Dock Levelers - Straightforward Answers to Common Questions

by Rodney Yates on September 24, 2021
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Dock Levelers - Straightforward Answers to Common Questions
A dock leveler is the most effective way to prevent equipment damage and tragic incidents at your loading dock. In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about dock levelers, including:

  • Do I need a dock leveler, dock plate or dock board?
  • How much do dock levelers cost?
  • How long do dock levelers last?
  • How long does it take to get a dock leveler installed?
  • What are the most popular dock levelers in Northern California?
  • Can I convert a mechanical dock leveler into a hydraulic dock leveler?

Important note: the current lead time for a new dock leveler is 2-3 months. TMHNC is a preferred supplier and can often get them in 4-6 weeks, but don’t wait. If you need a dock leveler, contact us online or by phone: 

Bay Area - Livermore (510) 379-5210
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091

Loading Dock Levelers 101

The gap between the back of a truck and a loading dock is one of the most dangerous places in any facility. Loading dock levelers, dock plates and dock boards provide a secure bridge across that uneven gap.

When to buy a dock leveler vs. a dock plate or dock board
Dock levelers (also known as edge-of-dock levelers and pit levelers) provide a stable, secure platform for forklifts and personnel to transit between the transport vehicle and the loading dock. 

A quality loading dock leveler will last for years if properly maintained and can be installed in just one day.  

Dock plates and dock boards are designed to be picked up and moved from one area to another versus a dock leveler/edge-of-dock, which is permanently attached to the loading dock. 

  • Dock plates are lightweight (they’re typically made of aluminum) and are only designed to support light-duty equipment like pallet jacks and dollies. If you don’t use a forklift to move material and don’t anticipate using one in the future, opt for a dock plate instead of a dock leveler. 
  • A dock board is also portable, but it's strong enough to handle small forklifts. Contact us for more information about when to choose a dock board versus a dock leveler.

What’s the difference between an edge-of-dock leveler and a dock leveler?
Edge-of-dock levelers are mounted to the dock face rather than the floor/pit of the dock surface. If your loading dock does not have an existing dock leveler or pit, an edge-of-dock is an economical alternative because you won’t have to do any demolition, framing, etc. to create the pit.

What are the most important considerations when choosing a dock leveler?
The most important factors when choosing a dock leveler are:

  • The combined weight of the forklift and freight - so you get the right capacity
  • How many trucks get loaded/unloaded every week
  • The height of your dock
  • The height of a typical truck/trailer
  • The Grade of the truck approach
  • The dock leveler manufacturer's reputation for quality

Other factors include:

  • Voltage in the existing or proposed building (if buying a hydraulic dock leveler)
  • Will the leveler be used by 3-wheel or 4-wheel forklifts?

How much do dock levelers cost?
The least expensive option is a mechanical edge-of-dock. With installation, the price is around $4500. On the higher end, a hydraulic 7’ x 11’ dock leveler costs around $25,000, including installation. 

Read about the most popular types of dock levelers used in the Bay Area and Northern California.

What’s the lead time for a loading dock leveler?
Due to supply shortages, the current lead time for a new dock leveler is 14-16 weeks. TMHNC is a preferred vendor; so, depending on the type of dock leveler you’re looking for, we may be able to get a replacement in only 6-8 weeks.

A new dock leveler can be installed in only one day.

How long should a loading dock leveler last?
A dock leveler that is properly maintained, cycled correctly and operated within its weight rating can last as long as the building it’s attached to.

The most critical factor in the longevity of a dock leveler (assuming it’s correctly installed) is preventative maintenance and immediate repair following an incident. Collision damage, if not fixed right away, cause internal damage that gets worse and worse until the equipment self-destructs. If your dock leveler is making a strange noise or the lip won’t come out, don’t wait to get it repaired. When a leveler is placed out of service right away and professionally repaired, it can almost always be fixed and with no long-term problems. 

What are the best dock levelers?
Beware of dock leveler manufacturers that aren't clear about the capacity of their equipment and/or equipment that doesn't conform to architectural and building design best practices. A good dock leveler will also come with a robust warranty. The NORDOCK dock levelers we sell come with a:

  • 20-year warranty on the front hinge
  • 10-year structural warranty
  • 5-year warranty on the lifting mechanism
  • 20-year warranty on the full-width rear hinge

Can I convert a mechanical dock leveler into a hydraulic leveler?
Technically? Yes, it’s possible, but it's not cost-effective. Though both perform the same task, a hydraulic dock leveler is built and designed differently. It's like trying to turn a Prius into a dragster. You'll have
mismatched components and equipment that's a pain in the keister to fix.

Another reason to simply buy a hydraulic dock leveler: liability. When you buy a dock leveler, it’s UL-approved based on the manufacturer's specs. By modifying the equipment, you’re on the hook for injuries and damage if the leveler fails or malfunctions.

Dock Levelers for Sale in the Bay Area and Northern California

A dock leveler is an effective way to improve loading dock safety and productivity. If your business is located in the Bay Area, Sacramento, Fresno or anywhere in Northern California, give us a call or request a quote online. We’ll help you choose the best dock leveler for your operational needs and budget.

Read more about the loading dock systems we sell or contact us online with any questions you may have.


Bay Area - Livermore (510) 379-5210
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091

Further Reading
Can Your Business Operate Without a Dock Leveler for 2-3 Months?
Dock Levelers Vs. Edge-of-Dock Levelers 
How Loading Dock Levelers Drastically Improve Safety

Loading Dock Safety Guide

Topics: Loading Docks

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