From food processing and cold storage facilities to distribution & logistics warehouses, pharmaceutical facilities and more, industrial facilities are constantly looking for ways to make workplace operations safer and more efficient. One key area to consider when making these improvements is the loading dock area: a dynamic, fast-paced, high-traffic environment where safety and efficiency are a must. To help consistently ensure better loading and unloading procedures, a high-performance dock leveler is essential. These pieces of equipment help to ensure a smooth, safe loading and unloading process at your facility.
But which type to choose? To help facility managers understand the considerations involved in choosing between a mechanical dock leveler and a hydraulic dock leveler, we’ve highlighted features and relevant considerations for each.
What type of loading dock levelers are there?
Regardless of type or model, a dock leveler acts as a bridge between the loading dock floor and the truck trailer to help ensure smooth, safe loading and unloading processes at your facility. Dock levelers should be built for strength and stability, with the capability to support extremely heavy loads of up to 80,000lbs. They should also be able to accommodate a wide range of truck heights and compensate for tilted trucks.
There are two main dock leveler types used in the vast majority of facilities:
Mechanical Dock Levelers
Mechanical dock levelers are the most common style and operate by means of a release chain. The operator engages the lift spring by pulling the chain. The deck then rises up and extends into its locked position. From there, the operator simply “walks” the deck down into place in order for the loading or unloading to begin. Because they function without electricity, mechanical dock levelers are a more economical option for lower-volume facilities. Although mechanical dock levelers have a cheaper upfront cost, they can run up a higher bill in overall long-term maintenance.
Hydraulic Dock Levelers
Hydraulic dock levelers are easy to operate, seamless and controllable with a push-button device for convenient operation. This makes them ideal in high-traffic facilities that handle frequent, large-quantity deliveries. When compared with mechanical dock levelers, hydraulic dock levelers can be safer, simpler and more accommodating for higher load capacities, all the while being more ergonomic-friendly. For a low-maintenance and efficient loading dock leveler, a hydraulic system is your best option. That said, they are more expensive upfront and require electrical components.
Lenworth carries hydraulic and mechanical models
We carry both mechanical and hydraulic dock levelers that are engineered to provide support and stability that employees and facility managers can count on for years to come. And while both types of dock levelers are manufactured in the GTA according to the highest standards, each carries certain features that make them better suited in different applications.
Important factors to consider when choosing a dock leveler for your facility
Due to safety and productivity considerations, there are several factors to consider when choosing the most suitable dock leveler for your facility’s needs.
1. Volume of dock usage
The frequency with which a dock leveler is used can greatly inform a facility manager’s decision. If the dock leveler is used frequently throughout the day and the facility manager values the speed of cycle completion, a hydraulic dock leveler is a natural choice for its time-saving benefits. If the dock leveler is an auxiliary technology that supports operations but is not crucial to day-to-day work, a mechanical leveler works as an economical option.
2. Load capacities
It’s imperative that the dock leveler selected is the optimal fit for the loading dock area. Facility managers must consider their full capacity needs in conjunction with the frequency of dock usage when making their decision. Higher capacity loads require more force and a bulkier piece of equipment so heavier products such as steel, liquids, or paper rolls would be better suited for hydraulic docks. Conversely, lighter products such as packaging, food products, or clothing would be better suited for mechanical docks.
Mechanical levelers are usually the most budget-friendly options. That said, they may not operate as effectively in environments where fast cycle times and high productivity are essential. If your facility is of medium to high-traffic with heavy-weight freight often transferring in and out, hydraulic dock levelers are well worth the investment. These are more efficient dock levelers that could save you valuable time and money by increasing productivity. To better allocate your budget, it’s recommended that facility managers conduct a formal analysis to determine whether long-term costs are worth upfront savings.
A hydraulic dock leveler requires less maintenance than a mechanical leveler as it consists of only three main parts: The power pack, the deck cylinder, and the lip cylinder. These components require little maintenance and can withstand high cycle use. A mechanical leveler uses small moving parts that must withstand thousands of pounds of weight and pressure on a regular basis. These parts need to be maintained or replaced throughout the year.
Have your dock leveler installed and serviced by a dedicated service team
Alongside the above factors, proper installation and ease of maintenance matter a great deal when replacing or retrofitting any dock leveler. When you work with Lenworth, you’re choosing a company that takes pride in the both quality of our dock leveler products and our ability to install, service and maintain these products to ensure long-term quality and performance for our clients. Regardless of whether you go with a mechanical or a hydraulic dock leveler, the following features hold true for all our products:
Large selection and variation of dock levelers
Strong relationships with manufacturers & suppliers
Industry-leading strength ratio with high tensile steel
Assured motion float for full-width contact
Locally manufactured in the GTA
Our commitment to ensuring our clients get the most out of their dock levelers doesn’t end with the purchase of the product itself. After the initial inquiry, one of our representatives will tour a facility to gain a complete understanding of its unique needs and which type of dock leveler would be most beneficial. Following a purchase, all of our clients have the opportunity to join our Preferred Service Program (PSP).
What is the Preferred Service Program?
The PSP is a membership program that facility managers can join in to ensure their facilities are operating at maximum efficiency, and to maintain facility equipment that is safe & reliable. It’s a preventative maintenance service that mitigates facility risk, prevents accidents and boosts productivity. There are a number of things our Preferred Service Customers can take advantage of when they join the program. These include:
Exclusive discounts on parts
Routine facility inspections
Guaranteed 4-hour response time
Fixed labour costs for one year
When it comes to your loading dock leveler(s), go with an industry leader.
At Lenworth, we’re committed to doing things right and providing our customers and clients with the best services possible no matter the situation. If you still have outstanding questions and prefer a one-on-one inspection of your facility needs before making a final decision, we are here to help. Book a free consultation with an experienced Lenworth representative today!
In order for us to better accommodate you during this time, call ahead to book a showroom visit with one of our representatives and see our lineup of high-quality products including Dock Levelers (Hydraulic and Mechanical), Seals and Shelters, High-Speed Doors, HVLS Fans, Truck Restraints, Aftermarket Accessories and more for yourself.
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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