Yard Ramps: A Buyer’s Guide
Shipping and receiving facilities face daily logistical challenges at the loading dock.
Whether it’s a backlog of trucks in the yard or broken equipment hampering operations, having portable access to trailers can streamline the workday and bring extra efficiency to your warehouse.
Adding a portable yard ramp to your warehouse can help your team make the most out of the truck yard or loading dock area. Let’s explore what a portable loading dock can do for your facility and what to look out for if you’re in the market to purchase this flexible piece of warehouse equipment.
What Is a Yard Ramp?
Simply put, a yard ramp is a fully mobile loading dock. Facilities utilize yard ramps in a few different ways:
- Dock-to-ground ramps
- Ground-to-truck ramps
Dock-to-ground ramps usually connect to a loading bay dock. They provide a semi-permanent solution that gives forklifts and other lift equipment safe and secure access to a warehouse.
Ground-to-truck yard ramps provide flexible ground access to trailers. This makes yard ramps a versatile tool for unloading trucks regardless of their location in the yard.
How Do Yard Ramps Work?
Yard ramps are relatively simple pieces of warehouse equipment. Even so, understanding how these portable ramps work can help you make a better buying decision.
First, let’s talk about mobility. Yard ramps will feature wheels to help with transportation. You’ll find several wheel types on the market today—but more on that later.
The wheels have the obvious benefit of adding portability to the equipment. Workers will need to position the dock in the correct placement relative to either the trailer or the loading dock. For finer movements, yard ramps will feature a positioning sleeve that a forklift can use to get exact placement.
Next, yard ramps feature adjustable height settings. Usually, operators utilize either a hand crank or a hydraulic pump. This will depend on the specific piece of equipment and manufacturer.
All these components combine to create a highly mobile ramp to help your team master all kinds of loading and unloading situations.
Having flexible access to trucks and the ability to transform a loading dock into a sturdy equipment ramp can have considerable benefits in terms of warehouse efficiency. But how can you source the right equipment to match your unique facility needs?
How to Choose the Right Yard Ramp
If you can picture a yard ramp in your truck yard, what are the next steps if you’re serious about making a purchase? Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
- Weight capacity
- Ramp width
First, you’ll want to make sure you’re sourcing equipment that can handle the stress of your daily workload. While yard ramps are durable and robust, weight capacity is still a factor you should consider.
This can be a challenge if you consistently deal with diverse load weights. As a general rule, make sure your ramp can stand up to at least three times the weight of your heaviest forklift. Consider this the low end of capacity—especially if you deal with oversized loads frequently.
Next, think about ramp width.
You want to make sure your forklift operators have enough space to do their job safely. Always add in at least an extra 15” on top of your widest forklift measurements.
Lastly, will you need a level-off on your ramp? A level-off adds an extra layer of safety for forklift operators by giving them a space to level off before entering or exiting the trailer. This means loads won’t go in at awkward angles.
Forklift safety should always be a top priority for your facility.
Benefits and Features of Yard Docks
Yard ramps come packed with all kinds of benefits and features. Here are a few standard features you might see on portable yard ramp equipment:
- Durable steel construction
- Serrated steel grating for extra traction
- Safety chains to keep the ramp secure
- Reinforced approach aprons
- Easy height adjustment
While most yard ramps will come with these features, a few components tend to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
For instance, to adjust the height of a yard ramp, equipment either comes with a hand crank or a hydraulic pump. This will have a substantial effect on both speed and efficiency. Hydraulic pumps take much of the workload stress off the operator and are easier to use.
Even within the hydraulic pump feature, some ramps will come with a single hydraulic cylinder or two for quicker operation.
Wheels are also another component to consider. Most yard ramps will feature pneumatic tires, while others may use caster wheels. Some will come with solid airless wheel designs that combine the best of both worlds.
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That’s features, but what about benefits? For a full exploration of this topic, be sure to check out our 5 Benefits of Yard Ramps post. But, to get you started, here are a few standout benefits:
- Save space—yard ramps can easily pack away when not in use to free up valuable space in the truck yard.
- Adjustable—whether you want to connect to a truck or a loading dock, you can easily adjust the height of the ramp to meet your needs.
- Can double as a semi-permanent option—while the portable nature of yard ramps makes them perfect for certain applications, you can just as easily use one as a more permanent structure.
Ultimately, it’s all about providing portable and flexible solutions for shipping yard management.
Finding the Right Equipment for Your Facility
Whether you’re looking to add some extra flexibility to your shipping yard or just need a way to move lift equipment into your facility through a loading bay, yard ramps can make for the perfect equipment.
At East Coast Storage Equipment, we specialize in providing our customers with the highest-quality used equipment at a fair price. Be sure to browse our wide selection of used yard ramps. If you have any questions or just need a bit of help finding the right ramp for your facility, get in touch with our team of experts.