What is a Dock Leveler and How Do I Choose the Right Type?


Dock levelers are an integral piece of loading dock equipment that can make or break operational efficiencies. Warehouses and related facilities around the world use loading dock levelers to safely bridge the gap between loading docks and truck trailer beds ported at docking facilities.

If you need your dock levelers repaired, maintained, or replaced, the professional dock experts at Gem Dock & Door are here to help.

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How Do Dock Levelers Work?

There are numerous types of dock levelers available, all with the purpose of making it easier and safer to transport items to or from the trailer bed. Each dock leveler has different components and many have electrical, hydraulic, and air attachments.  

Loading dock levelers “level” the height difference between docks and trailers by adjusting the dock plate to extend with the metal lip over the gap. The leveler helps individuals, forklifts and other lift equipment safely enter the trailer bed, avoiding common accidents like falling between the dock and trailer or accidentally driving off the dock.

Determining the right type of dock leveler for your loading docks depends on your needs and capabilities. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of dock levers available, how to choose what’s right for your facilities, and how to keep your loading dock levelers in proper working condition.


What Kinds of Loading Dock Levelers Are There?

Dock levelers are normally fixed to the loading dock shelf while some extend into the dock pit.

Many common levelers are recessed and include:

  • Manually controlled loading dock levers that use mechanical springs, chains, pulleys and levers. These are incredibly dependable but require manual functionality to operate and can be more difficult to maintain.
  • Hydraulic dock levelers which are most common for businesses needing to meet fast-paced demands. Using a power source, hydraulic cylinders operate the plate and lip and can be used for a variety of functions with relatively low maintenance.
  • Air-powered loading dock levelers use a power source with an air dock system (usually an air pump) to operate the leveler.
  • Vertical dock levelers are stored vertically to save space and they keep your internal environment highly-efficient and secure.

Other types:

  • Edge of Dock (EOD) levelers are designed for trailer beds that sit near the floor of the of the dock level and have a limited range. They are generally mounted on the exterior wall that opens to the warehouse dock or to the dock pit. These units tend to be powered and use hydraulics or air, but some are mechanical.
  • Roll-Off Stop Lip levelers have an attached “stop lip” to provide an extra safety measure with a lip standing at the dock’s edge to prevent falls.
  • Rail Dock levelers are designed to receive rail cars and can be manual or powered (normally they are hydraulic).
  • Truck levelers are not actually dock levelers. Instead, they realign the position of the trailer bed when a dock leveler can’t create the necessary bridge, due to extreme height differences.


Choosing the Right Dock Levelers and Maintaining Them

A professional loading dock and door specialist can help you select the perfect dock levelers for your facilities.

They will help you create a plan to implement the right type or types of dock levelers based on:

  • Load weight specifications
  • Load height specifications
  • Load frequency specifications
  • Trailer bed specifications
  • Internal equipment and staff operations
  • Efficiency needs
  • Safety
  • More!

If you have existing load dock levelers that are experiencing malfunctions like motor failure or components are worn or damaged, work with dock leveler experts to have necessary repairs or maintenance provided.

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Your Dock Leveler Maintenance, Repair, and Replacement Team

At Gem Dock & Door, we have been a trusted partner to companies with loading dock leveler needs for more than 30 years.

Our skilled team of technicians are fully stocked with the tools and capabilities to provide your facilities with maintenance, repair, and replacement of loading dock levelers, including emergency services that are available 24/7/365.

With loading dock levelers so critical to your success, we want to ensure you have what you need to remain productive. If you require professional assistance, contact us today for more information and request a free estimate to get started.