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What’s the Difference Between Dock Plates & Dock Boards?

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Dock plates and dock boards look similar, but as designed with different levels of usage. Dock plates are meant for lighter use; dock boards are designed to hold much heavier weights and are better in heavy duty industrial and commercial applications. Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Dock Plates

Dock Plates

  • Use with: Lighter equipment like hand carts, pallet jacks and foot traffic
  • Construction: Aluminum
  • Weight: Usually lighter than dock boards
  • How to Transport: One or two people can carry them using built-in handles
  • Special Features: Legs to prevent the plate from shifting out of place
Dock Boards

Dock Boards

  • Use with: Heavy-duty machinery like forklifts
  • Construction: Aluminum or steel
  • Weight: Heavier, can be moved using a forklift
  • How to Transport: By forklift
  • Special Features: Carrying chain or cutouts, legs, curbs on both sides to prevent equipment run-offs and increase dock board strength

What are the Similarities?

Both dock plates and dock boards have a common feature – they usually come with legs that prevent the plate from popping shifting once it’s been placed between the dock and the truck. Never try to use a dock plate or dock board with the legs on the ground because they are not designed to support weight; they are there as a failsafe. Putting weight on the legs can cause them to bend or warp! Both are designed with a traction surface to prevent slipping in wet conditions. This surface can either be manufactured directly into the metal, such as diamond plate, or added separately, such as high-traction grit coating. Another common feature for both dock plates and boards is hi-visibility markings, usually along the edges.

  • Both have legs that prevent the plate from popping shifting once it’s been placed between the dock and the truck
  • Designed with a traction surface to prevent slipping in wet conditions
  • High Visibility Markings

How do I Choose Which One is Best for my Facility?

Think about the equipment your team uses on a daily basis, as well as your work environment. If you are moving pallets from a dock to a truck with a pallet jack, a dock board is probably sufficient because it will have a weight capacity within your working range. If you know that sometimes you’ll need to load a heavier pallet using a forklift, then definitely invest in a dock board since it can be used in both scenarios and will be able to handle the heavier weight capacities.