Case Studies  |  Energy Saving & Safety Products

Portable Dock Plate vs. Dock Leveler: What’s the Difference?

dock plate

Loading dock products are designed to make the dock a safe and efficient place, and many different products help serve this purpose. One thing we at Beuschel Sales have noticed is that people sometimes think the terms portable dock plate and dock leveler are interchangeable. They are not the same products at all and do different jobs. In this blog we will define what a portable dock plate is and compare what it does with how a dock leveler performs. 

What Is a Portable Dock Plate?

A portable dock plate is a piece of equipment, usually made of aluminum, that is designed to bridge the gap between the trailer and the loading dock. That sounds similar to a dock leveler, but portable dock plates are much more lightweight and portable. They can be picked up and carried from location to location, which means that they are really only suitable for lighter loads and for use with manual equipment like dollies, pallet jacks, and trolley carts. 

Portable dock plates are a much more basic piece of equipment without many safety features. They have locking legs to prevent shifting during use, as well as a yellow painted border that serves as a heads up that the plate is in place, but that is all. There is no physical barrier to prevent a worker falling off. 

What Is a Dock Leveler? 

A dock leveler is a permanent piece of equipment that is installed on the loading dock bay, either mounted to the face of the dock or recessed into a pit at the dock door. When a trailer backs up to the loading dock, the loading dock workers put the dock leveler into position so that it can bridge that gap and allow workers to maneuver industrial vehicles between the building and the truck. It provides a smooth transition for all vehicles, either manual or heavy equipment. 

There are many types of dock levelers, including the most commonly used mechanical, air, and hydraulic pit levelers. These are often used in combination with other safety equipment like lights, vehicle restraint systems, and communication systems to increase worker safety. 

Both a portable dock plate and a dock leveler provide a surface that will allow workers to transport items in and out of the trailer, but only a dock leveler is designed to handle heavy loads and equipment. Portable dock plates should only be used as a portable option for smaller, lighter loads and not as a primary dock loading tool. A dock leveler, when installed and used correctly, will increase safety, efficiency, and productivity. 

If your company needs more information about dock levelers or portable dock plates, Beuschel Sales would be happy to meet with you and look over your loading dock. We will make recommendations so you can choose the best loading dock equipment for your needs. 

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