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Dock Board Selection Guide

Dock Board Selection Guidelines

Safety is the first issue when choosing your dock board or dock plate.  Always make sure you are using a dockboard or dockplate designed to work for your loading environment.

Dock Board Capacity

  • Equipment lifting capacity is used to suggest an ideal dock board capacity
  • If three  wheeled equipment is used, increase the capacity to the next higher capacity
  • If the dockboard is used more than One Shift a day (8 hours), it should be increased to the next capacity level

Dock Board Width

  • The dock board should be at least 12" wider than the widest equipment's wheel base

Dock Board Length

  • Gas powered forklifts have a different clearance height compared to electric and non motorized equipment like pallet jacks.
  • Knowing your docks differential is key to determining the required length (difference between dock height and trailer bed height)

Dock Board Capacity

First it is important to know a dock boards capacity should take into consideration product weight, equipment and operator weight, in addition live load factor (Inertia). To simplify this we use a simple formula.

4x the carrying capacity for four wheeled equipment
3x the carrying capacity of 3 wheeled equipment

Example: A 5,000 lb capacity towmotor or forklift would require
4 Wheels: 15,000 lbs Capacity Board
3 Wheels: 20,000 lbs. Capacity Board

Insufficient capacity is a serious problem that severely reduces the life of your dock board, putting your equipment and personnel at risk. When determining the capacity you need consider the equipment types used and overall period of daily use.

  • Match your equipment capacity rating to the increments on the bottom (x-axis)
  • Follow the line up until you intersect with the block corresponding to the equipment type(s).
  • Then follow the line to the left (Y-axis) to determine your recommended capacity.
  • Note: operations exceeding 8 hours a day should increase their board capacity to the next level.


  • Stackers and other narrow aisle loaders should not be used on a dock board.
  • Paper roll clamp and multi-shift loading add 5,000 pounds to the board capacity.
  • Capacity rated for single-shift operation at a 3 mile per hour maximum rate of travel.

Dock Board Width

For ease of use dock board width selection should be based on material to be loaded, end loading of trailers, and equipment types. Generally, the board should be 12" wider then the equipment used on it; however for improved end loading you may consider moving up to a wider board to avoid repositioning once in place.

Dock Board length

As a rule of thumb your dock board should maintain a grade percentage that matches the equipment used. For electric and manual equipment the board should not exceed a grade of 14%. This ensures electric forklifts will operate more efficiently while also enabling equipment with lower clearances to cross the ramp without catching. Facilities with a gas powered forklifts have the option of using greater degrees of grade; reaching up to 19%. To use the chart below first determine what your greatest differential will be; this should be a true measurement taken on your loading dock.

To ensure your dock board provides a sufficient grade for your equipment, Measure the greatest difference between dock and truck height to determine differential.

  • Match your greatest Differential to the increments on the left (Y-axis)
  • Follow the line across until you intersect with the block corresponding to your equipment type.
  • From there follow the line down to the Recommended board length.

To ensure your dock board provides a sufficient grade for your equipment, Measure the greatest difference between dock and truck height to determine differential.

Dock Height (D) - Truck/Trailer Bed Height (T) = Differential

Note: If refrigerated or container trailers are serviced at your location, you will need to request the legs moved back 4" to accommodate the lip on the trailer. Available at no extra charge.

Typical Trailer heights
Freight Line Trailer 46" - 56"
Flatbed Trailers 50" - 60"
Bob Tail Trailers 46" - 48"
Containers 56" - 62"
Refrigerated Trailers 50" - 60"
  • Match your greatest Differential to the increments on the left (Y-axis)
  • Follow the line across until you intersect with the block corresponding to your equipment type.
  • From there follow the line down to the Recommended board length.

Example: if your height differential is 7" the model 15T6048 dock board would work for Gas Forklift use, however at this height a 48" board length would have a slope greater than 14% so it would not accommodate all other equipment types. If you plan on using a pallet truck or other equipment in addition to Gas Forklifts, you would need to move up to a dock board that provides 14% slope at that differential.

Note: Loading below the level of your loading dock is not recommended under any circumstance, if your trucks are coming in below the dock level wheel risers are suggested.


It is critical the proper dock board or dock plate capacity is selected for your operation. Using a board/plate that does not meet the manufacturer recommendations leads to premature dishing and potential damage to equipment. When selecting capacity of a ramp it is important to note what type of equipment will be in use. Keep in mind any future uses you may have so your selection best meets your current and future needs.

Note: Dock Plates are not designed for use with forklifts or other types of motorized equipment.

Quick Ship Dock Boards

Another issue could be how fast it can be brought to your door. In fact yesterday might be to late! We have a partial solution for that. Its called just being a state away! Ok, maybe two states. A Standard Dock plate or Dock board is one that fits many different size and weight capacities. These standard sizes are warehoused in seven different locations across the United States, and are almost always ready to be shipped the next day after the order is taken. Shipping is drastically reduced on these items because of their location, and often you will get a better dock board for the money spent by upgrading to a Standard Board size.

Need help choosing the right product for your application?  
Give us a call at 1-800-741-1258

Choosing the correct SIZE and CAPACITY of equipment helps improve your dock operation.  The following guidelines will help you determine what equipment best suits your individual needs.

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Please note that dockboards can be ordered in many other sizes. The models above are available for next day shipment. See top left of page for all models. Custom sizes available on request.

Height Chart
14% Grade 19% Grade Board Length
2" 3" 30"
3" 5" 36"
4" 6" 42"
5" 7" 48"
6" 8" 54"
7" 9" 60"
8" 10" 66"
8 1/2" 11" 72"
9" 12" 78"
10" 13" 84"
11" 14" 90"
12" 15" 96"
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Loading Dock Equipment
October 31, 2019

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