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Posted by Stephanie on March 11, 2024

Forklift ramps have long played a critical role in industrial operations. These ramps allow forklifts to move seamlessly between various levels of distribution centers, warehouses, and loading docks.

Manually unloading and loading a trailer is time-consuming and costly. In addition to paying more for loading and unloading operations, you must contend with the higher risk of damage to goods and personnel. Forklift ramps solve all these issues. You’ll be able to save time and money while increasing safety in your facility. 

If you’re adding new equipment or systems to your warehouse, you should understand the economics of forklift ramps and why they benefit most facilities. This guide will teach you about the safety, impact, and best practices of forklift ramps.

Yard Ramp with Forklift Unloading from back of Container or Dry Van.

Economic Impact of Forklift Ramps

The economic impact of forklift ramps over the years depends on the industry. Around 4.5 million people operate forklifts in the U.S. alone, and these machines are used in over 300 separate industries. Portable ramps bridge the gap between containers and forklifts when loading and unloading items. 

The leading companies in the market include Copperloy, Jinan Juxin Machinery Co., Industrial Toolz, Dura-Ramp, and Bluff Manufacturing. Recent data from the forklift ramp industry indicates that the global market had a value of $2.47 billion in 2022. This industry’s estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 4.7% from 2022 to 2032. By 2032, the industry could be worth just over $3.9 billion. 

When looking specifically at the top three countries within the forklift ramp industry, it’s believed that they held around 28-30% of this market at the beginning of 2023. The three most prominent countries in the industry include North America, China, and Japan. Because of the high valuation for this industry, it’s clear that forklift ramps have a substantial economic impact on the industries they’re used in. The sectors that benefit from forklift ramps the most include the following:

  • Warehousing and distribution
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Railyards

Based on solid performances from aluminum and steel manufacturing companies, oil and gas, and construction industries, the portable loading ramps market is expected to grow in the coming decade. The market is primarily segmented into six specific regions, which include:

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • Europe
  • East Asia
  • South Asia & Pacific
  • Middle East and Africa

The estimated growth of each region depends on various factors. For example, Japan and China are East Asia’s leading consumers of forklift ramps. Together, these two countries held around 18% of the market in 2021. By 2032, it’s anticipated that the Asia-Pacific region will experience an increase in retail centers, distribution centers, and warehouses, which will help drive the consistent growth that’s set to occur within the forklift ramp market. The construction and automotive industries will primarily benefit from forklift ramps in China and Japan. 

3 Dock Boards for Forklift Use loaded on Truck

Europe should have the largest share of the market in the coming decade. The European Commission maintains strict regulations regarding material handling, which means that companies across many industries must use forklifts to handle heavier items. Because of these regulations, Europe should continue holding a significant market share. 

For most of Europe, numerous automaker production facilities partially explain why the region will continue to have a sizable portion of the forklift ramp market. Since many popular automakers are based out of Europe, numerous auto component suppliers are also in the region, meaning more warehouses are needed. 

These ramps are used almost exclusively to support the loading and unloading of goods, which indicates that the market’s health depends on the economy’s state. When the economy is doing well, and goods are being purchased without issue, forklift ramps will be in high demand to ensure that items are efficiently delivered. There’s a positive correlation between forklift ramp usage and economic growth that shouldn’t be overlooked

Safety Concerns and Costs

While forklift ramps are widely used throughout distribution centers and warehouses, some safety concerns and costs are associated with these systems. Even though these ramps have a positive economic impact, their safety hazards can increase corporate and personal expenses. For example, let’s say that a worker becomes injured while loading or unloading goods on a forklift ramp. Because of the injury, the worker may miss days or weeks of work, which is costly for themselves and their employer.

In 2018, more than 300 workers were injured in Texas during forklift incidents. Over 25% of the injured workers stayed in the hospital for over a month. Five of these injuries proved fatal. 

Several different types of accidents can occur on forklift ramps. If drivers don’t need to survey their surroundings correctly, they might collide with something or someone. Tip-overs are also common when a forklift is being operated at an incline. The personnel in your facility must adhere to proper safety measures to reduce costs and mitigate risks. 

Best Practices for Forklift Ramp Safety

You should integrate some best practices into your operations to minimize injuries. For example, ensure all forklift drivers have been trained and authorized to operate these vehicles. Even if an item only needs to be moved 10 feet, an employee must handle the task with the proper authorization. Re-authorize your forklift operators once every three years

Equipment should always be manually inspected before being operated. Keep a written checklist on site that your personnel can reference when looking for forklift problems. If an employee detects damage, they should immediately report the issue to management. When forklifts need to be repaired, remove them from service immediately. 

Every forklift comes with a capacity plate. The data recorded on this plate includes information like forklift load capacity, fuel type, and weight. If you need more clarification on how much a load weighs, pay close attention to what happens when an employee lifts it. The heaviest part of the load should be kept close to the driver. Loads should always be tilted back before being lowered, moved, or raised. The lifting capacity of this type of machinery can decrease if the load is lifted with fork extenders. 

Forklift on Yard Ramp connected to a loading dock

One of the leading causes of forklift injuries and fatalities is vehicle overturning. Drivers should always wear a seat belt while the forklift is operational. If you use a sit-down forklift in your facility that doesn’t have a seat belt, you can add one if the vehicle has an overhead guard. When a tip-over occurs, a seat belt can keep the forklift driver from being crushed by the roll cage or overhead guard.

Ensure every employee in your facility wears personal protective equipment (PPE). This equipment includes glasses, safety shoes, hard hats, and high-visibility clothing. It’s not easy for forklift operators to see everything happening around them. By requiring your employees to wear PPE, you should be able to reduce the risk of injuries. Ensure the forklift drivers you employ to maintain a speed similar to a moderately quick walk. Turns should also be taken slowly to decrease the chances of tipping.

The load should be on the high side when driving on a ramp. As the forklift travels up the ramp, the horn should be sounded. Make sure that horns are also used in obstructed areas and cross aisles. Employees can avoid tip-overs by waiting to turn until they get off the ramp. 

All personnel within your warehouse must also monitor clearances when loading and unloading items. Depending on the height of the ceiling and anything in the way, the forklift could encounter an obstruction when being raised. 

Employees should know how to look for overhead obstructions, including everything from sprinkler pipes to lights. A load should only be lowered or raised while traveling if the action is meant to clear an obstacle. In this scenario, the forklift should come to a complete stop before the load is raised or lowered. 

You can also keep your personnel safe by ensuring that forklift operators never give rides to other workers. People can only be lifted in an adequately secured lift cage.

Conclusion

Forklift ramps are directly tied to the economy. When the forklift ramp market is booming, companies from hundreds of industries require these ramps to complete loading and unloading activities. If you decide to use forklift ramps in your warehouse or distribution center, it’s crucial that you immediately implement safety measures to reduce costs and improve efficiency. You can prioritize safety by investing in proper training and equipment maintenance.

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