US 20050102929 A1
At a loading dock for a truck, a compressible bumper seal extends across the front face of a dock bumper to help seal an air gap that may otherwise exist between the bumper face and the rear of the truck. Without the seal, the gap may be created by the truck stopping just short of reaching the bumper or by the truck “bouncing off” the bumper before stopping. If left unsealed, such a gap can create a draft into a building that has the loading dock.
1. A bumper assembly for use at a loading dock for receiving an impact from a vehicle moving in a rearward direction, comprising:
a bumper installed at the loading dock and including a front face that faces away from the rearward direction, wherein the bumper is compressible to at least partially absorb the impact; and
a bumper seal extending across the front face of the bumper and being adapted to be engaged by the vehicle, wherein the bumper seal is more compressible than the bumper.
2. The bumper assembly of
3. The bumper assembly of
4. The bumper assembly of
5. The bumper assembly of
6. The bumper assembly of
7. The bumper assembly of
8. The bumper assembly of
9. The bumper assembly of
10. The bumper assembly of
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12. The bumper assembly of
13. The bumper assembly of
14. A bumper seal for sealing a gap between a front face of a bumper and a rear surface of a vehicle, wherein the bumper is installed at a loading dock and the front face is adapted to receive an impact created by the vehicle, the bumper seal comprising:
a rear section extending across the front face of the bumper and being adapted to engage the front face of the bumper;
a front section connected to the rear section and adapted to be engaged by the rear surface of the vehicle; and
a central section interposed between the front section and the rear section, wherein the central section is more compressible than the bumper.
15. The bumper seal of
16. The bumper seal of
17. The bumper seal of
18. The bumper assembly of
19. The bumper assembly of
20. The bumper assembly of
21. The bumper seal of
22. The bumper seal of
23. The bumper seal of
24. The bumper seal of
25. The bumper seal of
26. A method of at least partially sealing a gap between a front face of a compressible bumper and a rear surface of a vehicle, comprising:
installing a bumper seal so that the bumper seal overlays the front face of the compressible bumper; and
compressing the bumper seal between the front face of the compressible bumper and the rear surface of the vehicle.
27. The method of
28. The method of
29. A sealing assembly for use at a doorway of a loading dock for a vehicle, the sealing assembly comprising:
a side seal disposed along a lateral edge of the doorway;
a bumper having a front face for receiving an impact of the vehicle, wherein the bumper is spaced apart from the side seal to define a gap therebetween; and
a side-sealing member bridging the gap by engaging the bumper and the side seal.
30. The sealing assembly of
31. The sealing assembly of
32. The sealing assembly of
33. The sealing assembly of
1. Field of the Invention
The subject invention generally pertains to loading docks, and more specifically to a device that helps seal an air gap that may exist between a rear surface of a vehicle and the front face of a bumper that is attached to the dock.
2. Description of Related Art
A typical loading dock of a building includes an exterior doorway with an elevated platform for loading and unloading vehicles, such as trucks and trailers. To compensate for height differences between the loading dock platform and an adjacent bed of a truck or trailer, many loading docks have a dock leveler. A typical dock leveler includes a deck, also known as a ramp or dockboard, which is pivotally hinged along its back edge to vary the height of its front edge. An extension plate, or lip, extends outward from the deck's front edge to span the gap between the rear of the truck bed and the front edge of the deck. The lip is usually moveable between a stored position to an extended, operative position. In the extended, operative position, the lip extends from the deck's front edge and rests upon the truck bed to form a bridge between the two. This allows personnel and material handling equipment to readily move on and off the vehicle during loading and unloading operations.
To protect the building and the dock leveler from direct vehicle impact, loading docks often include bumpers. Bumpers also help establish a predetermined minimum distance between the rear of the vehicle and the dock leveler, so the dock leveler can first raise and then lower its lip upon the rear of the vehicle. Bumpers are usually installed near the bottom of the doorway, adjacent either side of the dock leveler lip and protrude a few inches out from the face of the dock, where they can be abutted by the rear of the vehicle.
To help block out rain, snow and outside air from entering the building through air gaps between the back of the vehicle and the exterior face of the building, usually either a dock seal or a dock shelter is installed around the perimeter of the doorway.
Dock shelters often have projecting members that protrude outwardly from the face of the building and run generally along the top and lateral sides of the doorway. From a protruding edge of the projecting members, a top extending member and two laterally extending members may extend inward and generally parallel to the building face to help seal against the truck's top and sides, respectively. The laterally extending members are often made of a fabric or flexible foam. Two inner bottom corners of the dock shelter at the lower back sides of the truck are often partially sealed by draft pads attached to the lower ends of the projecting members. The dock leveler lip resting upon the rear of the vehicle is often relied upon to seal most of the doorway's lower edge.
Typical dock seals comprise a resiliently compressible foam core protected by a fabric outer cover. They are usually mounted to the face of a building, along the top and both sides of the doorway. With dock seals, sealing is provided by backing the truck directly up against the seal. The seal then compressively conforms to the shape of the truck's rear edges. The foam core provides the necessary compliance and resilience to repeatedly conform to the shape of various trucks, while the outer cover protects the foam core from dirt, water and abrasion. As with dock shelters, dock seals also rely on the dock leveler lip to seal most of the doorway's lower edge.
With conventional dock seals and shelters, an air gap may still exist between the rear of the vehicle and the front face of the bumpers. This can occur when a vehicle backing into the dock “bounces off” the bumpers or simply stops just short of reaching the bumpers. Such an air gap can be a few inches across and can allow a significant air draft into the building.
A gap can also exist between a bumper and the underside of a dock shelter or the underside of a dock seal. For dock seals, such a gap may be due horizontal or vertical displacement between the bumper and the portion of the dock seal that runs along the vertical edge of the doorway. For dock shelters, the gap can be due to horizontal or vertical displacement between the bumper and dock shelter's draft pad.
In some embodiments, a relatively soft bumper seal overlays the front face of loading dock bumper.
In some embodiments, the bumper seal includes a foam core that is softer or more compressible than the bumper.
In some embodiments, the foam core is at least partially covered by a pliable, weather resistant cover.
In some embodiments, the weather resistant cover is protected by a tough slipcover that can be replaced when necessary.
In some embodiments, the slipcover is stiffer than the weather resistant cover.
In some embodiments, a structure of flexible sheets provides a collapsible bumper seal that overlays the front face of a loading dock bumper.
In some embodiments, the flexible sheets comprise a plurality of tubes.
In some embodiments, the bumper seal is mounted adjacent to the bumper.
In some embodiments, the bumper seal is attached to a vertical face of a loading dock.
In some embodiments, the bumper seal is attached directly to the bumper.
In some embodiments, the bumper seal comprises a face-sealing member and a side-sealing member, wherein the face-sealing member seals a gap between the bumper and the rear of a vehicle, and the side-sealing member seals a gap between the bumper and a lower portion of a dock seal or a dock shelter's draft pad.
In some embodiments of bumper seal that include a compressible or collapsible core with a weather resistant cover and a semi-rigid slipcover over that, a protective semi-rigid sheet of material is inserted between the slipcover and the core to help evenly distribute vehicle-imparted forces across the core.
To protect building 14 and dock leveler 20 from direct vehicle impact, loading dock 10 is provided with one or more shock-absorbing bumpers 24 that protrude about four to six inches out from a face 26 of the dock. Bumpers 24 also help establish a predetermined minimum distance between the vehicle's back edge 28 and the front of dock leveler 20, so dock leveler 20 can first lift and then lower lip 22 upon the bed of vehicle 16. Bumpers 24 can be installed near the bottom of doorway 12, adjacent either side of dock leveler lip 22, where the bumpers can be abutted by the rear of vehicle 16. Alternatively, bumpers 24 can be attached or coupled to dock leveler 20 and in some cases may even be movable between retracted and operative positions.
To help block out rain, snow and outside air from entering building 14 through air gaps between the exterior face of building 14 and the upper and two side edges along the rear of vehicle 16, a dock seal 30 may be installed along the perimeter of doorway 12. For example, dock seal 30 includes two vertical side pads 32 and a head pad 34, which compressively conform to the shape of a vehicle's rear edges as the vehicle backs up against pads 32 and 34. It should be appreciated, however, that the use of a dock shelter instead of a dock seal is also well within the scope of the invention. Regardless of whether a dock shelter or dock seal is used, lip 22 extending out over the bed of truck 16 can be used to help cover the gap adjacent the rear lower edge of vehicle 16. In cases where a loading dock does not have a dock leveler, a lower pad may be installed along the lower edge of the doorway to help seal gaps in that area. The subject invention does not have to be used in combination with a dock leveler.
Sometimes, vehicle 16 may stop without its rear edge 28 tightly up against a front face 34 of the bumpers. For instance, vehicle 16 may “bounce off” the bumpers before actually stopping. This can create an air gap between the vehicle's rear edge 28 and the front face of the bumpers.
To help seal such an air gap, a bumper seal 36 having a compressible or collapsible face-sealing member 38 can be installed in front of the bumpers, as shown in
To mount face-sealing member 38, seal 36 can be constructed as shown in
To help protect core 40 from dirt and weather, or to help hold various parts of core 40 together, core 40 can be at least partially covered by a weather resistant cover 52, as shown in
To help protect cover 52 from being cut, excessively worn or otherwise damaged by the impact of vehicle 16, a tough slipcover 54 extends over areas of cover 52 that are most susceptible to damage. Slipcover 54 can be made of PVC or a similar material that is tougher and less pliable than cover 52. In some embodiments, slipcover 54 is made of a polyethylene, cross-linked, closed-cell foam that is formed, compressed and heated to provide a desired density and rigidity. In some cases, the rigidity of slipcover 52 may vary, with certain areas of slipcover 52 being more rigid than others. For example, front section 37 may be more rigid than other areas to help evenly distribute the compressive forces that vehicle 16 may exert against core 40. Preferably, slipcover 54 is readily replaceable by wrapping the slipcover around core 40 and cover 52, as shown in
Alternate, but similar, embodiments of a bumper seal are shown in
In another embodiment, shown in
Although the invention is described with respect to a preferred embodiment, modifications thereto will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the scope of the invention is to be determined by reference to the claims, which follow.