Al Ameen Engineering in Dubai, UAE had fabricated many dock levelers over the years. Some of the customers provide wrong information on dock height and required heights which lead to costly mistakes. Here is brief list of things you must know to make right kind of dock leveler.
1, Select the Right Length
It is important to have smooth transition from the forklift to the truck, different height differences require different dock lengths. The greater the distance between dock height and the trailer bed height, the longer the dock levelers should be for easy transition. These days trailer heights are increasing and with the increase in height the length of the dock levelers are increasing.
Short forklift ramps can be extremely dangerous and can limit the capabilities of the forklift which can cause several problems like inadequate amount of lip on the trailer bed can cause wear and tear on forklifts which can cause slower operations and equipment hangup on the crown - the point where the forklift and trailer meet.
2, Electric or Gas Powered Forklift?
Electric forklift have lower grade capacity or gradeability as they are lower compared to gas powered forklifts. Electric forklifts have maximum grade capability of 10% and gas powered can go up to 15% (please check this with the manufacturer specifications). If you have pneumatic tyres then it can loose additional height while loading when compared to solid rubber tyres.
3, Get the Right Width
Getting the right width is important as it can cause interference with the forklift when it enters the dock, greater and wider dock levelers offer greater access for below the dock operations with minimal wall interference, Wider dock also gives the forklift to move around and better turn radius though wider docks can be heavy. We have 2m, 2.5 m and 3m width dock levelers where we have installed many in and around Dubai and UAE.
4, Get the Capacity of Forklift
Depending on the frequency, weight and speed of the forklift you use you will have to get custom made dock leveler for your needs.
Frequency - By frequency we mean how many times will you use dock leveler to load and unload which can affect the longevity of your dock leveler.
Gross Weight - By gross weight we mean heaviest capacity a forklift can carry including the attachments plus the weight of the forklift including the driver. Here is the breakdown of the forklift capacity.
Angle/Slope or Capacity of Leveler - When you have steep angle, if the forklift enters on high speed it can affect the longevity of the leveler, high steep can cause high impact on the leveler thus reducing the lift of the leveler as compared to when it is low inclined. Similarly of a dock leveler has been built with high capacity, it can take in high wear and tear and make it stronger.
5, Safety Features on Dock Leveler
Some of the features you have to consider is the contingencies while loading and unloading. Here are some of the features you need to ask when you consider getting a dock leveler.
Free-fall Protection - If there is a load on the dock leveler and the trailer pulls away from the dock, there is heavy load on the platform, the leveler may drop which can endanger the personnel and the cargo. A free-fall system in place can prevent the fall like velocity safety fuse found in hydraulic systems and supporting legs found in mechanical models.
Vehicle Restraints - Many accidents are caused when the trailer makes unexpected departure from the dock.To prevent this from happening it is advisable to use vehicle restraints which should not be considered as replacement for built-in leveler free fall safety system.
6, Check out the Maintenance Costs
Next important factor you will have to consider is the maintenance of the dock, both hydraulic and mechanical have pros and cons for the maintenance. Hydraulic levelers typically require less maintenance than others due to the design of the levelers and can be pricier in the beginning but it pays off as it has lowest lifetime ownership costs. Ask your prospective vendor about the maintenance requirements of the dock levelers you are going to purchase.