Stertil Stokvis has designed a special loading bay solution to help logistics giant DHL transport catering trolleys to and from aircraft at London’s Heathrow airport. The £500,000 project required the company to design a bespoke solution to improve the ease and efficiency of the operation which is undertaken at DHL’s Colnbrook facility near Slough.

The first challenge was accommodating the special vehicles used to transport the trolleys, which feature adjustable-height bodies and off-centre rear doors. To meet this requirement, Stertil Stokvis adapted the design of its S type dock levellers by incorporating a special 1,500mm-wide hinged lip on the dock leveller which is similarly off-set. Due to the small size of the trolley wheels, it was important that all transition platforms were smooth and any gaps between different surfaces were minimal.

Within the goods in section of the facility, the installation of eight S type dock levellers serve a specially-constructed mezzanine dock. A corresponding series of seven scissor lifts is then used to lower delivered catering trolleys down to ground level for washing and re-filling with new loads. Significantly, the construction of the equipment needed to be especially strong to withstand constant heavy use, so Stertil Stokvis decided to use extra-thick box section and sheeting on its scissor lift handrails.

The re-filled trolleys are then transported to the despatch area for onward delivery to Heathrow airport. At this stage in the cycle, Stertil Stokvis had to overcome problems caused by an existing dock height that is significantly lower than the bed height of DHL’s special vehicles. The novel solution is an installation of another 10 S type dock levellers that, again, incorporate off-set hinged lips but also feature 4,500mm long platforms which provide a shallow slope to simplify manual loading of the wheeled catering trolleys. The special ‘cross traffic support legs’ incorporated into the design of Stertil Stokvis dock levellers make this construction very stable and inherently safe.

“We needed a bespoke solution for our particular application,” explains Warren Cobb, DHL’s Deputy Vice President, Construction. “Following detailed evaluation of our requirements, Stertil Stokvis provided us with a working solution with free trial equipment and delivered everything they promised. Their flexible and partnering approach helped things run particularly smoothly.

The finished project saw nine scissor lifts, 18 hinge lip dock levellers, 20 inflatable dock seals, 20 insulated Thermadoors and five high-speed RapidRoll doors installed.