Vertical Dock Levelers

What is a vertical dock leveler?

As its name suggests, a vertical dock leveler is a leveler that is stored vertically. They are ideal for warehouses that call for temperature-controlled environments, as they help preserve a building or warehouse’s internal temperature necessary for operations.

Vertical dock levelers are stored inside the warehouse walls, which allows the loading dock’s overhead doors to be shut securely and firmly. Thus, it dramatically reduces the chances of theft or break-ins and helps maintain and control internal building/warehouse temperatures.

Vertical dock levelers are preferred for warehouses that need to be kept clean or sanitized in addition to being climate-controlled. They are also optimal for trucks that may need to back up deeper into the loading dock since they allow the dock’s door to be opened completely.

Vertical dock levelers are generally shelf-mounted or pit-mounted, and they are powered and operated by a hydraulic system and its accompanying control buttons/remote.

Vertical dock leveler troubleshooting

If a vertical leveler starts acting up, consult the instruction manual, as it should provide plenty of resolutions for vertical dock leveler troubleshooting. Some of the most common issues that can disrupt a vertical leveler’s performances are:

  • The deck won’t raise/lower when its command button has been engaged, but the motor is still running.
  • The deck won’t raise when its command button is engaged, and the motor isn’t running, but the main power supply is connected and present.
  • The motor is trying to run properly, but the fuse trips/circuit breaker is blown.
  • The deck deployment is delayed after the action button is engaged (it is slow to move).
  • The deck rises only partially before stopping while the motor continues to run (usually accompanied by more noises than previously noticed).
  • The deck ceases to lower.
  • The deck doesn’t move when the action button is engaged.
  • The lip does not move in the correct direction.

Be sure to contact a licensed professional should any issues remain unresolved after consulting the vertical dock leveler’s instruction manual.

Vertical dock leveler maintenance

To operate and function properly, vertical dock leveler maintenance is a must. These levelers require a bit more meticulousness in their maintenance practices, but their compact and delightful performance capabilities make up for the heightened scrutiny.

As far as weekly maintenance goes, vertical dock levelers require complete cyclical operations to maintain their lubrication. The leveler itself should always hover about 15 inches above the dock. Weekly maintenance also includes the following actions:

  • Inspection of decals or other graphic identifiers (make sure they are readable and replaced if worn/illegible).
  • Inspection/cleaning of rear and lip hinge lines (to be inspected while the leveler below the docking position).
  • Clean the leveler’s pit.
  • Inspection of embedded concrete/steel.
  • Verification of the leveler’s rising and lowering operations.

Quarterly maintenance involves checking the fluid levels (with the leveler vertically stored and its lip tucked away). In addition, quarterly maintenance also involves:

  • Bumper inspection.
  • If applicable, an inspection of lights (inside and outside).
  • Inspection of junction box (to check for moisture or other damage that may impair electrical components/connections).
  • Inspection of hydraulics (fittings, hoses, power packs, cylinders, etc.).
  • Inspection of the control box/conduit.
  • Inspection of rod end cylinder pins, rod eye(s), and rod hardware.
  • Inspection of limit switch (to ensure it’s mounted securely).
  • Checking for cracks in welds.
  • Checking of solenoid coils/valves (in case there are any cracks/bends).
  • Debris removal from underneath the trunnion/prop weld and behind the rod eye.

Vertical dock levelers also require different types of lubrication for specific parts. For example, lip/hoist cylinder rod wipers, lip cylinder pins, storage prop pins, and platform and lip hinges (without grease fittings) should be lubricated with lightweight machine oil. For hoist cylinder grease fittings, lubricate with white lithium grease.

For annual maintenance, be sure to change the vertical dock leveler’s hydraulic oil. Depending on the operating environment, hydraulic oil changes may be needed more frequently.