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What to Know About Liftgates

Identifying the right liftgate model for your application can be a daunting task when you consider the number of vehicle configurations that are available today. To help find that perfect match, a few questions must first be answered.

What will the liftgate be lifting?

Knowing what will be lifted is the first step in determining what lifting capacity, platform size, and additional options are required. This first step is critical in narrowing down the numerous options that are available, but often other factors restrict compatibility even further.

When determining lift capacity, the general rule of thumb is to round up, and quite generously. The total sum of weight that will be put onto the platform must also be considered. For instance, a transporter may have a 1200lb object that they will be moving but once that object goes on top of a pallet jack and is then moved, that could easily add 200 more lbs.  Now the weighted total is at 1400lbs, but the original lifting capacity was 1500lbs. This is a situation where you round up the 1500lbs to 2000 lbs. to accommodate for the weight more appropriately.

Required lifting capacity will also greatly affect the types of liftgates a user will want to look at. Consider if the liftgate will only ever be lifting 700 lbs, then that user will have a wider range of lifts to choose from than if the necessary capacity is 1800 lbs.

Platform Size

Platform sizes have been traditionally listed as width x depth.  Since the platform width is generally dictated by the width of the vehicle, the optional size is primarily “loading depth”. Many styles of liftgates offer varying degrees of depth.

When determining the necessary area needed, make sure to account for all variables. For instance, the load width may be listed at 85 inches wide but if the model is equipped with a self-close arm, the true width may only be 82-83 inches where the arm is located.

Platform Material

Many liftgate manufacturers offer multiple variations of platform materials to suit various applications. Haulers of spillable liquids will need a material that allows liquid to pass through and operators working in a highly corrosive area will need a platform resistant to corrosion.

Will the vehicle need to load or unload at a raised dock?

Many operators face the challenge of needing to unload and unload at a raised dock and at ground level. Various liftgate styles solve this problem in various ways. Tuck under lifts store beneath the bed of the vehicle to never interfere with the rear of the truck approaching a dock. Certain models can offer a “drop-down” folding platform to a non-obstructive position. In some scenarios the truck owner’s bed height may be lower than the height of the dock, these situations require a rail gate model with an “above bed” option.

What Are the Vehicle Dimensions and Specifications?

Vehicle specifications will also dictate which liftgate models are appropriate. Among other considerations, body width and bed height are also important factors in the selection process.

Body Width

Straight trucks come in standardized widths ranging from 102 inches down to 80 inches wide. Since most liftgate model charts are sorted by body width, this is a crucial dimension to know before making your selection of liftgate.

Body Height

The truck’s bed height is another important dimension.

The first reason is most liftgate models have a maximum range of travel. This “travel” of a liftgate dictates how far the platform may be raised or lowered. Therefore, if the bed height of the vehicle is greater than the maximum travel of the liftgate, they are most likely not compatible.

Another factor that bed height affects is clearance. If an operator is looking to have a Tuckunder lift installed, then the vehicle must have a bed height tall enough to allow for the liftgate to lower, fold, and store underneath.

There is an abundance of variations of liftgates available for flatbed, stake, and van bodies. Truck owners should look for a liftgate that fits their vehicle and is suited for the job at hand.

For more information, contact Fallsway Equipment today!

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