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Dock Leveler Design Guide - Selection, Types, Planning

by Carllaen Joshua Gonzales 20 Dec 2023 0 Comments

Dock levelers come in different shapes, types, and sizes. So if you're planning on installing one or redoing your loading dock, it's important to learn about the different designs based on all those factors. This is not only important from a safety stand-point, but can also save you thousands of money in the long-term.

In this blog, we're looking at the different types of levelers, their designs, and some points to consider when designing your loading dock for a more efficient and safe operation. Let's get started!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only. Although efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy content, we strongly recommend that you consult with a qualified professional to assess specific requirements and for a safety and compliance evaluation.

Designs of different types of dock levelers

There are a wide variety of dock levelers and each one of them works differently. As such, their build and design is also different from each other. Let's take a closer look at them.

Hydraulic dock leveler

The controlled and smooth movement of hydraulic dock levelers is made possible by the use of hydraulic cylinders. They are push button-activated so they are simple to operate and take little effort. Hydraulic dock levelers are appropriate for heavy-duty applications because they have a greater weight capacity than mechanical levelers.

dock leveler design hydraulic leveler

Mechanical dock leveler

Mechanical dock levelers are the most commonly used in many warehouses. They are manually operated by pulling the release chain to raise the leveler, which can then be lowered with the lip on the truck/container by walking on top of it.

This dock leveler runs on a compression spring mechanism that allows the deck to rise and lower. They are durable and requires low maintenance.

mechanical dock leveler design

Air dock leveler

Air-powered dock levelers use air bags or air cylinders to raise and lower the platform. They are also push button-activated, with an electric motor blower and pump that blows air into the airbag. They offer a high level of control and precision, allowing for easy adjustment to match the trailer bed height. Air-powered levelers are known for their quiet operation and low maintenance requirements.

air dock leveler design

Vertical dock leveler

Vertical dock levelers consist of a series of interconnected vertical beams that are hydraulically operated. When the dock leveler is not in use, the vertical beams are stored in a vertical position. When a trailer needs to be loaded or unloaded, the operator simply activates the hydraulic system with the push of a button, which lowers the vertical beams to the trailer bed.

Vertical dock leveler

Edge of dock leveler

An edge of dock leveler works relatively simple yet effective and can be operated manually with a bar or hydraulically. It typically consists of a metal plate, a hinge mechanism, and a spring assembly. The metal plate is mounted to the edge of the loading dock and can be raised or lowered to match the height of the truck bed.

Related: How Does a Dock Leveler Work? [Quick Guide]

Design your loading dock with a dock leveler in mind

Dock levelers are designed to adjust to different heights between the dock of the facility and the truck or trailer bed. Designing a loading dock requires careful consideration of different factors in order to guarantee a safe and functional operation.

  1. Trailer configuration - In designing your loading dock, you must consider the types of trailers and their designs that will most frequently be used. Your goal should be to create a dock height and door size that will accommodate the different types of trailers, their height, and range.

     Type of Trailer Minimum Trailer Bed Height Maximum Trailer Bed Height
    Container 56" 62"
    Reefer 50" 62"
    Flatbed 48" 60"
    City Delivery 44" 48"
    Straight Truck 36" 48"
    Double Axle Semi-Trailer 44" 52"
    Furniture Van 24" 36"
    High Cube Van 36" 42"
    Step Van 20" 30"
    Panel Truck 20" 24"
  2. Loading dock access - Something else you must keep in mind is the trailer's access to the loading dock. When backing the vehicles into position, the shape of the ground can vary from being leveled, depressed (angled towards building), or inclined (slightly angled away from building).
    Ideally, a slightly inclined dock approach is better since the loading dock does not interfere with the position of the trailer in any way and allows water runoff away from the building. 

    inclined dock approach

    If you're working with a depressed dock, there are several special considerations to be made. Dock seals or dock shelters must be tapered to match the angle of the trailer. This is to avoid any impact from the trailer to the building wall and prevent any potential serious damage.

    depressed dock approach

  3. Apron space - A sufficient apron space is required to give trucks enough room to maneuver and position the trailers in place freely in and out of the loading dock.

    dock leveler design apron space
    In calculating for apron space, it is recommended that you take twice the overall vehicle length of the longest possible trailer and add a safety factor of about 5 to 10 feet. For example, for a 70' trailer, you must have a 150' of apron spacing.

  4. Dock positioning - Physical layout of dock positioning will be either along straight wall or with saw tooth dock arrangement. The most commonly used arrangement is a flush wall with doors spaced at least 12 feet apart, allowing for a truck width of 10 feet. But when space is limited for vehicle positioning, saw tooth dock arrangement is used.

    dock leveler design dock positioning
  5. Dock height - In designing your loading dock, make sure that the dock height is versatile in order to accommodate different types of trailer. While the most common dock height is 48" to 52", you goal is to match the dock height to the trailers that will be seen at the dock. 

    dock leveler design dock height-

Hire us for your dock leveler needs

Need help choosing the right dock leveler? Don't have time to install it by yourself? If you're looking for expertise, affordability, and support, WarehouseWiz is here for you.

Based out of Quebec, Canada, we offer affordable hydraulic dock levelers as well as other popular types, with a trusted network of dock equipment experts all over the country. We pride ourselves on manufacturing most models here in Canada, so you know you're getting a high quality product. But despite that, we offer more competitive pricing and shipping times than our competitors. So don't wait, contact us today for all your dock leveler needs!

Get a quote

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