Yard Ramp Reliability

Assuming good design and proper manufacture, coupled with proper use by the operator, then yard ramps should last almost indefinitely without needing much attention. However, in the real world this ideal situation very rarely happens.

Occasionally some yard ramp manufacturers do come up with design modifications which have not been well engineered, or they skimp on areas of the construction to save costs. Unfortunately in the long term it is the user that usually picks up the bill for this, as it just reflects in a shorter working life and a greater maintenance cost and downtime for the user. In contrast there are many examples of ramps of traditional proven design from established manufacturers being in service for very long periods without requiring any attention at all.

Given the very high return on investment that using yard ramps for container unloading provides, then it probably makes little sense to make a purchase decision based merely on the lowest initial price, without considering if the lower price is the result of skimped design or manufacture. The economics of using container ramps is such that the consequential cost of not having a ramp available for use due to reliability issues can be more expensive than the initial cost of buying the ramp in the first place. 

The hydraulically operated height adjustment systems used in some yard ramps introduce reliability issues of their own. In some cases this may not be a significant issue at all, but in others it is well known to be a major and costly problem.

Without a doubt the greatest impact on yard ramp reliability is the manner in which they are used. No matter how well designed on manufactured they are, an operator who is determined to test a ramp to destruction can usually do so. Operators should be educated not to see it as a personal challenge to see how fast they can tow a yard ramp over rough ground and how deep a pothole, or how high a kerb it can be bounced over at speed.

Yard ramps are built to a specified design capacity and it is important to always work well within the stated capacity. The shock impact loads resulting from an over enthusiastic forklift driver mounting a ramp at too high a speed can be much greater than expected. Equally it is necessary to consider that some porous loads can be a lot heavier than expected if they have been left outside in the rain for some time. For maximum reliability it is probably better to choose a standard 10T. capacity ramp rather than a light duty 7T. model, even if the expected loads are always expected to be within 7T. The cost difference between the ramps is very small, and yet the effect on improved reliability is very significant.

With ramps that experience a lot of heavy use there can be some deterioration in the decking surface after a long period of use. After a few years it cam sometimes be necessary to have the decking surface replaced, but fortunately this is a quick and easy job to do. 

Depending upon the yard surface and how frequently or roughly a ramp is towed, there can eventually be some deterioration in the tyres used on the wheels. In Europe most use solid tyres, although in North America, some makers provide inflatable pneumatic tyres. Again these are easy an inexpensive to replace, should it even become necessary. 

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