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Jack Plate

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Jack Plate

Dock plates are similar in design to dockboards and work as bridges between the surface of an elevated loading dock and the back of a truck trailer. However, dock plates are designed for much different material handling tools that are dock boards. Dockboards are heavy duty loading ramps that are usually made from steel. They are designed for forklift and other motorized vehicle traffic to and from the surface of an elevated dock. Dock plates are made from aluminum and are much more lightweight, portable, and easy for one person to setup. Their primary function is to provide a ramp for non-powered material handling equipment such as pallet jacks, hand trucks, platform trucks, and dollies. Some can support weights of up to 12,000 pounds, but they are still only to be used with manual equipment Under no circumstances ever use one with a forklift or motorized vehicle of any type.

Dock plates are much lighter than dock boards because they are made from diamond deck aluminum. The diamond pattern on the surface of the metal helps prevent water, oil, debris, and snow from piling up on the plate. It provides excellent traction for both work boots and pallet jack wheels, and makes the unit a great deal sturdier. Aluminum dock plates are easy for one person to handle because of their light weight. For manual positioning, it is best to use an EZ-Roll to wheel the plate into place. When positioning a dock plate with a forklift, Easy Rack recommends using safety chains that wrap around the unit and allow it to be lifted, moved, and lowered into place. Locking legs hold the unit in position so it does not slip.

To determine the correct weight capacity, add the weight of the material handling device to the maximum load carried. Find a dock plate whose weight capacity exceeds this amount. This is a common sense precaution against possible overloading on the part of workers in a hurry. People do not always pay attention to how much they stack on a hand truck or pallet jack, so it is always a good idea to use a dock plate that is stronger than what is apparently needed.

To calculate dock plate width, add 8" to the total overall width of the load and equipment. For example, the most common sized pallet is 48" L X 40" W. Adding 8" to the width determines dock plate size to be 48". This calculation works with both hand trucks and pallet jacks regardless of the materials loaded. Length calculation is a bit more complicated. Every dock plate has what is called a "maximum height differential" that reflects the difference between the maximum height of the loading dock and the truck floor. The shorter the board, the more limited its applications because it can only connect trucks to docks of certain heights. The longer the board, the greater the number of dock applications it can be used for.

Most material handling vendors carry two classifications of aluminum dock plates and can obtain steel dock plates as well. Used aluminum models can save companies up to 40% on their purchase cost. Specialists will assist companies with any necessary calculations to select a model with the best capacity and most appropriate dimensions for the job.

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