Hydraulic vs. Mechanical Dock Levelers

Posted in Materials Handling

The difference between a hydraulic and mechanical dock leveler is obvious on the surface – the hydraulic leveler works automatically with the push of a button, while the mechanical leveler is activated with a pull chain.

The most important is the cost of ownership. A hydraulic dock leveler probably will cost as much as 10 percent more upfront than a mechanical leveler.

However, the higher cost of hydraulic levelers is mitigated by the fact that they tend to last longer than the mechanical levelers.

Some more differences:

A hydraulic dock leveler:

•    Is started by a simple push of a button.
•    The push-button controls raise the leveler and extend the lip.
•    As the buttons are released, the platform then floats down to the trailer floor.
•    A hydraulic dock leveler tends to operate in a range between 12 inches below and 12 inches above the level of the dock.
•    Normal operation doesn’t require pulling a chain.
•    When loading is complete, the operator pushes a button to return the leveler to its stored position. (An automatic return also can be programmed.)
•    Hydraulic dock levelers are ergonomically efficient and easier on workers because there is no bending and chain pulling, resulting in a lowered chance of injury.
•    The hydraulic leveler has one motor, two cylinders and hoses.

Hydraulic dock levelers are ergonomically efficient and easier on workers because there is no bending and chain pulling, resulting in a lowered chance of injury.

A mechanical dock leveler;

•    Is spring-powered, requiring manual activation.
•    It must be positioned onto a trailer by first pulling a chain (at the leveler’s rear) which sets the “hold down” system free, letting the platform rise and the lip extend.
•    The operator then must walk onto the platform and use his bodyweight to lower the leveler onto the trailer bed.
•    Should the trailer be below dock height, the operator then has to pull a second chain (this one near the leveler’s front) in order to retract the support legs. This allows the platform to travel below the deck.
•    The ergonomics of a mechanical dock leveler is less efficient than a hydraulic dock leveler.
•    The mechanical dock leveler has springs, hold downs, lip latches and more moving parts, parts which are consistently under pressure, requiring more frequent replacement, particularly of the leveler’s springs.
•    In addition, the mechanical’s springs are heat/cold sensitive – expanding in the heat of summer and contracting in the cold of winter – requiring consistent adjustment as a result.

To learn more about whether a hydraulic or mechanical dock leveler is right for you, contact our dock leveler experts today.

Koke Incorporated

Koke Incorporated