Hydraulic levellers are automatic and work at the push of a button. On the other hand, mechanical pit levellers are activated with a pull chain. However, there are more things that set the two types of levellers apart. If you’re not sure which one is best for your warehouse, the differences are listed below.

Activation and usage

The mechanical type of dock leveller is spring-powered and needs manpower to be activated. The machine needs to be positioned first onto a trailer or platform by pulling a chain found at the leveller’s rear. This sets the “hold down” system free so that the platform can rise and the lip can extend. Next, the operator must go back to the platform/trailer and use their strength to lower the leveller onto the bed. If the trailer is found below dock height, a second chain must be pulled to retract the machine’s support legs. On the contrary, hydraulic levellers are push-button activated and there is no chain pulling involved. The controls raise the leveller and extend the lip, and when the operator is done with the machine, another button returns the leveller to its stored position. You can also program the leveller to return automatically, saving you time.

Ergonomics and efficiency

When it comes to strain on your employees, mechanical levellers require more work. Hydraulic levellers are more ergonomically efficient since you don’t have to bend or pull to operate them. There is less chance of injury when using a hydraulic leveller because there is a physical component to its operation. Essentially, mechanical levellers will not work until you pull the chain. There is effort and physical strength needed from the operator to work the machine, whereas with a hydraulic leveler you simply push a button. In terms of efficiency, hydraulic levelers have one motor, two cylinders and hoses leading it to work quickly and effectively.

Cost and maintenance

Mechanical pit levellers are less expensive than their hydraulic counterparts but they require more maintenance. Hydraulic levellers also have a longer life because of their automatic operation and the maintenance is minimal. The mechanical dock leveller is made up of springs, hold-downs and lip latches that are always under pressure. They will need to be replaced often and the springs are sensitive to heat and cold requiring them to undergo adjustments.

If you’re looking for a machine that requires little maintenance and has longevity, the hydraulic units are probably the better choice.