Dock Leveler Powerpacks - Make loading a cinch
By Vince Bagwell, 16 May 2013 –
Getting stuff in and out of lorries. Time is money, and you’ve got a lot of stuff to shift, deadlines to meet, deliveries to make, and traffic jams to negotiate. You just want to unload in the least possible time. A logistical nightmare – without a hydraulic solution, anyway!
To anyone who’s worked driving a lorry, or in a loading bay, the docking systems that transportation vehicles use are commonplace. Actually, to anyone who’s ever had a toy lorry as a kid, the systems are obvious, too. But to us they’re a finely tuned piece of hydraulic wizardry, which we love getting right.
It starts with a power pack unit, as most hydraulic systems do. The power pack acts on a panel which lifts up, or down, or both, to get into position alongside the loading bay so that the stuff onboard can be whipped off the lorry with ease. To picture it imagine a platform at the entrance (usually the back) of a lorry which gets into position on or against the loading bay to create a, sort of, runway out of the vehicle and directly into the warehouse. Along here you can slide things out, or run a forklift up to grab the palettes.
Getting a bit more technical, there are to versions. We call them a telescopic lip, or a swing lip. The swing lip is the one we’ve been talking about – a panel that ‘swings’ down into position. We have to note that ‘swing’ is a misleading word, because they lower down gently, instead of come crashing down (which would be a Health & Safety nightmare!). It’s the hydraulic system that resists gravity to place a swing lip more gently, and to get it back up again when you’re done. A telescopic lip is a bit more sci-fi. These don’t swing down from anywhere; instead they extend out to create a platform. You could say that one is vertical motion, and the other is horizontal, though, as we’ll explain, a telescopic lip can extend in any required direction!
Which brings us on to the next clever detail. Not every lorry or every loading bay has the same height. So if your lip had a fixed height, you’d be no better off, really. Stuck up a few feet above the loading bay platform wondering how to bridge the gap – no, that wouldn’t be ideal. So the hydraulics operating the lip not only have to lower and raise it, but get it to the correct height, as well. Swing lips do this easier, since they can pretty much go through a full 360 degrees of motion. But telescopic lips need to be able to, as well. Which is where it gets tricky. Why bother with telescopic, we hear you cry? A sliding, extending motion is useful when you don’t know how big a gap you need to extend across (from lorry to bay). To adjust the height, you need a telescopic lifting motion on top of that.
So while those are our two basic types of dock levelers, you can see that in certain circumstances a bit of both is often required. Lorries that unload materials by chutes will use a system that is a sliding deck type system with a telescopic height-variable motion. Lorries carrying furniture might use a lift system instead.
We supply a Bosch Rexroth 24v AC 1.1 Kw Dock Leveler power unit, which will perform the motions required for the majority of situations. The instructions for this system are free to download, and giving them a look will give you more idea what this system can do. If you need any further assistance, or have a more unique problem, speak to us for advice or a bespoke, expert solution!