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Hydraulic Versus Mechanical Dock Levelers

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Loading Dock Levelers Portland

The two most common types of dock levelers are hydraulic and mechanical, with each having their own set of pros and cons to offer. Understanding both types of dock levelers can go a long way in helping you determine which is best suited for your facility.

What Is The Difference Between These Levelers?

First off, what is the difference between hydraulic and mechanical dock levelers? A hydraulic dock leveler works automatically and is activated by the push of a button, whereas a mechanical dock leveler uses a spring system to lift leveler usually by manually pulling a chain in the base. As you can probably guess, the hydraulic leveler is the costlier option of the two over its mechanical counterpart. However, the question here is, what are you getting for the additional cost?

Understanding Hydraulic & Mechanical Dock Levelers


Yes, hydraulic dock levelers will cost you more upfront than mechanical dock levelers, but if you consider the maintenance costs of the latter, you will find that the hydraulic option delivers more value for your money. As the operator releases the buttons, the leveler conveniently descends downwards on the trailer floor.

Once finished, the leveler can be restored to its standard position by simply pushing a button. Since everything on a hydraulic dock leveler is push-button controlled, it proves to be more ergonomic and easier on the workers than a mechanical one.


When it comes to mechanical dock levelers, they are spring-powered and hence they require manual effort for activation. The operator has to position the leveler onto the trailer by setting the hold-down system free and pulling a chain, which in turn lets the leveler’s platform extend. They can then walk onto it and use their weight to lower the leveler in line with the trailed bed.

Mechanical dock levelers are comprised of lip-latches, springs, hold-downs and other moving parts. Since these parts are mostly under pressure, they tend to require replacements every now and then.

Bottom Line: Which One Should You Choose?

The amount of daily use it will get and your budget, are the two main factors that will probably go into your decision. With so many different models available for each type, it is best to consult a material handling expert that can help you decide which type and model is best for you.