What is a yard ramp?
Yard ramps are designed for using a forklift to load and unload cargo from truck trailers, loading docks, platforms, rail cars, and more. Typical yard ramps are made of steel, have a weight capacity between 15,000 lbs and 30,000 lbs, wheels for mobility and setup (allowing it to be moved with a forklift), and a mechanism to raise and lower the loading surface. Similar to a standard loading dock, some can be permanently set up as with stationary support stands so that trucks can back up to them, and some may include hand rails that allow them to be used as walk ramps into and out of trailers.
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Standard Yard Ramps vs. “Level Off” Yard Ramps
The difference between a standard yard ramp and a level off yard ramp is that the level off yard ramp has a flat end which allows for greater maneuverability of forklifts, while a standard yard ramp has the same incline throughout the entire ramp. A level off ramp allows you to load a truck to full capacity, and can also help level the forklift before entering for safer loading. With the level off ramp you have a solid level surface on which to maneuver the forklift before beginning your descent down the ramp.
When it comes to deciding the specifications of a yard ramp for your needs, you need to know what weight capacity is required by determining the weight of the heaviest forklift that will be used on the ramp combined with the heaviest load the forklift will carry. The ramp you will need should have a weight capacity no less than the calculated combined weight.
You will also need to know the width of the widest equipment/cargo that will be used on the ramp. The right yard ramp should be at least 15" wider than the widest equipment/cargo. Take into consideration the straight ramp or level off design. This is completely dependent upon the loading/unloading application. See “Standard Yard Ramps vs. Level Off Yard Ramps” section above.
Note: If you plan on using a yard ramp on a rail car, measure the rail car door opening to make sure the ramp will fit and make sure the yard ramp is wide enough to prevent the forklift from hitting the curbs.
When using a yard ramp on a truck trailer always make sure the truck is stopped, the wheels are chocked, and the safety chains are attached before using the ramp. If your yard ramp with level off has drop legs beneath the level off, the drop legs must be extended in order to reduce strain on the hydraulic pump.