What is Lift Gate Service?
Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is an essential component of the logistics market. It is what enables carriers to bring shipments the last mile from the transport hub to the final destination. Oftentimes, that final destination is a home, apartment, hotel, hospital, or construction site that does not have full-service facilities like a loading dock or a forklift. In these situations, lift gate service is not only invaluable but often necessary.
So what is a lift gate?
A lift gate is a hydraulic platform that is attached to the back of a truck. It allows goods to be raised or lowered from ground level to or from the truck without the use of manpower or a forklift. Lift gate service is generally a service all its own so it usually incurs an additional fee, priced depending on local supply and demand for the service.
Who Needs Lift Gate Service?
To be honest, lift gates can come in quite handy for many different kinds of shipments.
However, lift gate service is especially useful for less than truckload shipments. Since some LTL shipments are more likely to go to locations without a loading dock or forklift available, lift gates become an invaluable asset. Lift gates are also very helpful for deliveries to construction sites, where large or heavy shipments must be delivered directly to the site that does not have an official loading dock. While smaller packages can be unloaded by hand, a lift gate is crucial for large and heavy items and oddly shaped goods not loaded onto standard LTL pallets.
Lift gate service is often offered as an addition to last mile delivery or white glove services as well.
Having said that, lift gate service is not only beneficial to customers and the carrier’s bottom-line. By equipping drivers with this one tool, carriers help reduce strain and potential injuries to their workers.
How Does a Lift Gate Work?
Manufacturers provide lift gates for all sizes of vehicles, even as small as pickups, vans, and light utility trucks. The size of the lift gate must match the vehicle, typically ranging from 80 to 89 inches in width and 30 to 70 inches in depth. A small truck is 96 inches in width, and will use an 80-83 inch lift gate. Full size, 53 foot van trailers are 102 inches wide and can handle the larger 89 inch width lift gates.
For LTL shipping you should install a lift gate large enough to load and unload a full 40 x 48 inch pallet.
Lift gates typically have a weight capacity from 1500 to 3500 lbs. Generally, a larger capacity lift gate will be installed on larger trucks, and a smaller capacity gate installed on smaller vehicles. For LTL deliveries, a 2500 lb. capacity lift gate is the best bet. This will match the capacity of the pallets, which are also built to handle between 2000 and 2500 lbs.
Installation and Use
When installing a lift gate, the bumper, hitch, and tailgate hardware is removed. Mounting brackets are then fixed to the truck in order to add the lift gate. The lift gate is powered by the truck’s battery, so it must be wired in. Hydraulic fluid levels will then need to be checked, and the lift gate must be tested to ensure everything is working properly and according to specifications.
When using a lift gate, the truck engine should be on, and set in park. The lift gate will have a power switch (often installed in the cab), which is then turned on.
After checking that the area behind the truck is clear, and the safety chain has been removed, the latch holding the lift gate in place is released by a lever.
Lift gate control switches send the platform up or down. The operator will need to stand to the side of the platform and and lower to lift gate to the ground with the switch before opening the platform. Do not unfold the platform while operating the control switch.
Once the lift gate is on the ground, the operator unfolds the platform so that the entire gate is now open and resting on the ground. When unloading with the lift gate, the gate must then be raised back up, the truck door opened, and goods moved to the lift gate. The operator then lowers the lift gate back down to the ground for unloading.
A pallet jack is a useful addition to lift gate service. Just remember that the pallet jack itself can weigh up to 300 pounds, so take this into account when loading or unloading heavy goods so as not to put too much strain on the lift gate hydraulics.
Need Help With Lift Gate Service?
The Redwood team can help you navigate your lift gate service needs for LTL or any mode. Connect with the Redwood freight management team today.