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What is a dock plate? Complete guide

by Ion Rotaru 27 Jun 2023 0 Comments

A dock plate is quite literally the bridge between a warehouse and the outside world. Without it, pallets can't get off or on the truck. Needless to say, not having one can be quite the bottleneck. 

But what exactly is a dock plate? How is a dock plate used? And how does it differ from a dock board? In this article, we'll answer all these questions and more. So, let's get started.

What is a dock plate? - Dock plate guide

What is a dock plate?

A dock plate is a flat piece of metal that is used to bridge the gap between a dock and a vehicle, such as a truck or a trailer. It's a simple, yet essential tool in the world of logistics and material handling. Dock plates are typically made of aluminum or steel and come in various sizes to fit different types of vehicles and loads.

A dock plate typically consists of the following parts:

Dock plate parts diagram - WarehouseWiz

Plate Body: This is the main part of the dock plate, a flat piece of metal (usually steel or aluminum) that forms the bridge between the dock and the vehicle. The body of the dock plate is designed to withstand the weight of the load being moved across it.

Lip: The lip is a protruding part of the dock plate that rests on the dock or the vehicle. It helps to secure the dock plate in place and prevent it from moving or slipping during use. The lip is usually bent at an angle for better grip and stability.

Locking Legs: Some dock plates come with locking legs or safety curbs on the sides. These legs help to keep the dock plate stable and prevent it from moving or slipping out of place when loads are being moved across it.

Hand Holes or Handles: Many dock plates feature hand holes or handles on the sides. These are used to lift and position the dock plate. They make it easier to move the dock plate to and from the dock and the vehicle. These are especially useful for heavier dock plates as well.

Tread or Diamond Pattern: The surface of the dock plate often has a tread or diamond pattern. This pattern provides extra grip and reduces the risk of slipping, especially in wet or icy conditions.

What is a dock plate used for?

Dock plates are mainly used to safely and efficiently transfer goods from a vehicle to a dock, or vice versa. They provide a smooth and stable surface for forklifts, pallet jacks, and other types of material handling equipment to move across. This not only speeds up the loading and unloading process but also reduces the risk of accidents and injuries.

What is a dock plate used for?

Dock plates vs Dock boards

While dock plates and dock boards may look similar, they serve different purposes and are used in different scenarios. Dock plates are designed for lighter loads and are typically used with manual equipment like hand trucks. They are flat and do not have any side rails.

On the other hand, dock boards are built for heavier loads and are used with forklifts and other powered equipment. They are thicker and stronger than dock plates, and they have side rails to prevent equipment from falling off the edges.

So, while dock plates and dock boards may serve a similar function, they are not interchangeable. Be sure to read our article on dock boards vs dock plates where we go in depth on this topic.

Dock board vs dock plate - What is a dock plaet

How to choose a dock plate

Choosing the right dock plate depends on several factors, including the type of equipment you'll be using, the weight of the loads you'll be moving, and the height difference between the dock and the vehicle. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice:

  1. Material: Aluminum dock plates are lighter and easier to move, but steel dock plates are more durable and can handle heavier loads.
  2. Size: The dock plate should be at least 12 inches wider than the equipment you'll be using.
  3. Capacity: The dock plate should be able to handle at least 20% more than the maximum weight you'll be moving.
  4. Lip: The lip of the dock plate should be able to securely rest on both the dock and the vehicle.
  5. Height Differential: The dock plate you choose should be suitable for the height difference between your dock and the vehicle. This height differential, also known as the 'rise,' is crucial to consider because a dock plate that's too steep can be dangerous to use, while one that's too shallow may not provide enough clearance for your equipment.

What is a dock plate and how to choose one

Dock plate prices

Dock plate prices can vary widely depending on the size, material, and capacity. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 for a small aluminum dock plate to over $1,100 for a large steel dock plate.

Remember, it's important to invest in a high-quality dock plate that can safely handle your needs. Not only that, but buying the right dock plate means you'll probably be using it for many many years.

Dock Plate FAQs

What is another name for a dock plate?

Dock plates are sometimes referred to as dock ramps or loading dock plates. They're also mistakenly referred to as dock boards, which as we learned earlier are not quite the same thing.

How much weight can a dock plate hold?

The weight that a dock plate can hold, also known as its load capacity, varies depending on its size, material, and design. Dock plates are designed to handle different load capacities, ranging from a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds.

For example, a small aluminum dock plate might be rated for loads up to 500 pounds, making it suitable for hand trucks and dollies. On the other hand, a large steel dock plate might be able to handle loads up to 10,000 pounds or more, making it suitable for forklifts and other heavy equipment.

How far should dock plates be placed to have a minimum overlap?

Dock plates should have a minimum overlap of 8 inches on each side of the gap they are covering. This ensures stability and safety during use. Always check the manufacturer's instructions for specific guidelines.

What are dock plates made of?

Dock plates are typically made of aluminum or steel. Aluminum dock plates are lighter and easier to handle, while steel dock plates are more durable and can support heavier loads.

And there you have it! I hope this post has helped you understand what a dock plate is, how it's used, and how to choose the right one for your needs. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop a comment below. Keep up the good work!

P.S: Browse our collection of dock plates and dock boards online if your warehouse needs one. Not only do we guarantee quality, we've also got the most competitive prices on the market. Contact us anytime if you have any questions.

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