Kelley Vertical Levelers Give Glazier Foods a Platform for Growth
(Glazier Foods Company - Houston, TX) Back in 1936 C.R. “Bob” Glazier started his foodservice company with just $300 in his pocket. Today the Glazier Foods Company has 4,300 foodservice accounts throughout Texas and beyond. This major 3PL provider moves $400 million in frozen and other food products to independent and chain restaurants, schools, universities and healthcare institutions. To supply all these locations, the company has chosen Kelley® Vertical Dock Levelers for multiple reasons, including safe truck access, energy efficiency, protection of their dock doors and, of prime importance to Glazier, the ability to keep the dock area clean and free of debris.
In 2005, this growth led to Glazier Foods consolidating its office and central distribution warehousing operations to a new 208,000-square-foot building in northwest Houston. When they opened for business, the new site had 105,000 sq ft of space of dry food storage, 30,000 sq ft in the cooler area, 53,000 sq ft for frozen food storage and 20,000 sq ft for the corporate headquarters. The tract of land they chose is large enough for the food distribution operation now and well into the future.
The dock equipment enables Glazier to get the most out of this site. Unlike standard dock levelers, which are installed in a deep concrete pit, vertical dock levelers are installed along the edge of a continuous shelf that runs the full length of the loading dock. This shelf configuration simplifies architectural design and construction and is the easiest application to clean and maintain, which is a benefit Glazier embraced fully. “We use verticals,” says Glazier Vice President of Operations Bob Sarvis, “because by eliminating the pit, keeping the dock area clean is very easy.”
Having vertical levelers in their facility offers Glazier more energy efficiency and temperature control. Unlike traditional pit-mounted levelers, which often allow air to escape through the gaps around the perimeter of the leveler, a vertical leveler blocks air loss by enabling the dock door to be completely closed and sealed against the warehouse floor.
The levelers can allow trailer doors to swing into the facility, eliminating the need to open the doors before backing into position, and thus eliminating the risk of temperature fluctuation that results in spoilage.
In 2009, just after coming to the site, the company doubled both the dry and cold storage areas. Management rethought their choice of dock levelers, working with John Cadena and Bobby Griffin of The Miner Corporation in Houston to bring on the equipment they needed. Cadena immediately recognized that “Glazier is all about keeping the continuous shelf that runs along the dock absolutely clear of anything and securing as tight a doorway seal as possible to minimize energy loss.”
One of the problems they faced with their existing levelers was the use of conduit around the equipment. In the first phase of the facility, vertical levelers from a different manufacturer were used; and a major mistake was made, the installer did not embed the conduit under the concrete floor, leaving it exposed on the pit shelf and susceptible to damage as well as making it very difficult to keep the dock area clean and clear of debris.
The Kelley levelers, on the other hand, have a much cleaner installation, which Glazier appreciates, given their emphasis on cleanliness. Glazier likes the ability to mount the Kelley hydraulic pump and motor on a custom stanchion to the side of each leveler, creating a clean and streamlined setup. The hoses and conduit for the pump are run under the concrete, providing them with unobstructed access to the area around the leveler for easy cleaning.
Management throughout the supply chain is keenly concerned about cleanliness, which, as Sarvis puts it, “is a big issue for us.” He feels keeping the dock clean impacts the ability to deliver a safe product to the table and comply with food regulations. The tidy environment demonstrates to visiting customers that Glazier is a reliable source.
Glazier has an annual sanitation inspection, and they face a write up if they don’t have their areas clean. Thanks to the protection the levelers provide for the dock doors to provide an effective seal, the cleanliness of the installation and the ability of the Glazier crews to easily maintain the dock area, Glazier is confident they will not face a write up. In addition to their own annual sanitation inspection, Glazier has two or three of their customers that have their own inspectors regularly coming to the facility.
The levelers keep up with the pace of operation at Glazier. Along with the cylinder that powers platform deployment, a separate hydraulic cylinder controls lip positioning on the leveler for more efficient operation.
Moreover, according to Sarvis, “The levelers appear to be a whole lot stronger than what we had been using before, especially the beefier size of the shaft on the hydraulic units that deploy the levelers.”
During peak times of the year, Glazier fills up all of their dock positions with traffic, so each and every one of their levelers must be ready and able to operate during this two-shift operation. The strong construction of the Kelley Vertical Leveler ensures that the dock position is always available.
The levelers also protect the doors from damage caused by forklifts driving into them. From the crippling damage to the lowest panel that can shut down the doorway, to the less severe hits that can cause cracks between the door and the doorframe, the Kelley Vertical Leveler prevents Glazier from bleeding their budget slowly and surely through the loss of cold storage air.
To protect their dock equipment, the dock doorway includes an electric eye sensor. If the door is closed, the leveler will not operate, preventing damage to the door. The Kelley leveler also has a fused-disconnect on the control box should power need to be disconnected quickly.
Throughout its over 70 years in the foodservice business, the Glazier Foods Company has had an appetite for growth. Paying special attention to their dock equipment has enabled them to be not only a larger company, but a smarter one.