5 Things to Look for in Your Next Dock Leveler


Any business that ships and delivers products at a high-volume knows the importance of an efficient delivery system, which means having a proper dock leveler is critical to their success. Ensure your success by using following tips for choosing the right leveler.

1. Pick A Dock Leveler Type That Suits Your Needs (Hydraulic, Mechanical, Air-Powered)

All three dock leveler types serve the overall safety and productivity of your business. As each design is different, It’s a matter of choosing one that fits your needs depending upon their applications.

Hydraulic dock levelers

Hydraulic dock levelers are built for frequent, large quantity deliveries. Forklift operators will feel safe knowing that the hydraulic dock operates using velocity fuse free-float protection, creating a smooth platform between the leveler platform and lip to prevent ‘stump-out.’

The hydraulic technology is low-maintenance and fully automatic using a simple push-button operating system. Its design provides ergonomic benefits by no longer needing to bend continuously to pull a chain connecting the truck bed to the dock.

Mechanical dock levelers

Mechanical dock levelers function without electricity making them an economical option. They use springs to adjust to the height of the truck bed and mechanical safety legs to prevent them from bending too far when there is a sizable amount of pressure. However, the mechanical safety legs often cause ‘stump-out’ so it’s not the safest option for forklifts.

Air-powered levelers

Air-powered levelers are often push-button operated and use an inflatable air bag to adjust their height. Much like the mechanical dock leveler, they’re rigged with safety legs and shares the same amount of risk as the mechanical leveler for ‘stump-out’.

Debris with sharp edges that fall near the air bag carriage can puncture it and will be expensive to fix and may cause an injury. Heavy maintenance and cleaning are required.

2. Calculate The Maximum Capacity You Need To Support

A leveler’s capacity (load, dynamic capacity, rollover capacity, etc.) must withstand the gross weight of your material handling equipment to limit the amount of maintenance and safety hazards. These are some things to consider when determining the correct capacity:

-Forecast the number of trucks and loads that will use your dock, which can significantly affect its life expectancy.

-Determine your ramp’s angle as a large angle must absorb a greater impact.

-Add the weight of your heaviest capacity lift truck and the heaviest load to get the total gross weight. Multiply the total gross weight by three to take into consideration the motion of the forklift.

To find out the weight you’ll be handling, use the following calculation:

{(Weight of the Heaviest Capacity Lift Truck) + (Heaviest Load)} x 2.5 = Dock Leveler Load Requirement

3. Assess The Size Of Your Dock

High capacity trailers are increasingly popular and have a lower bed (6”-18”) to carry bigger loads. Add-in that air-ride suspension and low-profile tires which are becoming the industry standard, and it can cause a considerable gap between the dock and trailer bed. Longer levelers can safely and efficiently accommodate a wider range of truck bed heights to avoid a steep incline.

4. Protect Your Dock With Proper Bumpers

Using the right dock loading bumpers protect the impact of reversing trucks that can cause structural damage to a dock. A standard bumper’s thickness is approximately 4”-4.5”, but consider ones that are 5” for additional reinforcement in heavier traffic areas.

If servicing trailers of various heights, ensure your bumpers aren’t too low. Air-ride trailers release air from their suspension system, which lowers the height of the trailer and may damage the bumper. Higher trailers require raised bumper brackets to protect your bumper and create a safe platform.

5. The Dock Leveler Beam Construction Should Reflect Your Needs

The weight and frequency of use of a dock leveler are essential in knowing which one fits your needs. A box beam is ideal for infrequent use. It’s hollow and over time the welds can snap and have a faster wear down on the beams. Repetitive, high-volume loads should use an i-beam construction as it reinforces the dock leveler by laying across the bottom – worth the investment and peace of mind.

We Can Help Getting You The Right Dock Leveler

Still sitting on the fence debating what your needs are and how much to invest in a dock leveler? Call us or fill out our contact form and we’ll be happy to walk you through the steps.

As the VP of Sales & Marketing, Spencer is an energetic and company-oriented manager that places an emphasis on continuous organizational improvement. Spencer's acute focus on building a customer-centric business drives his team to consistently go above and beyond customers' expectations. At Lenworth, Spencer places the customer as the focal point of all decisions.

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