Dock Plates and Dock Boards

Dock plates are meant for lighter use; dock boards are designed to hold much heavier weights and are better in heavy duty industrial and commercial applications. However, dock plates and dock boards look similar but designed with different levels of usage. Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Well, small and large operations alike have a need for lightweight, hand portable, dock ramps for use with hand carts and manual pallet jacks. Both are very different and often called by the wrong name. Choosing the correct SIZE and CAPACITY of equipment helps improve your dock operation. These factors are determined by length, width, height differential, and capacity. These dock ramps bridge a gap from the dock to the truck, overcoming both the gap distance as well as the height differential between the truck and the dock. Typically, dock boards are of heavier-duty construction than dock plates and allow for utilizing a forklift to load and unload a trailer.

If you would like to know more details about all pallet racking material and other material handling equipment to use in your warehouse.

Dock Plates And Dock Boards Information

Aluminum Dock Plate

3/8″ Thick
36″ Long x 36″ Wide / 48″ Long x 48″ Wide
Capacity = 2,500 lbs

  • Use with: Lighter equipment like hand carts, pallet jacks, and foot traffic
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: Usually lighter than dock boards
  • Handling: One or two people can carry them using built-in handles
  • Special Features: Legs to prevent the plate from shifting out of place
Dock Board Picture

Aluminum Dock Boards

48″Long x 60″Wide
Aluminum with steel side curbs
Capacity = 10,000 lbs

  • Use with: Heavy-duty machinery like forklifts
  • Material: Aluminum or Steel
  • Weight: Heavier, can be moved using a forklift
  • Handling: By forklift
  • Special Features: Carrying chain or cutouts, legs, curbs on both sides to prevent equipment run-offs and increase dock board strength

More Information about Dock Boards and Dock Plates

In a loading dock, one problem to overcome is the problem of bridging the gap between a truck and the dock or warehouse floor. Not all trucks are the same height, and the height of the trailer floor within a truck can vary according to how heavily the truck is laden. Thus there is not only a gap to bridge but a height difference to overcome. Various devices are employed in order to achieve this: dock plates, dock levelers, dock boards, and various forms of lift. These devices vary in construction, suitability to dock conditions, cost of installation, and loading capacity.

Dock plates and dock boards are simply metal ramps, bridging the gaps between dock and truck. Dock plates are generally made out of aluminum whilst dock boards are generally made out of steel. Aluminum dock plates are thus more suitable for lighter loads, such as handcarts and dollies, whereas steel dock boards are more suitable for heavier motorized equipment such as forklift trucks and electric pallet trucks. Another difference between dock plates and dock boards, in addition to their load-bearing capabilities, is their construction. Dock plates are simple flat plates, whereas dock boards have curbs, bolted or welded to the edge of the board.

Dock boards provide loading and unloading capabilities in heavy-duty applications and bridge any gaps that can be a safety concern. They offer ease when using forklifts and other material handling equipment. Dock boards come in steel, aluminum with bolt-on steel curbs, and aluminum with welded curbs. They are best specified by an expert who can take all aspects of your application into consideration. Dock boards can handle heavy capacities and have sides (or curbs) that prevent runoff.
Dock plates are very much like dock boards but don’t have curbs. Dock Plates are rectangles of steel or aluminum with some type of locking leg and either hand hole or handles to move them. Plates are NEVER for power equipment. These are used to bridge a gap from one area to another in material handling operation. However, unlike dock boards, dock plates are a flat piece of metal with a slight bend for an easy transition. Dock plates come in either steel or aluminum and can handle light capacities. Interestingly, the extra capacity that dock boards are able to achieve comes from the structural addition of curbs.