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As the winds of economic opportunity continue to shift and change in the raw materials supply market, it is more important than ever for manufacturers to voluntarily self-regulate and to embrace standards initiatives. The vital role that standards play to ensure product integrity and end user safety cannot be understated. Specifically in the arena of equipment manufacturing using steel or steel alloy, the past few years has seen the heretofore stable supply of domestic raw material become variable beyond imagination. No longer can these manufactures rely on US Steel or Inland Steel’s materials of sound reputation and credibility. Instead, companies must increasingly acquire their heavy gauge floor plate from myriad international import sources, sources whose adherence to international regulations may or may not be consistent from shipment to shipment. In other words, manufacturers do not know with dependable certainty what foreign steel mills are doing with their metals. Unregulated blending of alloys and fillers can reduce capacity, compromise strength and alter performance. As a result, the manufacturer’s products, through no fault in the manufacturing process, may be variable and inconsistent in their performance integrity and ultimately may pose risks to the safety of the end user.

The time has come for American manufacturers to step up to the safety bar and to embrace self regulation through development and implementation of on site standards testing. They must guarantee reproducibility of performance, product to product and protect themselves and our end users against the vulnerability in raw material variance. Doing so will allow each manufacturer to actively confirm that the products which bear their names are indeed worthy of doing so. Bluff Manufacturing has taken this challenge seriously and is actively testing all of its aluminum and steel dock plates and boards. While Bluff’s first goal as a business is to manufacture high quality products for the material handling industry, the safety of its products and of the end user is a paramount priority in our corporate responsibility as an industry leader. So much so that Bluff spearheaded the development of this standard ANSI MH30.2 in conjunction with Material Handling Industry of America’s (MHIA) Loading Dock Equipment Manufacturers (LODEM) group. This initiative specifically outlines mechanical and structural design guidelines along with usage, operation and maintenance standards. To date, Bluff Manufacturing is the only portable dock and warehouse equipment manufacturer who actively uses this ANSI standard to ensure the safety of its product and to empower customers to make risk-reducing buying decisions.

The importance of product safety simply cannot be understated. The “No Harm, No Foul” approach is plainly unacceptable when personnel safety is potentially at risk. You as a distributor can leverage yourself and your sales volume by actively showing that you not only understand the need for safety but, more importantly, that you align yourself with a manufacturer who puts this value into practice each day. Your alliance with a forward thinking, safety-conscious manufacturer gives you a unique and marketable competitive advantage. Bluff’s unwavering commitment to product safety translates into product differentiation and value added for your sales. By selecting Bluff as your manufacturer of choice, you put your sales figures and your sales integrity above your competitors.

So as that fork lift operator starts driving his load over that dock board or rail board or dock plate, take a moment to ask yourself…What is your responsibility as a distributor of portable dock and warehouse equipment? Are your boards and plates truly safe? Or are you and your company at full risk exposure because perhaps the manufacturer of that equipment that you sold or that you are using simply assumed that the steel had a low alloy content, took for granted that the foreign raw materials passed international standards or accepted performance integrity as a given? While there is no specific mechanism for risk analysis per se by the distributor or end user, there IS a way to actively minimize your risk, to decrease your exposure and to ensure the safety of your equipment: rely on a manufacturer who ensures risk reduction by actively testing the products against the highest possible industry standard. Rely on Bluff Manufacturing.