Dock Leveler Evolution from Capacity to Performance Rating

Capacity is a long-standing concept that dates back to the 1900s with the early construction of bridges. Just as bridges span from point A to point B, loading dock levelers bridge the gap from the warehouse floor to the bed of the vehicle. So, when the first dock levelers were adopted at the loading dock in the 1950s, the industry naturally borrowed the capacity rating example set by bridges. However, over the past seven decades, the material handling industry has continued to review the dock leveler capacity standards to help ensure the safest product for the customer.

To help establish industry safety standards, such as ratings for dock leveler capacity, industry groups such as the Loading Dock Equipment Manufacturing Association (LODEM) partnered with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and America National Standard Institute (ANSI) set standards and continually review them over time. 

Product Safety Standards & Testing Certifications

One of LODEM’s key functions is to develop industry standards for material handling products that are in the customer’s best interest. Its members agree to design their products to this set standard. Just as material handling needs have evolved over time, this group gives the industry a unified voice that helps guide safety standards to meet the changing conditions.

In conjunction with these product standards, LODEM partners with ANSI to set testing standards, which verify that products are capable of meeting (or exceeding) the expected usage within the industry environments. ANSI dock leveler test standards were established in 1978 (Rational Analysis Capacity Ratings) and have been continually reviewed and improved to the ANSI MH30.1 -2015 standard of today.

A manufacturer must have a certified professional engineer perform a series of rigorous dock leveler tests to be certified . Once these standards are met, the product is awarded a written certification documentation . Since there is no recognized industry standard or rating for dock leveler capacity, it is important to understand your facility's needs and consider levelers that are certified to meet the required performance rating based on current and future needs.   

Product Credibility

When considering which dock leveler to purchase, it’s important to base product decisions on who you can trust. Companies that are active members of LODEM have been part of setting industry standards for material handling products and have agreed to design their products to said standard. It's important to calculate the appropriate dock leveler capacity for material handling applications. For example, purchasing a dock leveler with a performance rating below a facility’s capacity requirements can lead to various operational issues with dock levelers, leading to costly repairs, replacements, and downtime. Companies that have had their products tested and certified to meet ANSI MH30.1 -2015 have proven their designs meet their performance rating. By only considering products from these manufacturers, you are truly comparing apples to apples.

Rite-Hite is not only a member of LODEM and has multiple ANSI-certified products (including dock levelers) but translates its performance ratings into benefits for the customer. The Dock Leveler Investment Guide suggests a variety of alphabetical ratings, which are based on a collection of facility factors (this includes many of the facility factors Material Handling Institute (MHI) uses to calculate Dynamic Capacity). This in turn provides the best performance rating for the customer and backs that product with warranties ranging from 1 year to 20 years.

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