A liftgate is a platform on the back of a box truck used for raising and lowering goods via a hydraulic system. They’re either constructed from steel or aluminum with a variety of sizes and weight capacities. They allow for safe and efficient loading and unloading of heavy cargo.
A crucial factor in a truck’s functionality, a liftgate is one of the most essential additional investments you could make for your truck. They increase productivity and reduce the manpower needed for loading and unloading. Generally, a good liftgate must be reliable, anti-slip, and quick to unfold and put away. Ultimately, their configuration must match the type of business you run. For that reason, you need to find a truck dealer in Oklahoma city that locals trust with their liftgate needs.
Below you’ll find an overview of four different types of liftgates along with the pros and cons of each to help you decide on the best one for your business.
The conventional liftgate is the most common type of liftgate and rests in an upright position when not engaged, up against the door of the truck body. Some models even serve as the main door to the truck body. They are mostly designed for general freight loading and are available with large platforms and have high lifting capacities. They are also less expensive compared to other liftgate types, but they lack the additional features of the other liftgate types in this list.
The tuck-away and tuck-under lifts required they be pulled out, lowered, or unfolded as deck space when you need to put them into service. When it’s not being used, you just tuck it under your truck, away from the cargo entrance, hence the name. This feature of the tuck-under liftgate is the reason why it is popular in the truck transportation industry.
Because they remain out of the way until needed, they are best for those who don’t always require a liftgate for loading and unloading in their day to day business operations. Many find that this type of rail gate offers the most versatility when loading from a dock, or by forklift or pallet jacks and dollies. Also, there are available options that tuck gate users can take advantage of, like cart stops for preventing cargo from rolling off the deck.
The drawback to this type of liftgate is that it’s not level during the approach to the raised position. They also have a smaller deck size. Moreover, when they’re needed, the user has to bend over and manually fold and unfold the deck, which poses risks of back injury over time.
A cantilever gate is a liftgate that you can adjust in any way you need to keep it level with the ground, which makes delivery possible even on extremely irregular surfaces. Regardless of terrain, a cantilever liftgate keeps cargo level during loading and unloading. It has a massive platform, allowing for easy loading from the back or sides.
It doesn’t require manual-folding or unfolding of platforms, as these liftgates usually come with remote controls, and they’re pallet compatible, and cart friendly. Their only possible disadvantage is that they may encounter clearance issues, especially when the truck chassis has rear fuel tanks.
Rail liftgates are best used for loading and unloading bulky and heavy items because of their large and level platform. Compared to a tuck under, rail liftgates have more loading space.
When engaged, the lift deck is folded down and travels straight up and down. Because of this straight up-and-down movement, they keep things level when engaged. This adds to the safety of loading and unloading.
One of the most significant disadvantages of this type of liftgate is that it lays flat against the rear doorway of the cargo box truck when it’s not being used. Yet, some still consider this as an advantage, providing an additional element of security from thieves.
Moreover, every time cargo needs to be accessed, you’d be forced to engage the rail liftgate even when you have nothing to load or unload. This can cause some delays in the speed of daily delivery. Some also complain about issues when attempting to load the cargo area by forklift. Because of its steep ramp, pallet jacks also encounter problems with loading.
Other Things You Need to Consider
Let’s go back to the type of business you run, and what your daily operations look like. Are you going to use pallet jacks, carts, or dolly? Whatever it is, make sure that the size and configuration of the liftgate match your usual cargo before you go to a box truck dealer.
Besides size and configuration, this is the most essential factor you need to consider. The weight capacity and the overall dimensions of the liftgate must be able to handle not just the cargo, but everything else that will be placed on the liftgate like pallet jacks, and people. Always have an additional weight allowance to avoid running into problems.
Load and Unload Locations
Take note of loading or unloading challenges that your delivery drivers face – whether it’s on a raised dock or ground level. If you need the versatility to load and unload from both dock and ground level, you need a liftgate that doesn’t block the rear of your box truck. If this is the case, a tuck under is best.
You also need to be aware of floor measurements, different widths, and heights. For example, a thin lift is not compatible with a wide vehicle, whereas a wide lift will not work on a narrower vehicle.
Aluminum or steel? Aluminum lasts longer, can lift more weight, and is excellent for heavy-duty purposes, but it is more expensive, whereas steel corrodes easier and has shorter lifespan but is cheaper and is probably the best choice for a business that’s just starting out.
A box truck with a liftgate can increase your business’ efficiency, while simultaneously decreasing the amount of physical strain on your crew with each delivery run. Now that you know the different liftgate types, you’ll be able to coordinate with commercial box truck dealers, and select the box truck with the right liftgate for your specific work-related needs, and will match your box truck perfectly.