Pentalift Blog - Safety Equipment

What is Auto Return on a dock leveler?

Auto Return is only available on hydraulic dock levelers. When the truck is backed into position and the trailer doors are open the dock attendant cycles the dock leveler. The dock leveler deck raises, the lip extends, the dock leveler is then lowered and the extended lip is positioned on the truck bed. When the truck is loaded / unloaded typically the dock attendant would cycle the dock leveler into the closed, stored position. If there is no dock attendant available the truck driver departs, the dock leveler deck and extended lip lowers to the bottom position. The hydraulic lip begins to retract and an under deck electric limit switch is then activated. The dock leveler deck automatically raises approximately 6” – 8” above the dock height, the lift motor timer shuts off and the dock leveler returns to the stored position. When the truck departed the dock leveler was automatically returned to the closed, stored position.

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What are the advantages of a vertical storing dock leveler?

Although vertical storing dock levelers are initially more expensive they can actually be more cost effective in the long run depending on the application. Vertical storing dock levelers are more energy efficient because when they are in the stored position with the overhead door closed the chance of energy loss is minimized. Vertical storing dock levelers also reduce the risk of vermin entry which is very important in any food industry. Dock seals definitely help eliminate energy loss but cannot eliminate the gaps that surround the platform of conventional pit installed dock equipment, this concern is eliminated by choosing vertical storing dock levelers. As standard vertical storing dock levelers are available in capacities ranging from 25,000 lbs to 50,000 lbs.

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Why do higher capacity lift tables require a higher HP power unit?

Technically they don’t require a higher HP power unit to operate but almost every time they are specified. A lift table power unit consists of 5 primary components, electric motor, hydraulic pump, hydraulic valve, oil reservoir and a control station. As lift tables increase in lifting capacity more cylinders are used in the structural design to lift the load. Additional lift cylinders increase the volume of hydraulic oil required to operate the lift table. To provide a suitable lift speed a larger volume hydraulic pump is required to increase the oil flow rate to the lift cylinders. To drive the larger volume pump a higher HP electric motor is required. For example a 20,000 lb capacity lift table with a 3 HP power unit takes approximately 121 seconds to lift 59”. The same lift table equipped with a 10 HP power unit takes approximately 25 seconds to lift 59”. Higher HP power units drive higher volume pumps which increases lift speed.

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What to Look for When Purchasing a Dock Lift.

When selecting a dock lift, you want to make sure you find the most appropriate one for your application. The 5 main things to look for when choosing a dock lift would be whether the equipment is going to be floor mounted or pit installed, platform dimensions, what the lifting and roll over capacities will be, bridge lengths and what voltage will be offered to the dock lift at the place of installation. The manufacturer needs to know whether the equipment is going to be pit installed or placed on the floor so that the correct safety features can be incorporated. The manufacturer must also know what platform size and the required capacity of the equipment to ensure safe and stable use in the work area. A dock lift manufacturer must also know the distance a truck will be from the dock lift when loading and unloading, to ensure the correct bridges are equipped for safe and sturdy use. A manufacturer must also know the available supply voltage to ensure the right power unit is equipped for the dock lift. While there may be additional detail questions, most dock equipment manufactures will be able to supply at least a concept and budget price once they have the above information.

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What is Considered to be a High Cycle Lift Table Application?

The majority of lift tables are designed to be cycled 8 times per hour during an 8 hour shift, 5 days a week. In an application that needs more cycles than the standard amount, lift tables are recommended to be equipped with a high cycle package. A high cycle package consists of cam followers in place of leg rollers, spherical bearings in place of bushings, and often equipped with a central lubrication system. In addition to these components, high cycle lift tables are often specified with a continuous running power unit. A continuous running power unit is a power unit that keeps the motor running even when the lift table is not in use which eliminates any jog starting of the power unit resulting in pre mature wear.

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