Glossary of Loading Dock Terms

This section lists and defines terms (i.e. equipment and asset names, operating methods and conditions) used frequently in the loading dock industry.

Cross-Docking: The process of moving cargo from the dock into or out of truck / trailer. The deployed dock leveler acts as a bridge for both pedestrian and forklift traffic.

Deck Beams: Structural support beams that run the length of the deck’s underside.

Deck Plate: The top steel plate that covers the deck beams.

Dock Bumpers: Pieces of molded or laminated rubber installed at the floor level of a loading bay to protect the wall from truck or trailer impact. Dock bumpers may also be steel-faced for added protection.

Dock Face: The outside wall of a loading bay.

Dock Leveler: A mechanical, hydraulic, or air-powered steel plate that can be raised and lowered to accommodate varying truck and trailer floor heights.

Dock Lift: A hydraulically-operated platform mainly used to load or unload cargo from trucks and transfer it to dock or ground level.

Dock Seal: A rubber or vinyl inflatable seal that extends from a dock face to close the gap between the loading dock and the truck / trailer entrance.

Dock Shelter: A rubber or vinyl shelter (may be rigid or retractable) that protects the space between the loading dock and the truck / trailer entrance from rain, snow, and debris entry.

Fixed Type: The dock lever is attached to the dock structure and usually incorporates a mechanism to help deploy and position the lip on the truck or trailer.

Fork Entry: The opening between a pallet's decks to admit forks.

Grade: Percentage of slope: vertical rise X 100%.

Industrial Trucks: Wheeled vehicles(may be powered manually, electrically, or by gas or propane)used to pick up, transport and deposit single loads.

Lift Tables: Ergonomic devices used to raise, lower or tilt work loads such as boxes and pallets, enabling the worker to access the load at an acceptable level.

Lip: A dock leveler extension that supports the unit on the truck or trailer bed and enables a smooth transition between the dock and the bed.

Loading Dock: The sorting or staging area where shipments are loaded or unloaded.

Loading Ramp: Synonym for dock leveler.

Manual Operation: Operating a dock leveler by the manual effort of the dock attendant (i.e. without any powered or mechanical assistance).

Material Handling:The movement, storage, and protection of goods, materials, and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal.

Mechanical Operation: Placement of a dock leveler in its operating position by non-powered means.

Narrow Aisle Truck: An industrial truck that allows right angle stacking in aisles narrower than those normally required by counterbalanced trucks.

Operating Range: The maximum vertical range of travel above or below dock level.

Order Picker: An industrial truck designed so that the stand-up cab portion moves up and down along with the load, allowing the operator to pick items directly from the storage area.

Pallet Truck: A manually powered fork truck used to move and position pallets.

Platform: The main structural body of a dock leveling device which is mounted at the building end to provide height compensation.

Powered Operation: Placement of a dock leveler in its operating position by hydraulic, pneumatic, or other externally supplied power.

Proper Use: When dock equipment is applied, installed, and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended instructions.

Run-Off Guard: A vertical projection running parallel with normal traffic flow at each side extremity of the dock leveler.

Toe Guard: A shield mounted to the side of a platform surface to provide toe protection when the dock leveler is above dock level.

Uncontrolled Drop: Unrestricted downward travel of a loaded platform.

Working Range: The recommended range of travel, above and below dock level, for which loading and unloading operations can take place.