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A dockboard is a tool used to bridge the gap between the dock ledge and the truck or boxcar to be loaded or offloaded. The need to be durable enough to hold the weight of a forklift or jack yet portable enough to be placed into position and removed as new vehicles pull up to the dock.
Dockboards come in many different materials, but most are made of steel or heavy-duty aluminum and have industrial diamond-plate or other skid-proof surfaces. Some have beveled edges allow for smooth transition while others have lip bends to prevent vehicles from slipping off their sides.
Manual or Automatic Positioning
Dockboards can be moved into position either manually or automatically. In some cases, forklift operators will lift the heavy dockboard using the forks of their vehicle and move it into position between the dock and the vehicle. Some docks, however, have hydraulic dockboards that can be moved into position by use of automated controls.
A third type of dockboard — called an EZ Roll dockboard — can be positioned by one person without the use of a forklift. These dockboards have telecoping, self-storing handles that allow for the easy placement of the dockboard manually.
Consider Size and Weight Capacity
When choosing a dockplate, the two primary considerations are size and weight capacity. You need to know the dock height, the height of the highest truck that will be using that dock, and the type and capacity of the equipment you will be using to roll over the dockboard.
The height differential is calculated by subtracting the height of your dock in inches from maximum height of most trailers, which generally is 55 inches for standard trailers and 59 inches for refrigerated trailers.
Dockboards should be a minimum of 12 to 18 inches wider than the overall width of the vehicle or pallet used.
The weight of your forklift or power jack should be listed on its name plate. If not, it can easily be found in your owner’s manual or by going to the manufacturer’s website. To calculate the maximum capacity of the dockplate, add this weight to the maximum weight of the biggest load that the vehicle will be carrying, along with any forklift attachments that will be used.
Types of Dockplates
Standard aluminum dockplates have a capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 pounds. Steel dockboards typically can handle 15,000 to 40,000 pounds. This capacity is calculated by the weight of a vehicle traveling across its surface at a rate of 3 miles per hour.
Specialized dockboards for use with rail cars — called railboards — have additional understructure support and bumpers that fit around the boxcar latches to protect the doorlatch from damage. They usually have a capacity of 15,000 to 80,000 pounds.
Some dockboards have pins that are used to lock them into position so they can’t slide off during use. These pins fit into each side and provide safe loading conditions for loading and unloading applications.
Forklift Accessories carries a wide variety of dockboards in both standard and custom sizes. Check out our complete inventory by clicking here now.