If you’ve ever seen a transport vehicle back up to a building, then you’ve probably seen a loading dock leveler. It’s an essential piece of equipment that makes it efficient to move goods and other equipment from the trailer bed onto the warehouse floor or vice versa. Loading areas that lack a leveler can be hazardous due to higher risks of injury and extended production time, making levelers an essential piece of equipment for most warehouses and commercial operations.
Understanding the Parts of Loading Dock Levelers
The main components of loading dock levelers are the deck, lip, push bar, and bumpers. They are mechanical devices that are adjustable and customization.
The lip of the loading dock leveler extends outward and onto the floor of the transport vehicle. It’s permanently affixed to the deck of the building. They usually consist of a tread pattern for greater safety during transport.
The Push Bar
Otherwise known as the activation system, the push bar is the mechanical arm that pushes the deck of the leveler into place. Depending on the type, it’s either powered by springs or an air bladder.
Probably the most important part of the loading dock leveler is the deck. Sometimes called the ramp, it’s the section that is driven over — whether a professional is using a forklift, pallet jack, or hand truck. The deck is also the part that attaches to the lip to allow for the safe and efficient passage of warehouse vehicles and equipment.
Although not technically part of the loading dock leveler itself, the bumpers add a crucial level of protection. They prevent the transport vehicle from running into the building and causing damage and injuries. They’re usually made of rubber and sit on the edge of each side of the loading dock.
The Most Popular Types of Loading Dock Levelers
The unique difference of hydraulic loading dock levelers is that they are specifically designed to handle high-capacity workloads. They also feature a velocity fuse which keeps the leveler from descending too quickly if the truck happens to pull away unexpectedly. Hydraulic systems are also regenerative and require less maintenance than other types.
Air-Powered Dock Levelers
As the name suggests, this type of leveler uses air bag lifting technology. The air bag is activated by a power button that causes the bag to inflate or deflate. These are ideal for atmospheres that experience extreme temperatures.
The most versatile is the mechanical leveler. It’s operated when a release chain is pulled, lifting the leveler into position. Professionals also appreciate the open frame design which makes for easy cleaning and maintenance.
What are Dock Locks?
Dock locks and vehicle restraints are important to worker safety and enhanced productivity. They prevent forklifts and other equipment from falling off the dock. The dock lock or vehicle restraint is mounted to the building and looks like a large hook. When the transport vehicle backs up to the building, the dock lock attaches to the rear guard. Most can restrain a vehicle with a pullout force of up to 30,000 lbs.