Loading Dock Equipment Overview

Loading docks are the first and last contact at any facility. It’s the place where supplies first arrive and the place from where shipments leave. With today‚Äôs modern, fast-paced loading docks, selecting and properly installing the best leveler for the job plays a major role in safety and productivity. Creating safe and efficient bridges between facilities and the trucks and trailers that pull up to them is no easy task. With so many different kinds of dock levelers available today, in such a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and mounting styles, choosing the right one can be more complicated than ever. The reason there are so many choices in dock levelers is that there is such a huge variety of freight, vehicles, frequency of use, and loading conditions. These different operations place different demands on a dock leveler, so it is important to make sure that the leveler you recommend matches the individual requirements.

Use considerations
The first thing to consider is where and how the dock leveler will be used. Is it a replacement, a retrofit, or new construction? What types and variations of vehicles will be unloading and loading? What are the space limitations? Are environmental control and security prime considerations? Oftentimes budget or space restrictions may unduly influence the decisions. This is where bringing in a dock professional can help the most.

  • Capacity
    Leveler capacity simply means that the selected leveler has the structural strength to handle the weight, speed, and frequency of use of the material handling equipment.
  • Length
    Material handling equipment used for loading and off loading has grade operating limitations, so it is important to consider this when determining the right length of dock leveler.
  • Costs
    Units range in price from under a thousand dollars for edge-of-dock levelers to several thousand for large-capacity hydraulic levelers.
  • Additional Factors
    The dock leveler makes up only one piece of a loading dock. Consideration must also be given to dock safety, communications, operator environment, and energy conservation. In a busy shipping area, there can be up to 100 opportunities a day, per single loading dock, for serious mishaps to occur. A combination of signal lights, controls, and signage advises both vehicle drivers and dock attendants of safe / unsafe and park / depart conditions.

Types of dock levelers

  • Edge-of-dock
    These levelers are mounted to the outside of the face of the loading dock. As such, they’re the most economical and typically the easiest levelers to install. Their drawback is limited size and weight capacities.
  • Pit-style
    These docks offer greater capacities and options to suit more demanding cross-docking applications. Because of more space above and below the leveler, pit-mounted levelers typically have greater working and service ranges and adaptability over edge-of-dock levelers.
  • Vertical-storing
    This type is recommended most for food and other applications where temperature control is a concern. They’re better at keeping the elements and pests out and the temperature in.