How to Successfully Fight the Second Law of Thermodynamics’ Effects (a.k.a. “wear and tear”) on New Dock Seals & Shelters

Loading dock seals and shelters are often viewed as the unsung heroes of warehouses and distribution centers (DCs). Perhaps at times, they’re even taken for granted considering the punishment they endure day in and day out.

For example, a loading dock operation with 24 receiving doors that handles 100 trailers every day — even with brand new dock seals and shelters — will begin to show visible signs of wear and tear in as few as 60 days.

In addition to being subjected to the outdoor elements 24/7/365, trailer air ride suspensions, sharp edges on the back of trailers and the varying heights of trailer equipment are all sources of ongoing dock seal and shelter wear and tear.

After enough time goes by, seals and shelters can start to break down from rips and tears. Seams will begin pulling apart. Guide stripes that are sewn in (instead of welded or heat sealed for longer lasting wear) will begin to separate from the fabric. And wear pleats curl up on the dock seal or are torn off completely. Given the vital benefits seals and shelters provide — from keeping out the elements and employees safe, to helping manage your energy costs — the condition of your seals and shelters is not something you want to ignore.

Worn out traditional dock seal fabricWear and tear: a natural law of physics

Just drive by any neglected warehouse or DC loading dock, and you’ll clearly see first-hand the dramatic effects of wear and tear in action.

In the science of physics, the wear and tear phenomenon is a reflection of what is known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law essentially states that objects will stray from their original form and function over time unless energy from an external force is used to maintain them.

Loading docks with damaged and neglected seals and shelters are not only a poor reflection on your company or business, they also convey a negative message to your dock personnel. Bottom line, brute abrasive force is what it is. Without the right type of product in place, you can expect that your seals and shelters will wear out prematurely.

You wouldn’t neglect your new car, would you?

If you’ve ever purchased a shiny automobile fresh off of the assembly line, you’ve probably taken a few minutes to study your warranty (at least you should have!). In the process, you became somewhat familiar with which pieces and parts of your beloved new car that are covered, and which ones aren’t.

Parts that aren’t covered are those that the auto manufacturer expects you as the consumer to maintain due to “normal wear and tear.” They include windshield washer blades, the air filter, spark plugs and wires, and the list can go on and on. Wear and tear is essentially damage that inevitably occurs as the result of the normal or natural aging process. So if you value your new car and plan to keep it for any length of time, you’ll probably do your best to outfit it with the best replacement parts possible to get the highest return on your investment.

Building a new warehouse or DC? Expanding an existing facility? Don’t fall into the trap of installing cheaply constructed seals and shelters. Because if you do, you’ll eventually pay for that decision later.

The answer is high abrasion resistance

Without question, dock seals and shelters are an important long-term investment for your warehouse facility or DC. They not only protect vital assets that are being loaded into or unloaded from trailers, they’re vital components of your operation that help to ensure the safety of your personnel and assist in keeping your energy expense within reason.

To ensure that you gain the maximum amount of life out of a new dock seal and shelter investment, it’s imperative that the material they’re made out of can withstand the daily rigors of activity at your docks. Higher end seal and shelter products not only seal docks better, they’re manufactured with materials that will last a long, long time.

However, since wear and tear is inevitable at the dock (again, we can thank the Second Law of Thermodynamics), the answer to everyone’s troubles is high abrasion resistance.

Kelley SHARC high abrasion resistant dock seal fabric

Kelley HC Dock Seal with standard High Abrasion resistant fabric

40,000 abrasion resistance cycles is well … HUGE!

Kelley’s newest seal and shelter products now feature what we call SHARC, which stands for Super High Abrasion Resistance Compound. Providing up to 10 times the abrasion resistance of the leading seal or shelter fabrics tested, SHARC withstood more than 40,000 cycles of abrasion resistance testing.

All of the Kelley SHARC seal and shelter test results are certified by a qualified, listed testing laboratory using official standard test methods that include Tear Strength (ASTM D-3776), a tongue tear test that measures lbs. of pounds per inch required to tear coated fabric, and Abrasion Resistance (ASTM D-3884), which measures the number of cycles to exposure of top yarns of base fabric using tabor method with H-18 wheel and a 1,000-gram load.

In addition, Kelley SHARC fabric has been subjected to Cold Test (ASTM D-2136 or D-751-00) which tests resistance to failure caused by extreme cold temperatures (-40 degrees F), as well as an Adhesion Test that measures the amount of weight in lbs. required to pull off fabric coating from the base fabric on a 2-inch wide sample.

10 times better than the competition

We’re extremely pleased with how well the Kelley SHARC seal and shelter fabric performed under such rigid laboratory testing conditions. Initial product testing with a large foodservice distributor (a long-term Entrematic customer that handles a large volume of trailer activity) proved so effective that SHARC became the material used in all replacement dock seals going forward.

In fact, they were the first to test our dock seals with SHARC fabric in a real-world loading dock environment. On top of that, a 125-unit order is now underway with one of the nation’s largest retailers, proving even further the high level of confidence in the new SHARC fabric’s benefits.

Those are just a few of the reasons why we’re so excited and proud to share with our customers and distributors the fact that SHARC has 10 times the abrasion resistance than the leading fabrics that were tested.

So don’t let the Second Law of Thermodynamics get in the way of your warehouse or DC’s performance at the dock. To find out more about our newest Kelley dock seals and shelters featuring SHARC fabric, visit our website at Kelley Seals & Shelters.  We also invite you to experience Kelley In Person for an up close look at all that Kelley dock seal and shelter products with SHARC have to offer.