Loading Dock Blog

    Specifying The Correct Loading Dock Leveler for Your Facility

    [fa icon="clock-o"] Dec 2, 2016 4:27:00 PM [fa icon="user"] Maria Lacanlale [fa icon="folder-open'] dock levelers, Dock Leveler Length, Dock Leveler Lip, Dock Leveler Activation System, Dock Leveler Width, Dock Leveler Load Capacity, all blog


    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, recessed dock leveler picture; Loading Dock, Inc. blog

    Because a recessed dock leveler has a wider range of operation, it is the best choice to accommodate a wide range of bed heights. Only choose the Edge-of-dock (EOD) leveler if the facility operates within the EOD’s narrow range of applications.

    Read more to find out how to specify the correct Loading Dock Leveler for your facility.

    Dock  levelers have long lives and contribute significantly to facility efficiency. It is important to provide accurate specifications for the docklevelers, including:

    • Length
    • Width
    • Lip projection
    • Load capacity
    • Activation system
    • Environmental capability


    The length of the dockleveler is an important determinant of the dockleveler slope. This slope must be less than the maximum grade capability of the loading equipment. The length of the docklever is based on the maximum height difference between the loading platform and the truck beds. Docklevelers are available in lengths from 5 to 12 ft. The most popular length is 8 ft, which is suitable for most applications. The normal maximum grade operation for a manual pallet truck is 7%. For an electric pallet truck, normal maximum grade is 10%. For an internal combustion
    forklift, normal maximum grade is 15%. Consult the equipment manufacturer for maximum grade recommendations.


    These normal maximum recommendations may vary depending on equipment specifications or design changes.The lengths shown in Loading dock equipment table below are the minimum dockleveler lengths required to keep the dockleveler ramp slope within the capability of the loading equipment.

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, table 1; minimum dock leveler lengths for loading dock equipment

    For height differences or loading equipment not shown in the figures, the minimum dockleveler length is the height difference divided by the equipment’s maximum grade capability.

    Forklifts and pallet trucks must have sufficient ground clearance to move freely and safely over a dockleveler
    (see Image 2 and Image 3). It is especially important to check ground clearances of pallet jacks on EOD docklevelers. Pallet jack clearance is less of a concern on recessed levelers. If there are concerns about clearances, consult with the loading equipment supplier.

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, image 1; wheelbase and clearance

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, image 2; pallet jack rear and front guide clearance

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, image 3; fork lift clearance


    Dock levelers are available in standard widths of 6 ft, 6-1/2 ft and 7 ft. The most common width is 6 ft, which suits most applications. However, 6-1/2 ft and 7 ft wide dock levelers are becoming more popular for wider trailers and side-by-side pallet arrangements (see Image 4, Image 5 and Image 6).

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, image 4; 6 feet  dock levelers

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility image, 5; 6/2 feet dock levelers

    7 ft wide dock levelers provide the best access for below-dock loading and end-loading side-by-side pallets. The end of the dock leveler lip should taper from 7 ft to 6.5 ft wide in order to service narrow trailers. However, it is not always necessary to taper the lip due to the standard trailer width increasing to 96 in. Maintaining the full width allows for the greatest maneuvering space and eliminates the dropoff area created by the taper.

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, image 7; feet dock levelers


    The dock leveler lip must extend at least 4 in. into the truck per ANSI MH30.1 (Image 7). A standard lip is 16 in., which projects 12 in. in front of the dock bumpers. Longer lips may be needed to accommodate the special rear step and rear door configurations on some trailers. The step of a refrigerated trailer may require a lip projection that is
    14 in. or longer past the bumpers.

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, image 7; lip projection beyond bumpers


    The load capacity of the dockleveler depends on the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the forklift. For light to normal usage, the minimum required dockleveler load capacity equals the forklift GVW x 2.5. For normal to heavy usage, use a multiplier of 3 to 4. GVW = Weight of forklift + Weight of maximum load Load Capacity = GVW x 2.5 Example: 12,000 lb forklift gross weight + 6,000 lb gross load = 18,000 lb x 2.5 = 45,000 lb load capacity.

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility; image 8 forklift and load gross weight

    If the exact capacity is not available, use the next higher capacity. Using a higher-than-required load capacity will extend the life of the dockleveler. The following conditions affect load capacity:
    • Each dock position serves eight trucks or more each day
    • Forklifts do not drive straight onto the dockleveler
    • Forklifts with three wheels are used
    • Forklift speeds exceed 4 mph
    • Forklifts are equipped with front end attachments or fork side shifters


    Push button activation is the most ergonomic and safest type of dockleveler activation system. Manual or spring counterbalance activation should be used only when electrical power is not available. Push button-operated docklevelers may be less expensive over the long term as they require less service.


    On inside/outside docks at temperature-controlled facilities, use perimeter weather seals to help prevent
    outside air from entering the building. At refrigerated facilities, the underside of the dockleveler ramp should be insulated. Condensation on the underside of the ramp causes corrosion and structural probelms. Expanded foam insulation helps prevent the warmer outside air from condensing on the underside of the ramp. Insulation also saves
    energy by minimizing the loss of refrigerated air.


    Consider adding optional features to increase the effectiveness of the installation.


    Dock levelers are normally supplied with a 16 in. lip plate that will suit the majority of applications. Lip length can be increased to 18 in. to 20 in. projecting out further from the dock face. Increased lip projection is necessary to deal with bumper projections of more than 4 in., substantial dock and truck bed height differences, and setback internal truck beds─typical with refrigerated trucks and trailers.

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility image 9 setback internal truck bed-821834-edited.png

    When loading or unloading a truck with a setback internal truck bed such as trailer with swing doors, the lip must be sized to ensure lip contact with the internal bed. If the lip does not project over the internal setback and therefore rests on the step below the internal truck bed, the material handling equipment will strike the edge of the step up to the bed on every entry, making product transfer both rough and inefficient.


    Neoprene strips attach along the sides and/or rear of the deck assembly to better control the climate. The preferred weatherseal to protect against rodent entry is brush seal.


    The zinc metalized spray process produces the optimal finish. Each dock leveler component is galvanized before assembly to provide complete protection. Galvanizing is commonly used in facilities that handle corrosive materials or are near harsh environments such as salt water.


    Hydraulic docklevelers have lower lifetime ownership costs. Including maintenance, the estimated 10-year
    ownership costs for a dockleveler are $3200 for a mechanical dockleveler, and $1000 for a hydraulic or air bag dockleveler. Air bag docklevelers are ergonomically correct, reducing the potential of employee injuries, and easier to use with their push button configuration. Air bag docklevelers have a “stump-out” safety feature where fall safe legs impede below-dock and docklevel situations. The safety legs come to rest on the floor while the dockleveler is being used.

    Hydraulic and air bag docklevelers log fewer hours and therefore have longer working lives. Because mechanical docklevelers are upward biased and the springs and holdown are in the stressed condition, the moving parts wear over time. However, hydraulic and air bag docklevelers are working only when they are being used and while the button is being pressed. Hydraulic docklevelers increase safety on and around the loading dock. There is improved fall safe protection due to the velocity fuse fall safe over mechanical legs. The fuse will stop within 3 in. of
    drop. Hydraulic docklevelers can accommodate higher load capacities. Mechanical and air bag docklevelers can handle a maximum rating of 55,000 lb, while hydraulic docklevelers can be used for load capacities of up to 100,000 lbs.


    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility dock leveler, before and after pic

    The professional technicians at Loading Dock, Inc. have wide experience in fixing  worn-out and rusty dock levelers.  To ensure that your dock levelers are in best shape;  rusting should be given proper attention.  

    "Book Service Call" Now!

    Book Service Call

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, loading dock leveler raised position

    specifying the correct loading dock leveler for your facility, loading dock leveler installment

    The proficient servicemen of Loading Dock, Inc.  have been in the loading dock equipment service for over 3 decades. They have broad knowledge in providing repairs, installation and maintenance for all brands and types of dock levelers.

    "Schedule Estimate" today!

    Schedule Estimate

    For more information, please give us a call at 973-471-4060 or email us at: info@dockndoor.com We service Northern New Jersey (Bergen, Passaic, Union, Essex, Morris, Hudson, Hunterdon, Somerset county/counties), Manhattan, New York City, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Westchester and Rockland. 

    Maria Lacanlale

    Written by Maria Lacanlale

    Subscribe to Email Updates

    Lists by Topic

    see all

    Posts by Topic

    see all

    Recent Posts