One problem to overcome with loading docks is bridging the gap between the open end of the truck bed and the warehouse floor. This causes a problem because not all warehouse floors are the same height from the outside pavement, and the truck beds are not always the same height either. The truck can only back up so close to the dock, leaving a gap, which also has a height differential. Dock boards, dock levelers, and dock plates are all devices that can be used to bridge this gap.
Dock levelers are typically permanent devices that are secured to the dock door, whereas dock plates and boards are considered portable and are not secured to the door. A dock leveler consists of a metal plate that is raised from a stored position and then lowered onto the back of the truck. Some dock levelers are manual, using a pull chain to raise and lower, but are most commonly hydraulic with an electric pump driving a piston to lift the plate.
Dock levelers are more expensive than dock plates and dock boards, and are suitable for motorized lift equipment like forklifts. They have a limited range of angles, so they must be used on standard dock and truck heights. The larger the height differential between the loading dock and the truck bed, the longer the dock board needs to be. Forklifts can only handle a 7-8 inch height differential over a 6 foot long leveler.
Dock plates and dock boards are very similar in appearance, but dock boards have a much higher weight capacity and side rails. The side rails is typically what gives away that it is a dock board, and also means that it is safe to use with motorized lift equipment. Dock plates have a much lower weight capacity and no side rails, so they can only be used with carts, dollies, and manual operations.
Dock plates are most often made of aluminum, whereas dock boards are made out of steel, and they both feature a diamond patter surface. This helps prevents wheel slips and human error while walking up or down an incline. Both dock plates and dock boards are portable, but dock plates are significantly lighter and easier to do so. Dock levelers are installed into the actual dock for more permanent operations.
Still need some help choosing the right dock equipment? American Surplus’s dedicated team of sales people will gladly work with you to determine which piece of dock equipment is most appropriate for your application. We provide material handling solutions to our customers, and have been doing so for over 20 years.