How to Choose the Right Dock Plate
BY ROBERT BROOME, OWNER
Choosing the correct dock plate is extremely important, as an incorrect plate will not fit properly, and could cause additional damage to the dock. The right capacity and size will help to ensure better performance. In this article, we’ll look at all of the things that you will need to consider when you are buying a dock plate.
Safety Is Always Important
The dock plate you choose needs to be right for your application, not just the cheapest option you can find. It needs to be able to work under conditions specific to your country. The difference between the types of forklift in use is more important than you might imagine as well. The three-wheeled forklift will generally need to have a dock plate with a higher weight capacity.
To determine the necessary weight requirements, determine the lifting capabilities of the biggest piece of equipment you will be using. Multiply that by three. In the case of those three-wheeled forklifts, increase the capacity to the next highest level. Many experts feel that if more than one shift a day will be using the dock, it’s a good idea to increase the weight capacity by another level.
The Right Width
A good rule of thumb when choosing the dock plate is to choose one that’s at least 12” wider than the largest piece of equipment that will go onto it. This will ensure there is plenty of room for error.
The Right Length
When trying to calculate the proper length for the plate, you have to look at three different elements. First, you need to choose the dock height. It is also important to know the height of the truck bed, and the type of loading equipment you will be using on the dock.
When choosing the right length, you have to consider the height differential. This is the number of inches up or down that the plate will need to accommodate. If the dock is 48” high, and the edge of the trailer is 52”, then the differential would be 4”. When you are choosing the right plate, you need to find one that will be able to accommodate all of the different trailers that come through your business.
Because all companies are slightly different in what they need, it might be advisable to speak with a professional who can help you with your calculations, simply so you can be sure you are buying the right product.
What’s the Cost?
Another one of the most important elements to consider when you are buying a dock plate is the price. Different types of plates have different costs, naturally. While the manufacturers will have different prices, the cost goes beyond just the company that makes the product. Steel is larger and heavier, and it can stand up to heavier weights. However, it tends to be cheaper than aluminum, which is much lighter.
The shipping costs for these products will vary too. Naturally, steel is heavier and will have a higher shipping cost. When considering shipping, make sure you know just how long it will take before the plate arrives. In some cases, it can take time to create a plate that’s perfect for your company. This, coupled with slow shipping, can be a problem for some companies. Always look at just how long it will take before you have the plate at your company before buying. If you don’t need it right away, then you have more leeway in what you order. Some companies might offer rush shipping, but you can naturally expect that this will cost even more.