So you’ve finally decided to get into the box truck delivery business and now it’s time to research the equipment needed to get the job accomplished. One very important decision is figuring out which type of lift gate will work best for your needs. With medium duty box trucks, the tuck away lift gate and the rail lift gate are most common. Let’s assess which lift is the correct tool for your application.
What is a lift gate exactly? A lift gate is a mechanism used to raise or lower goods to and from the rear deck of a box truck. Lift gates are powered by a hydraulic pump, cylinder and electric motor. These are constructed of either steel or aluminum and can range in size and weight capacities.
Those familiar with the rail lift gate either love it or hate it. Some delivery companies couldn’t function without these while others see the rail lift as a barrier to productivity. The key characteristic of a rail lift is that when not in use, the lifting platform is folded against the back of your cargo box truck. When put into service, the lift deck is then folded down into place where it travels straight up and down as it is being used.
Fans of the rail lift gate will boast that its deck size affords more loading space than a tuck under lift gate. Also noted is that rail lift platforms remain as level as the truck it’s mounted to and is therefore the safer method of loading. When not in use and folded against the back door of your delivery truck, the rail gate also provides an element of security from thieves. Those who do not appreciate the rail lift gates’ characteristics however, will complain that the gate must be operated every time cargo is accessed. This can have a negative effect on the overall speed of daily delivery. Rail lift gates can also be an issue when attempting to load the cargo area by fork lift. Pallet jacks also have issue with the rail lift deck on account of its steep approach ramp.
Tuck under lift gates, on the other hand, have a much larger following in the truck transportation industry. The name gives it all away. The tuck under lift gates’ key characteristic is that while not in use, it tucks under the rear of your box truck. When put into service, the tuck away lift gate is lowered and then unfolded to make its deck space accessible. At this point, its deck simultaneously travels up and toward the back of the cargo area.
Proponents of the tuck away lift gate find its’ most significant value in that the deck remains out of the way until needed. The tuck under gate also provides the most versatility when loading by fork lift or from a dock. Tuck gate users also benefit from several available options that are generally not found on rail lifts. A zero angle approach, for example, allow for pallet jacks and dollies to load with more ease. Cart stops are another useful option that prevents cargo from rolling off the deck. The tuck under lift gate also has a few draw backs. Its main detractor is that the deck is not level during approach to the raised position. Most tuck under lift gates also have a smaller deck size compared to its rival. (Lift gate manufactures offer a “level ride” option and larger deck sizes to overcome these issues. However, these options are noticeably more expensive and limited by your vehicle specifications). Another detractor of the tuck gate is that a user has to bend over and manually fold and unfold the deck. This increases the potential risk of back injury over time.
In summary, both the rail lift gate and the tuck under lift gate are valuable pieces of equipment in the truck transportation industry. Weather you’re a mover of household goods or engaged in door to door delivery, how and what you deliver needs to be analyzed. The size and weight of your cargo is an important factor. Where you load and unload coupled with the frequency of each stop also can’t be ignored. Neither lift gate will be a perfect solution for every job. But by closely examining their respective characteristics, you can significantly impact both productivity and profit of your box truck delivery business.
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