Dock plates and dock boards are simply metal ramps, bridging the gaps between dock and truck. Dock plates are generally made out of aluminium whilst dock boards are generally made out of steel. Aluminium dock plates are suitable for lighter loads, such as handtruck and dollies. Steel dock boards are more suitable for heavier motorized equipment such as fork lift 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, dock boards have curbs, bolted or welded to the edge of the board.Run-off is prevented by a simple painted yellow strip along the edge of a dock plate, whereas it is the curbs (also generally painted yellow) that prevent run-off on dock boards; these curbs are also where the higher weight capacities of dock boards come from.
Dock levelers are, fixed to the dock. They comprise a simple metal plate, called a lip that is raised from a stowed position and then lowered onto the back of the truck. They are operated either manually, via a simple pull chain, or hydraulically, with an electric pump driving a piston to lift the plate.
The most common form of dock leveler is the recessed, or pit, dock leveler. As the name suggests, this type of leveler is contained in a recess, or pit, beneath the dock door and floor surface. Dock levelers are stronger than dock plates and have similar ranges to dock boards, making them suitable not only for motorized fork lift trucks but also for master conveyors (for which neither dock plates or dock boards are suitable). NOTE: edge of dock levelers have fixed positions which have restricted ranges making them unsutuable for nonstandard dock heights.