What Is A Liftgate (And Does My Fleet Need One)?

What Is A Liftgate (And Does My Fleet Need One)?

Equipment Repair | Fleet Care | Fleet Maintenance | Transportation Conveniences | 08/01/2023
Written by Stacy Conner

Your team’s been dispatched for a job. There’s a ton of freight at the shipyard that need to be moved from pallets, and you’re not sure if the shipyard is equipped with loading docks or bays for loading and unloading.

What do you do: use a liftgate? Opt instead for a forklift? Haul the load in person? Tough questions don’t always have easy answers.

Equipment Experts, Inc. here: over the years, we’ve helped dozens of fleets navigate these challenging decisions. 

We’ll break down everything you need for your pickup and delivery needs by looking at what a liftgate is, the difference between a liftgate and forklift, and if your fleet could benefit from having a liftgate.

But before we dive into the meat and potatoes of these questions, let’s take a look at what a liftgate is, alternatives to using a liftgate, and how it’s most commonly used in the transportation and logistics industries.

What is a liftgate?

A man moving a parcel on a liftgate from the back of his semi truck

A liftgate refers to a piece of hydraulic- or electric-powered metal platform that mounts and is installed on the back of a commercial truck. The metal platform extends from the back of the truck and helps haul freight and pallets from the ground to the height of a truck’s tailgate (hence the name liftgate) — or from the tailgate to the ground.

Many liftgates come equipped with up and down switches, while others require manual crank levels for freight to be lifted or lowered from the truck’s tailgate to the ground (or from the ground to the tailgate).

A properly functioning liftgate can do wonders for a transportation team, as well as their customers. Liftgates help decrease the risk of injury and fatigue on the job, as well as increase productivity, allowing you to help earn your client’s trust, respect, and business.

Liftgates versus forklifts

A person moving pallets inside of a warehouse using a red forklift

The main difference between a liftgate and a forklift is related more to form than function.

Both lift gates and forklifts help raise and lower pallets, freight, and cargo using lift equipment. And both lifts tend to come equipped with a simple “up” or “down” function powered by a piece of equipment that unpacks unloaded or loaded goods.

However, liftgate-based delivery service involves a truck, whereas a forklift doesn’t require the back of a truck for operation. While freight carriers and truck drivers use both of these pieces of equipment to help lift heavy objects — like furniture and auto parts, for example — only lift gates are attached to the back or tailgate of the truck.

Depending on what you, your shipper, your truck, and how much gross vehicle weight your truck can hold, you may find liftgates to be a more economical option for your delivery and pickup needs.

How do liftgates work?

A liftgate fully lowered to the ground and attached to the back of a semi truck

Most liftgates operate using hydraulic or electric pressure to force a piston through a cylinder. The pressure or electric signals help raise and lower items from the gate via a switch box that helps move items to your desired location.

Wherever you choose to send your goods, liftgates tend to be most helpful for hauling loads that weigh 150 pounds or more. For example, liftgates are often used to help ship residential building materials from warehouse facilities or shipping docks to the comfort of your home.

You’ll want to make sure your liftgate receives plenty of tender loving care, as a liftgate bares the weight (literally) of many of your eCommerce and transportation needs.

Speaking of eCommerce, let’s take a look at a few different types of services for which liftgates come in handy.

Types of liftgate services

The following liftgate services are the most commonly used services for the fulfillment and shipment of goods up and down the supply chain.

Pick-up services

A worker looking at a tablet with brown boxes stacked in the back of his open semi truck.

Shipping items can get expensive quickly. Liftgates can be used to help pick up and transport goods via a truck or trailer.

Less-than-truckload (LTL) shippers and other companies often partner with repair companies that offer lift gates because picking up goods with a liftgate is cheaper than paying for expensive last-mile delivery, say, using USPS or FedEx.

At Equipment Experts, we’re there for our LTL drivers. We help repair heavy lift equipment for many of our partners to help them reduce the costs of delivery and pickup of precious cargo.

That way, you can focus on faster and more seamless transactions, one lift and haul at a time.

 Delivery services

A red medium-sized box truck in focus against a blurred background of dandelions on a freeway road

LTL truckers often use liftgates for local deliveries that don’t require intercontinental or transatlantic shipments. Whether you’re delivering to an industrial area or to someone’s home, we recommend consulting a third-party logistics trucking company to determine whether a lift gate can help you make your delivery seamless and smooth.

Does my fleet team need a liftgate?

An aerial photo of a fleet team crossing their arms with their arsenal of fleet trucks in the background

Many people often ask us, “If I have a forklift, do I need a liftgate?” The answer is: it depends.

Most of the time, liftgates are used by companies that have access to a forklift or shipping dock.

For example, if your business often receives frequent and sizable shipments, your business might benefit from purchasing or leasing a liftgate. If you notice you’re making many residential deliveries, a liftgate can help you protect products from damage when making last-mile deliveries to eager homeowners.

As another example, let’s say you’re in the construction or moving business. Many construction workers and movers find that hiring a liftgate works just as well. 

Ask your trusted equipment parts manufacturer or local repair shop about forklifts and lift gate services for hire (we rent out forklifts for many of our clients). Many repair facilities and businesses would be happy to give you a free quote for their services.

Better liftgate parts means better work

Whether you decide to purchase or rent a forklift or liftgate, we’ve got your back. For over 20 years, we’ve supplied, worked with, and advised partners for all their liftgate and fleet equipment needs.

If you need parts or repairs for your forklift or heavy equipment, don’t hesitate to contact us any time. You can come to us, or we’ll come to you. We offer mobile repair services if your lift equipment ever breaks down.

Whether you’re looking equipment that allows for more control over your shipment process, or are looking for a less physically taxing way to move goods, you can take back control of your fleet transportation and logistics needs with a handy liftgate.

And we can take you there. We’ll go the extra mile for you. Give the Experts a call today at (253) 999-9152, or email us sales@equipmentexpertsinc.com to hire out your next liftgate or schedule your next mobile or in-shop liftgate repair.

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