Freight 101 Library

What is Liftgate Delivery: Meaning, Shipping and Service

Dylan Sommer

If you’re importing or exporting freight, your goods will need to travel the world by air or sea. But they will also almost certainly need to be moved by truck at some point: to get from your supplier to the origin port, from the destination port to your warehouse, or other steps along the way.

Moving goods by truck means that someone has to physically get them on and off at either end of the journey.

While this seems like a small and obvious detail, planning for it in advance will save you time and money.

So how are goods moved on and off trucks?

Some buildings are equipped with loading docks. These are designated stations that are either part of the building or attached to the building where goods can be easily loaded or unloaded from trucks.

When there’s no loading dock, a small piece of equipment called a liftgate moves cargo up to the truck’s height or back down to the ground.

How do you know if you need a liftgate, how do you get one, and how much do they cost?

Read on to find out.

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What is a liftgate?

A liftgate is a movable platform attached to the rear of freight trailers or trucks. It allows goods to be loaded and unloaded when there is no loading dock.

You might need liftgate pickup at your origin or liftgate delivery at your destination, or both.

Why is a liftgate service essential?

While you can load and unload goods onto trucks manually, freight is often heavy. That means that relying on someone to load or unload it manually can lead to injury, damaged goods, and even legal trouble if an accident occurs at a factory or warehouse site.

Liftgates allow delivery teams to load and unload goods mechanically. This reduces injuries and accidents, and saves time, money, and resources.

How does liftgate delivery work?

A liftgate truck is usually operated using hydraulic pressure. The movements of the liftgate are controlled by a switch box through a human operator. Some trucks have two or more liftgate plates that slide over the other to increase the platform area for freight loading and unloading.

Here’s how a liftgate delivery service works:

During cargo loading: the liftgate is lowered to the ground. The freight is moved onto the liftgate using a pallet jack manually or forklift. After loading, the liftgate is retracted and folded parallel to the back of the truck.

During cargo unloading: the liftgate is extended outwards. Freight is moved onto the liftgate using a pallet jack or workforce. It is lowered, and the goods are unloaded at the destination.

Do I need a liftgate delivery service?

Typically, you’ll need a liftgate whenever you’re transporting freight by truck and no loading dock is available.

Here are some situations where a liftgate is necessary:

  • When a factory or warehouse doesn’t have a loading dock

Some smaller facilities may not have loading docks. In that case, if freight packages weigh more than 150 lbs (68 kg) each, a liftgate is required to avoid damage to cargo or injury to workers.

  • When transporting to commercial or construction sites

If you’re delivering to commercial or construction sites, be sure to arrange trucking with liftgate services. That’s because these sites lack loading and unloading facilities. In addition, large quantities of goods are delivered to these sites – which increase the chances of errors and accidents if freight is unloaded manually.

  • When delivering to homes or offices

Most homes and offices do not have equipment to unload freight. Shipments like furniture, electronics, or anything large will require a delivery truck with a liftgate.

Check in advance to see if you need a liftgate. That way, you and your forwarder can plan for one and avoid the extra charge of having to get one unexpectedly.

Are there liftgate delivery fees?

Yes. Liftgate delivery fees apply whenever you use liftgate services.

Liftgate delivery fees include the use of liftgates, pallet jacks, or forklifts for loading and unloading.

Although liftgate charges are technically considered extra freight charges, they are often required – not to mention a worthwhile expense for heavy, precious, or fragile cargo. Planning a liftgate in advance will help avoid delays and high costs.

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