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What is a dock leveler? Complete Guide [With Images]

by Ion Rotaru 10 Oct 2023 0 Comments

Welcome to the complete dock leveler guide. In this article, we'll go over everything you need to know about one of the most important pieces of equipment at a dock: the dock leveler. Keep reading to find out what it is, how it works, types of dock levelers, disadvantages, prices, and more. Let's get started!

Article outline:
What is a dock leveler? Dock leveler manufacturers
How does a dock leveler work? Dock leveler cost
Types of dock levelers Dock leveler installation cost
Difference between a dock plate and a dock leveler Life expectancy of a dock leveler
Disadvantages of a dock leveler Maximum slope for a dock leveler
Dock leveler safety tips Find your next dock leveler


What is a dock leveler?

A dock leveler is a piece of equipment that bridges the gap between a warehouse floor and the back of a delivery truck. It's designed to ensure a smooth transition for forklifts and other equipment, making the loading and unloading process more efficient and safe.


How does a dock leveler work?

A dock leveler can operate either manually, mechanically, or hydraulically. When activated, the platform rises and its lip extends to rest on the truck bed. The leveler then adjusts to the truck's height, ensuring a smooth transition for the safe movement of goods.

Once the loading or unloading process is complete, the dock leveler retracts. In hydraulic models, this is achieved by releasing hydraulic fluid, while mechanical models use springs.

The platform returns to its resting position, flush with the warehouse floor, making it ready for the next use. Regular maintenance and proper training are crucial for the safe and efficient operation of dock levelers.

How a dock leveler works

Be sure to read our guide on how to use a dock leveler or our guide on how a dock leveler works, where we go over hydraulic levelers, air dock levelers, vertical dock levelers, and even mechanical dock levelers.

Types of dock levelers

There are several types of dock levelers, each designed to suit specific needs. Some of the common types include the following:

Hydraulic dock leveler: Offering smooth and automatic operation, hydraulic dock levelers are known for their durability and ease of use. They provide precise control and are ideal for high-volume loading docks. The hydraulic system ensures a smooth transition between various heights. For these reasons, hydraulic levelers are often the #1 choice for many warehouse out there.

Mechanical dock leveler: These are manually operated and require physical effort to position. They're a cost-effective option but may require more maintenance. Mechanical levelers are often used in smaller operations where automation isn't necessary. They are robust but may need regular adjustments.

Air-powered dock levelers: Utilizing air pressure, these levelers provide a balance between mechanical and hydraulic types, offering efficiency without the high cost. They are simple to operate and maintain, making them a popular choice for smaller facilities.

What is a dock levelerr - dock leveler types

But this is not all. Read the full dock leveler types article if you want to learn about the other types of dock levelers.

What is the difference between a dock plate and a dock leveler?

While both dock plates and dock levelers serve to bridge the gap between the warehouse and the truck, they have distinct differences. A dock plate is a flat piece of metal used for lighter loads and manual operations. In contrast, a dock leveler is a more robust, permanent solution designed for heavier loads and can adjust to varying truck and dock heights. Dock levelers also normally have higher capacities, at around 30000lbs or more, while dock plates are around 7000lbs to 15000lbs.

Difference between a dock plate and a dock leveler

What are the disadvantages of a dock leveler?

Like any equipment, dock levelers have their disadvantages. Mainly, they can be expensive to install and maintain, and if not used correctly, can pose safety risks. It's essential to ensure regular maintenance and proper training for those operating them.

Dock leveler safety tips

Safety is paramount when operating heavy machinery, and dock levelers are no exception. Some crucial safety tips include:

  • Reading the manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Staying clear when the leveler is in motion.
  • Regularly inspecting the equipment before use.
  • Keeping the area clean and free of debris.
  • Displaying the right signage.
  • Only allowing trained personnel to operate the leveler.

Be sure to read our detailed dock leveler safety tips guide for a comprehensive list. And our dock leveler maintenance guide, which is just as important for safety.

Top dock leveler manufacturers

There's a variety of dock leveler manufacturers to choose from. Some of the top manufacturers include WarehouseWiz (that's us!), Rite-Hite, Blue Giant, and Grainger, among others.

For a detailed list of the top 10 dock leveler manufacturers and what makes them stand out, read this article.

Dock leveler cost

The cost of a dock leveler can vary based on its type, size, and the manufacturer. Factors like installation costs, maintenance, and additional features can also influence the price. In general, you can expect to pay from $2500 for a mechanical edge-of-dock leveler, to around $7000-$10000 for a hydraulic dock leveler.

But let's not forget about the shipping price, which can often be up to 10% of the cost of the dock leveler if the manufacturer is located far from you. This is due to the size and weight of a dock leveler of course. As always, we encourage you to to get quotes from multiple manufacturers to ensure you're getting the best deal for your needs.

Dock leveler installation cost

The cost to install a dock leveler can be as little as $500 for a mechanical edge-of-dock leveler, to as much as $1,000 or more for a hydraulic dock leveler that requires wiring.

Not to mention the pit required for pit style dock levelers, which if you don't have already, will have to be poured either by your team or a contractor.

What is the life expectancy of a dock leveler?

The life expectancy of a dock leveler depends on its type, usage, and maintenance. Generally, a well-maintained hydraulic dock leveler can last up to 10 to 15 years or even more. Regular servicing, at least once a year, can ensure optimal performance and longevity. But like with any piece of equipment, factors like the frequency of use, the weight of loads, and environmental conditions can influence the lifespan of a dock leveler.

Life expectancy of a dock leveler

What is the maximum slope for a dock leveler?

Generally, the maximum slope for a dock leveler is around 1 inch of rise for every 12 inches of run (1:12 or 8.33%). This ensures that you can move across it without the risk of tipping or losing control. However, the maximum slope can vary depending on the manufacturer and type of dock leveler. Make sure to consult the manufacturer's guidelines to determine what is a safe angle.

Find your next dock leveler

We hope you were able to find out what is a dock leveler, and any other information that you were looking for. This is an extremely important piece of equipment in any warehouse.

But if you're looking for a new dock leveler for your own facility, look no further than WarehouseWiz. Our hydraulic dock levelers are top-notch, made in Canada, and are some of the most affordable options out there. Don't just take our word for it, contact us today and see for yourself!

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