the shift got busier and busier, the dock became a slalom course with workers backing forklifts into the dock doors and door guides or shoving pallets into the door panels. 
Maintaining 45°F was a real challenge. Even with the doors closed, the doorway was not effectively sealed since all of the doors had suffered some kind of damage, from bent panels to deformed tracks. No matter how slight the damage, panels were misaligned, causing gaps between them and the doorframe, creating the perfect opportunity for energy loss. 
The TKO door has the ability to withstand these impacts, perform smoothly and seal the doorway completely and consistently, preventing damage and energy loss. Unlike standard dock doors, the TKO panels attach to retractable plungers that ride along a rugged 12-gauge steel V-Groove track. When the door is hit, the panel does not resist the force of the blow. Instead, the retractable plungers slide out of the track, and the door panel releases damage free. The panel can be reset into the guides quickly without having to call the maintenance crew.
A TKO representative conducted an energy-efficiency analysis using a thermal imaging camera, which revealed a lot of energy loss around the original doors and between the panels. After the new doors were installed, a follow-up thermal image audit showed a substantial increase in the energy efficiency of the dock. Two more TKO WelterWeight doors were installed in other areas of the building.
Alatrade has seen the benefits of installing the new dock doors, in their abilities to effectively seal the doorway and be easily cleaned and maintained. “The thermal images taken of the doors after installation,” says Parnell, “tell us that not only are we saving energy dollars, we are keeping the USDA happy as well.”
For more information: Stephanie Rogenski, 877-778-3625,

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