Dock Levelers vs. Yard Ramps: Which is Right for You?

Depending on the size of your warehouse and what types of trucks you’re dealing with, you may need dock levelers, yard ramps, or, in some rare occasions, both. These two pieces of equipment have their uses, and the savvy warehouse manager is going to make use of them in the appropriate situations.

Let’s take a look at what dock levelers and yard ramps do and when you’d want to use them.

Yard Ramps

Yard ramps are movable ramps that can be attached to the back of a truck or a railroad car. The top lip of the ramp sits on the back of the vehicle, creating a seamless ramp for forklifts. This makes it much easier to load and offload cargo.

By sitting on the back of the vehicle, the weight is actually on the vehicle’s suspension, not on the ramp. This means that these yard ramps can be made of lighter material that makes them easier to move. When heavy products are needed out in the field, a yard ramp can be quickly set up so they can be moved quickly and easily. Some even have tire or tow attachments so they can be moved with no effort at all.

For those warehouses that don’t actually have loading docks or only have one dock, but often need to unload multiple trucks at once, a permanent yard ramp can be set up. This way, there’s no need to move a yard ramp every time a truck comes in to unload. These permanent ramps are also stronger. While they don’t attach to the vehicle’s bed, they do have more durable legs to take the weight.

Dock Levelers

A dock leveler, on the other hand, is used with a loading dock. No matter how well designed and constructed, almost every loading dock has a small gap between it and the truck. In some cases, these gaps are very small and probably wouldn’t cause accidents, but in other cases, they’re large enough that a forklift can’t drive over them or that a person could fall through them. A dock leveler is used to fill in this gap. These levelers can be raised or lowered to create a ramp between the truck and the loading dock, preventing injuries and accidents.

Most dock levelers are built from heavy-duty steel because, unlike yard ramps, they take most of the weight of whatever is walking across them. Many of these levelers have hydraulic systems that raise or lower them.

Which is Right for You?

Does your warehouse need yard ramps or dock levelers? In most cases, warehouses are going to need dock levelers since they usually load and unload trucks at a loading dock. However, smaller warehouses or those that rely on outdoor storage may need yard ramps, too. There’s no reason why a warehouse can’t have both, especially if they have many trucks unloading at once. Yard ramps can serve as a substitute for a loading dock in a pinch. Either way, both of these items make loading/unloading much faster and easier, plus they prevent accidents.

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