You have some cargo, a flatbed to transport it on, and a destination. No problems, right? Experienced flatbed truckers know that their profession isn’t as simple as it may seem from the outside. For massive pieces of cargo, it can be very troublesome to even load onto a flatbed for transportation. This is where Trailer Loading Ramps come in handy and play a pivotal role in the transportation of cargo and equipment. In its most basic form, a ramp is a tool used to transport items up/down an elevated point more efficiently and safely.
Basic physics tells us it’s easier to roll an item up a ramp than to lift it straight into the air. Rolling an object onto a ramp spreads its mass across a larger, stable surface area, and the inclined plane makes it far easier to load a heavy object or piece of equipment onto an open trailer than to simply lift it straight up. The lower your angle of descent is the easier rolling the object up the ramp will be. However, the same efficiency features that make loading ramps so attractive can also be their downfall.
How to Use Trailer Loading Ramps
If you do not know how to use a trailer loading ramp correctly, it can backfire and cause more harm than good. Here is everything you need to know to use trailer loading ramps to your advantage when loading cargo.
1. Setting up Your Ramps
Heavy Duty Trailer Ramps have several components and accessories that make them so useful. You should know how each aspect of a ramp for a flatbed truck works and how to use them to your advantage. To set up the ramp, you’ll want to start by placing the ramp stand firmly on the ground, and on a level surface. The stands support the ramp so it’s crucial they are placed on a solid foundation. Next you’ll move on the aluminum ramps. They can be stored under the trailer using ramp hangers so they are out of the way when not in use. Remove the ramps from the ramp hangers under the flatbed. Place them on the stands and secure them using the built in pins. Most ramp stands adjust from 18” to 24”. Trailer Loading Ramps have an aluminum surface that grips to the cargo.
2. A Level Surface
You should always use a trailer ramp on a level, even surface. Make sure your trailer deck is parallel to the ground, and the ramps legs are firmly planted into the ground. Working on a level surface will help prevent any cargo from tipping back or falling from the sides of the ramp. It may also ease loading if your ramp is at a slightly higher elevation than the trailer wheels.
3. Lower Angles are Best
Lifting something straight up in the air translates to lifting it up at 90° (a perfect right angle) and it is the most inefficient, hardest way to load cargo onto a trailer. The lower the angle of ascent from the ground to the trailer, the better. Keep your ramps at the lowest angle possible and it will decrease the risk of accidents and take less effort than a high angle ramp. Ramps are made to make our work more efficient, and a low angle will maximize efficiency and safety.
4. Send the Drive Wheels First
Heavy duty trailer ramps are often used to load vehicles and motorized equipment onto a trailer. Vehicles can be very expensive and must be loaded up the car trailer ramp carefully. One helpful tip to avoid accidents is to send the drive wheels up the ramp first. On an all wheel drive vehicle, it does not matter which way you drive up the vehicle, because all four wheels are pulling the vehicle along. However, on a two wheel drive vehicle, it is crucial to send the drive wheels up the ramp first. If your drive wheels are in the front, load the vehicle forward. If the drive wheels are in the back, you should reverse the vehicle up the ramp. If the drive wheels are in the back while the vehicle is being driven up the ramp, they are working to push the vehicle up, and the two wheels in the back create a pivot point. Too steep an incline or too much power to the engine could flip the vehicle backward. If the drive wheels are always sent first, they work to pull the vehicle up, removing the dangerous pivot point and removing the chance of the vehicle flipping over.
5. Ensure the Ramp is Stable
Even if you send your drive wheels first, there is still a possibility an accident could occur. When any piece of equipment first touches down on the trailer, but the majority of its weight still lays on the ramp, it is inherently unstable. This instability can be countered by ensuring your ramp is stable on the ground. You must also ensure your ramp is securely fastened to the trailer.
6. Using Ramps as a Load Leveler
While ramps main purpose is moving cargo onto a flatbed, they can also be used as a load leveler. If your flatbed has a raised platform, it can be troublesome to load large pieces of cargo onto it. Ramps can be used to raise the height of your trailer and haul extremely long pieces of cargo. The ramps are simply placed onto the back of the flatbed and placed across lengthwise. Then you can use a lumber clip to attach 2×5 pieces of plywood on top of the ramps. Secure the ramps using chains and binder. Now you can haul long pieces of cargo onto your trailer.
Ramps have been used for thousands of years to safely move cargo up or down an elevated surface. Today, the most sophisticated, well crafted ramps are available. Trailer loading ramps make hauling trucking, large vehicles and other cargo easier, faster, and most importantly safely. Now that you know the ins and outs of flatbed ramps, and various safety tips, you can use these skills and ramps to be a better, more efficient flatbed trucker.