LODEM is a product council within MHIA. The Material Handling Institute of America. The Loading Dock Equipment Manufacturers (LODEM) members are the Industry’s leading suppliers of loading dock equipment. They supply solutions worldwide and in virtually every major manufacturing and distribution sector.

In the document created by this group titled WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW – DOCK LEVELERS , on page 7 states:

“The hydraulic option gives you more versatility than either mechanical or air dock levelers and typically would have lower service and maintenance costs.”

Pentalift hydraulic dock levelers provide a higher level of safety and performance over air powered dock levelers for about the same price.

Consider the following:

  • Hydraulic dock levelers are fully automatic: hydraulic lifting system and hydraulic lip.
  • Air powered dock levelers are semi automatic: air bag lifting mechanism and mechanical lip.
  • Hydraulic dock levelers use a velocity fuse for free fall protection. The velocity fuse does not affect the dock leveler’s use or normal function.
  • Air powered dock levelers use safety legs for free fall protection. Safety legs create “stump out” problems for dock levelers. “Stump out” occurs when a trailer bed’s height is below dock level and the safety legs hit their stops. This creates a situation in which only the dock leveler lip (not the dock leveler deck, as the safety legs will not allow the deck to travel downward) can travel with the bed of the trailer. During this condition, when a fork lift attempts to back out of the truck, a significant impact occurs to the dock leveler structure and to the fork lift driver due to the severe angle the dock leveler lip has been put into, due to the deck being blocked from going the required amount below level, by the safety legs. Health and safety issues and dock leveler damage issues result from impacts of this nature. See this link form more information regarding “stump-out”
  • Hydraulic dock levelers are available in a range of voltages which can be less expensive for electrical installation
  • Air powered levelers are available in 110 volt 1 phase which can be considerably more expensive for electrical installation for larger installations.
  • Hydraulic dock levelers have fewer parts and required less maintenance.
  • Air bag levelers have a large air bag and air bag supporting carriage underneath the dock levelers. Most loading dock leveler pits are a trap for dirt and debris that are naturally created in the environment. The air bag carriage acts as a trap for the debris. Debris with sharp edges or points (such as part of a broken pallet) can puncture and or damage the air bag and result in costly repairs.
  • The air bag leveler has a method for raising the carriage for cleaning around the air bag carriage. This cleaning is time consuming. If it is not completed puncture or damage to the air bag can result.
  • Hydraulic dock levelers require less cleaning. The hydraulic component design and orientation is significantly less susceptible to damage from dirt and debris found in the dock leveler pit. When cleaning of the pit is required the hydraulic components are far less intrusive in blocking the required cleaning.
  • Hydraulic dock levelers are available with more options. (Auto Return, Deck Stop, Higher Capacities, Longer deck lengths).

Conclusion: Hydraulic dock levelers out perform air powered dock levelers

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