If you are interested in installing a dock leveler, you will need to determine what your loading dock capacity is before you can choose a specific type of leveler. Failure to look at the long-term use of your loading dock could lead to damage to your leveler and your dock or worse, a worker injury.
What Is Loading Dock Capacity?
Capacity refers to what the dock leveler can handle in terms of weight: either the maximum weight it can accommodate when it is extended and in use or the absolute weight that can be distributed across its deck when it’s in the stored position.
A dock leveler’s function is to bridge the space between the dock door and the truck trailer so that workers can load and unload the trailer. When a truck backs into position at the loading dock, the dock leveler is deployed so that either workers or a forklift can easily pass back and forth. When the truck leaves the loading dock, the leveler returns to a stored position. The capacity of a typical dock leveler will vary between 50,000 to 80,000 pounds in the United States, but sometimes it can be as low as 25,000 pounds.
Static vs. Dynamic Capacity
There is a difference between static and dynamic capacity. Static capacity refers to the amount that the dock leveler is engineered to handle while in a stored position with the weight evenly distributed on the leveler. This weight can easily be tested and confirmed by the manufacturer.
Dynamic capacity is harder to calculate because there are many other factors besides weight complicating the equation, including speed, incline, and frequency of use in its installed location. Dynamic capacity is calculated while the dock leveler is fully extended and in use. The leveler must hold the weight of workers and/or a forklift, the driver, and any mechanical attachments or other equipment. The type of forklift and its wheels and tires can also affect dynamic capacity calculations.
Additionally, the dock leveler has to accommodate the weight of the product being moved and it has to do so continually throughout the day, week, and month at varying speeds and in different temperatures and weather. Many factors affect the leveler’s capacity. Even the degree of incline of your leveler deck can make a difference.
Choosing the wrong capacity can lead to damage to the dock leveler or other issues that can result in expensive repairs, product damage, or worker injury. Ultimately, it’s better to err on the side of more capacity than less. A dock leveler is an investment and is built to last for many years of use. Once the dock leveler is installed, you can’t increase its capacity, so you need to determine what your capacity needs are upfront. You really cannot have too much loading dock capacity, especially if you expect your business to grow and expand over time.
If you are not sure what your dock capacity is, Beuschel Sales would be happy to discuss your loading dock’s use patterns with you and help you determine what the best type of leveler is for your company’s needs. Call us today for help with any of your loading dock needs.