Dock Equipment Distributor - Los Angeles, CA
Types of Levelers
Although it’s a simple device, a leveler is a critical piece of dock equipment. Every pallet going in or coming out of your facility goes across a leveler, so choosing the right option is an important decision.
There are essentially three categories of levelers: hydraulic, mechanical and air powered. Beyond standard levelers, there are also specialty options like edge-of-dock levelers, barrier safety lip levelers and vertical dock levelers.
Hydraulic Dock Leveler
Built for high capacity environments, powered hydraulic levelers are workhorses that can withstand years of heavy use. They are among the safest and most reliable options for dock levelers. They’re standard equipment in high-volume environments and have a long useful life expectancy. Although they’re more costly up front, they generally cost less to maintain than other options in the longer term.
Mechanical levelers are best suited for lower volume operations. They are decidedly “low tech”, relying on springs instead of hydraulic pumps. They’re easy to operate and quite durable, but they do require a fair amount of regular maintenance and lubrication. And, because they’re manually operated, they are not as efficient as hydraulic options. This also makes them less than ideal from an ergonomics perspective, as operators must bend and stoop to engage them.
Air powered dock levelers are a “middle ground” option between mechanical and hydraulic levelers. They’re more reliable than mechanical units and less expensive than hydraulic options. They use an air bag to raise and lower the deck plate. The bag is inflated or deflated at the push of a button. These systems are not as efficient as hydraulic options, but are well suited to extreme conditions like sub-zero temperatures and caustic substances. Although relatively inexpensive to maintain, air bag replacement can be quite expensive.
Dock Equipment Installation
When purchasing a leveler, you must also consider the installation requirements for the option that you select. In general, there are two types of installation categories: new construction or replacement.
New Construction: New construction generally uses pre-formed pits, where dock levelers are built into pits formed into the concrete. These preformed pits are custom-sized to the dimensions of the selected leveler. Although there is a lower upfront equipment cost for this type of leveler, the overall installation cost may be higher when considering costs to address electrical requirements, build the pit and install the leveler.
Replacement: For standard sized pits, leveler replacement is usually pretty straightforward. When pits are non-standard shapes or sizes, ”pit-kits” are often used. Built from pre-fab steel panels, they are pre-sized for particular levelers. They include three side walls and the front curb angle. Concrete is poured around the perimeter of the walls and the pre-fab pit is ready for installation of the leveler.
Pour-in-place: This is a third style of construction, sometimes called pan board or pan leveler, that is seldom used. Pour in place options are similar to the pit-kits described above except the steel walls are delivered already welded to the dock leveler. This type of installation is great for facilities that are installing multiple units at the same time. With this method, a concrete slab is constructed at the same height of the opening in the foundation wall. The leveler is set on the slab and centered and concrete is poured around the outside of the pour-in pan. The pan walls separate the leveler from the concrete and create a perfectly formed pit.
Dock Leveler Parts & Accessories
With any type of installation, weather seals can be installed between the dock leveler and pit wall to minimize energy waste and prevent rodents, insects and other pests from gaining access to the warehouse through the loading dock. Various types of seal kits are available, including brush seals, vinyl, neoprene and other materials.
Although not as necessary in the Los Angeles climate, there are many other options to prevent energy waste, from dock leveler insulation blankets to dock shelters that create a seal between the trailer and the dock.
To prevent accidents, full range toe guards are also recommended for all dock levelers. These are highly visible barriers along the dock edges that prevent dock attendants from getting their feet stuck under the leveler. Although primarily for safety, toe guards have the added benefit of protecting pallets, merchandise and equipment from getting crushed by the dock leveler.
There are other safety features available for most levelers. For mechanical and air powered options, fallsafe protection and safety legs are standard equipment. Hydraulic levelers often interlock options for vehicle restraints and overhead doors, emergency ramp-stops and various other mechanisms to protect workers, equipment and merchandise.
Raymond West carries a full range of accessories and parts for all material handling needs.
Dock Leveler Service & Repair
Just like any other equipment that gets frequent use, dock levelers must be maintained on a regular service schedule, not only for safety, but also to prevent costly down time. The following checklist includes typical maintenance items for most levelers:
- Inspect all safety devices on the leveler
- Clean the top of the plate, rollers and in between the curb angles and sides
- Remove any debris from the pit or from the area surrounding floor mounted levelers
- Check the push-out plate and push in bar for damage
- Check safety legs
- Check return spring for proper operation
- Inspect the clips and snap rings on roller and axles
- Check rollers for malfunctioning bearings
- Look for elongation of springs
- Check the plate understructure for broken welds, cracks, corrosion or other stress
- After inspecting, operate the leveler to check for abnormal noises, vibrations or anomalies
Any items that require repair or replacement should be referred to a qualified technician that has access to a full range of dock leveler parts.
Dock Equipment Vendor in Los Angeles
If you’d like assistance in selecting, installing, servicing or repairing a loading dock leveler, you can speak with a professional at Raymond West by calling 562-944-8067.
If you’re anywhere in Southern California or Las Vegas, you can find us at these locations:
Los Angeles, CA
9939 Norwalk Blvd
Santa Fe Springs, California 90670
4602 E Brickell St.
Ontario, California 91761
San Diego, CA
12310 World Trade Dr
San Diego, California 92128
28303 Industry Dr.
Valencia, California 91355
Las Vegas, NV
2555 E. Washburn Rd.
North Las Vegas, Nevada 89081