Dependent on operating conditions and frequency of use dock levelers have a life expectancy of 10 – 25 years; eventually the time will come to replace the dock leveler.  Selecting a sufficient dock leveler capacity is the key factor in determining the life span of the dock leveler.

The initial inspection to begin the replacement process should start with evaluating the condition of the dock leveler pit.

When the pit was first constructed typically a 4 piece steel curb angle set was attached to the forms. The 4 piece steel pit curb angle consists of a top back section, 2 side pieces and a bottom front section. A 6 piece curb angle set is also available. In addition to the referenced 4 pieces there are also 2 sections of steel curb angle that are poured vertically into the front of the pit side walls. The curb angles have lag anchors that extend into the liquid concrete during pit construction. The anchors secure the curb angle in its location.

Check to confirm that the existing steel curb angle is securely imbedded in the concrete, especially the rear curb angle. Also confirm that the curb angle has not significantly corroded or deteriorated. The replacement dock leveler will be welded to the front and rear curb angle and for this reason it’s very important that the curb angle continues to be securely imbedded in the concrete and still structurally sound.

Carefully measure the width, length and depth of the existing pit, measure the pit depth at both the front and the back of the pit. It is important that the pit be cleaned prior to any measurements being taken to provide accurate pit dimensions.

It is also important to check the condition of the concrete on the foundation wall where the dock bumpers are installed. After years of reversing trucks backing into the dock bumpers and exerting high impacts it is important to confirm that the concrete behind the dock bumpers is intact and will permit the suitable installation of replacement dock bumpers at the time the dock leveler is replaced.

When the pit dimensions have been confirmed its time to discuss the application requirements with the building Owner to confirm the correct replacement dock leveler is recommended.

Now is a good time to discuss the capacity requirements of the replacement dock leveler. The rule of thumb when determining dock leveler capacity is to take the total maximum weight of the fully loaded lift truck that will drive across the dock leveler deck assembly and multiply this weight by a factor of 2.5 to determine the minimum dock leveler rated capacity. For higher frequency use application the factor should be increased. When determining capacity, consideration should also be given to future requirements that may warrant an increased capacity.

This link leads to Understanding Dock Leveler Capacity.

Another topic of discussion relates to the existing dock leveler lip length. Determine if the performance of the dock leveler could be improved by lengthening the existing lip length on the replacement dock leveler. Consideration should be given to the fact that increasing the dock levelers lip length reduces the dock levelers range of height to reach and service truck beds that are higher than the loading dock floor.

If the original dock leveler to be replaced is mechanically operated there may be merit in also quoting both a replacement pneumatic and hydraulic operated dock leveler. Converting from mechanical to either pneumatic or hydraulic operation makes a significant difference in the ease of operation for the dock attendant. It also reduces maintenance required.  Consideration must be given to how the power supply for the dock leveler is routed to the dock leveler pit.

It’s simply push a button and the deck assembly raises and the lip automatically extends, release the button and the platform with the extended lip lowers onto the truck bed.

For additional information on factors to consider when replacing a dock leveler or to receive information on any Pentalift product please contact the Pentalift Sales Department.