Lift Gates 101: Know Your Options
A lift gate can easily make-or-break a truck’s functionality. It serves the purpose of safely and efficiently loading and unloading cargo, which means it has to be reliable, slip resistant, fast to unfold and put away.
On top of all that, your lift gate must be configured in a way that makes sense for your specific business. Here’s an overview of the three most common lift gate types along with some key considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when making your decision on which one to use.
Types of Lift Gates
Tuck-Under, Cantilever, and Rail-Lift are the three most common types of lift gates. Each one has its own specific use, so it’s worth reviewing the pros and cons of each.
Tuck-Under Lift Gates
A tuck-under lift gate is meant to stay out of your way until you need to engage it. As the name implies, a tuck-under lift gate tucks right under and away from the cargo entrance, allowing for you to back up vehicles to loading docks without a lift gate getting in the way. You’ll have full access to the cargo doors as if there was no lift gate at all.
Standard models will be level between the bed and the ground and eventually tilt slightly to form a ramp, allowing for the easy rolling and removal of pallets and other cargo. Tuck-Under Lift Gates are very popular, especially for dock height trucks that may not always need a lift gate for loading and unloading.
Cantilever Lift Gates
A cantilever lift gate allows you to keep your cargo level during the loading and unloading process regardless of the terrain. A cantilever lift gate has a very large platform, which allows you to load from the back or sides. To keep things even, the operator can easily adjust the tilt of the platform as necessary.
These lift gates are less labor intensive because there is no manual folding or unfolding of the platform. They usually come with remote controls to power up and down like a draw bridge for convenience. These lifts come pallet compatible and cart friendly thanks to special design options like cart stops, so there’s no need to fuss.
Like the other lift gate designs covered here, rail-lift gates have their own specific applications where they perform best. These lift gates lay flat against the rear of the body when not in use. When engaged, they provide a large and level platform for optimal stability. They’re ideal for loading and unloading bulky and heavy items on the street.
The level ride cycle stays aligned with the truck bed during use, keeping things level thanks to the straight up-and-down movement. The biggest drawback of a rail-lift gate is that they will cover a portion of the rear doorway when not engaged. However, you can lower them straight down to gain access to the doorway without fully engaging the lift gate.
Considerations To Keep In Mind
When selecting a lift gate, you’ll want to consider these key factors.
First off, if you are going to be using a pallet jack, cart, or dolly of any kind, you’ll want to make sure the system is fully compatible with that based on its size and configuration.
Tuck-under lift gates, for example, provide a slight tilt when the arms reach the ground in order to roll things on and off. Rail-lift gates, on the other hand, provide a completely flat surface from the bed to the ground. When in doubt, ask whether it’s a “level ride” platform (which stays level with the truck bed throughout the entire raising and lowering process) or “standard ride” platform (which tilts slightly towards the ground to form the ramp).
You’ll also want to consider the weight capacity of the lift gate and its overall dimensions to ensure it is compatible with your cargo. Remember, when determining the capacity for your lift gate, it’s not just about your cargo. You may have 1,500 pounds of cargo, but how much does your pallet jack, driver, second handler, and anything else weigh that may be on the lift gate? Add everything up and allow for additional weight when in doubt. Keep in mind that an electric pallet jack can weigh up to 350 pounds all on its own, so run the numbers to avoid problems.
Looking For More?
Have questions about lift gates? In need of a reliable lift gate-equipped vehicle for your job? Stop by any of Suppose U Drive’s three locations or give us a call for assistance.