Kelley dock shelters

Dock Seals vs Dock Shelters – What’s the Difference?

If you work in shipping and receiving or have anything to do with loading docks, you’ve likely heard the terms “dock seal” and “dock shelter” before. While they are both designed to seal the gap between a truck trailer and a loading dock door, there are some key differences between these two types of dock equipment.

A Dock Seal is Made of Fabric
A dock seal is a relatively simple piece of equipment made from a fabric-covered foam core or fabrics. It is installed around the exterior opening of a dock door. When a trailer backs up to the dock seal, the fabric wraps around the rear opening of the trailer to create a seal.

Dock seals are the more economical option compared to shelters. They help block out environmental elements like wind, precipitation, and pests from entering through the gaps around a trailer. However, they don’t create as tight and secure of a seal as a shelter.

A Dock Shelter is a Rigid Structure
Unlike the flexible fabric of seals, a dock shelter is constructed from aluminum or steel framing with fabric tops and sides. This rigid structure creates a vestibule that a trailer can back into securely. Rigid side panels and a sloped head frame allow the trailer to fit snugly and create a tight seal with less gaps.

Dock shelters provide superior sealing and environmental protection compared to basic seals. They are more expensive but offer advantages like tighter sealing, better access to the trailer interior, and protection for both the dock door and trailer.

Which is Right for Your Facility?
So which type of dock equipment makes the most sense for your loading bays – seals or shelters? It depends on factors like:
• Your facility’s needs for climate and pest control
• The types of trucks and trailers you need to accommodate
• Your maintenance and operating budget

For the highest level of environmental protection, security, and equipment longevity, a dock shelter is ideal. But if costs are a bigger consideration and you can accept some gaps and less interior access, a quality dock seal may meet your needs.

Many facilities use a mix of dock seals and shelters to equip different doors based on requirements. Carefully consider your priorities in terms of sealing, access, climate control, and budget to decide which dock equipment will work best.


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