If you manage a warehouse or distribution center, loading and unloading processes are a crucial part of the job. No matter the size of the items that are being taken in and out of your warehouse, it’s important that your personnel understand how to perform these actions in a safe and efficient manner. Without the right equipment in place, knee and back injuries could occur in many of your employees.
When items are being placed on a trailer, consider outfitting the trailer with a ramp. These ramps are often made with steel and aluminum, the latter of which is mainly used when the trailer is designed for more lightweight applications. If one of your employees attempts to lift this ramp without being trained in how to safely do so, there’s a higher risk of injury. It’s also possible that the ramp could slip out of their hands. Practicing safe loading and handling of trailer ramps is necessary if you want to maintain an efficient warehouse.
When you’re searching for the right ramp, there are several types that can be attached to trailers. While most of these ramps are manually operated, some use a hydraulic system. The following provides you with the ultimate guide on trailer ramps and how to safely use them.
Enhanced Loading and Unloading Efficiency
There are numerous advantages of adding a ramp to your truck or trailer, the primary of which is that it makes it simpler to load and unload heavy equipment that can’t be easily lifted. By adding a secure connection to the trailer, you’ll provide the ramp with more stability, which allows for quick and convenient access to the trailer. Once the ramp has been installed, you should notice that it takes less time and effort to perform loading tasks.
Improved Safety Measures
The right trailer ramps offer several safety benefits, the primary of which is that your personnel will have a stable and secure loading platform to work from. With this loading platform in place, slipping and falling accidents should be prevented. If the trailer doesn’t have a ramp, employees will likely be on uneven footing during the loading and unloading processes, which can lead to serious injuries from falls and slipping accidents. Trailer ramps minimize the risk of back injuries as well.
Versatility for Various Cargo Types
Trailer ramps give you better versatility for a wide range of different types of cargo. These ramps accommodate various shapes and sizes of cargo. If you use a ramp that’s built with a heavy-duty steel frame, you’ll be able to transport equipment, vehicles, and machinery without experiencing weight capacity issues. Consider selecting an adjustable ramp to provide yourself and your personnel with more customizable loading configurations.
Options for Different Ramp Types
There are five different types of ramps you can choose for your trailer, which include:
- Plate ends – Basic and adaptable
- Hook ends – Secure connection with trailer rub rails
- Hybrid ends – Versatile mounting options
- Pin-on ends – Ultimate stability with trailer modification
- Roller ends – Convenient for car-hauling semi-trailers
Plate end ramps are outfitted with a small and flat plate at the end that’s situated directly on the trailer. Even though these ramps are the most basic ones, they can be placed on nearly every trailer. To make sure that the ramp doesn’t move or kick out while items are being loaded, you’ll need to strap the ramp securely to the trailer.
Hook-end ramps are ones that are equipped with a hook at the end, which makes it easy for these ramps to be locked to the trailer sides or rub rails. If your trailer doesn’t consist of a mounting point, there are attaching systems available that you can use on your trailer. Once the attaching system has been installed, the hook end can be connected to it. These ramps offer a better and more secure connection in comparison to plate end ramps.
A hybrid-end ramp provides users with a combo hook and plate design. If your trailer has a mounting point or the necessary accessory, it’s possible to hook the ramp to the trailer. This same ramp includes a plate that you can use in the event that your trailer doesn’t come with a mounting point.
Ramps that have pin-on ends offer a highly secure connection. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to modify your trailer before you use this type of ramp. Specialized attaching brackets are required to be bolted or welded directly to the trailer, after which you can place the ramp end on the bracket channel. From here, you can securely lock the ramp with a metal pin. Since these ramps are secured with pins, you don’t need to strap them to your trailer before using them.
Roller ends are specifically designed to be used when you are car-hauling semi-trailers. These ramps are equipped with wheel-ends that make it easy for them to be slid into the storage pockets that should be present on the trailer. Now that you know which types of ramps are available, you should have all the information you need to make the right purchasing decision for your company.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Trailer Ramps
Before you make a final decision on which trailer ramp to choose, there are numerous factors you should consider. For instance, you’ll need to determine if your trailer is compatible with the ramp that you’re thinking about buying. As mentioned previously, some trailers don’t have a mounting point, which means that certain ramps aren’t suitable. Weight capacity is also highly important. If you intend on taking large pieces of equipment and machinery up the ramp, it should have a high weight capacity and steel construction.
Make sure you also consider the ease of the ramp installation and removal. Ramps should be easy to install. In most cases, ramps with hook, plate, and hybrid ends are simple to install and remove when necessary. While pin-on ends come with a more challenging installation process, the advantages of this type of ramp may outweigh the lengthier installation.
The longevity and durability of the ramp materials are additional considerations to keep in mind. Most trailer ramps are made from either steel or aluminum, the former of which is the heavier and more stable metal. While aluminum offers some advantages, it’s easier to dent and might not hold up under excess weight. Steel ramps should last longer.
To ensure your personnel are safe while they load and unload items, look for a ramp that offers safety features. While there are several safety features to select from, the best options available to you include support bars and non-slip surfaces. With a non-slip surface, your employees should be able to load bulkier items without the fear of slipping.
While you’re searching for the best ramp, consider the ramp’s cost-effectiveness and return on investment. Let’s say that your facility only stores and transports relatively small items that don’t weigh much. In this situation, it may be best for you to select a more basic ramp that’s made from aluminum. Buying an expensive heavy-duty ramp when you don’t need one will lead to a poor return on investment.
Maintenance and Care for Trailer Ramps
While trailer ramps are designed to last for many years, you should perform regular maintenance and care to avoid a shortened lifespan. First, make sure you consistently inspect the ramp for any signs of wear or damage. If a heavy item was dropped on the ramp, you might need to have the ramp repaired. Any moving parts in the ramp should also be cleaned and lubricated to ensure they remain in good working condition.
During an inspection, you might notice one or more worn-out components. These components should immediately be replaced or repaired. When the ramp isn’t being used, don’t leave it attached to the trailer. Instead, properly store it to avoid damage or misplacement.
Safety Tips for Operating Trailer Ramps
Even though trailer ramps are meant to improve the safety and efficiency of loading and unloading processes, it’s important to operate them correctly. Your employees should perform proper lifting techniques to prevent back strain while they move items from one location to another. Make sure that the loading area is always free of hazards and obstacles, which will prevent tripping and falling.
You can keep your ramp secure by attaching it to the trailer with brackets or safety straps. Every member of your loading team should receive extensive training and should know how to properly communicate while they’re working. Keep in mind that training isn’t a one-time thing. All loading team members should receive regular training as well as refreshers on ramp operation safety.
When your trailer is equipped with any type or size of ramp, you’ll be able to safely and more efficiently load all types of items. These ramps are also highly versatile, which allows you to move nearly every item onto the trailer without experiencing problems. Make sure, however, that you choose the right ramp type for your trailer and cargo needs. If you routinely load vehicles onto trailers, you shouldn’t purchase an aluminum ramp with a relatively low weight capacity. Once you’ve bought your preferred ramp, perform proper maintenance and safety practices to extend the ramp’s longevity.