LTL Shipping: Lift Gate Service

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Lift gate service is extremely useful for shippers that do not have a traditional loading doc or forklift needed to get their LTL freight into trailer. While this service is very useful, it is not without limitations. Read this article to learn things you should consider when selecting a lift gate service.

In this article we will answer these questions:

What is a lift gate?
How does a lift gate work?
What is lift gate service?
How much does lift gate service cost?
When is it needed?
What are the dimensions of a lift gate?
How much weight can a lift gate hold?
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What is a lift gate?
A lift gate is a hydraulic freight elevator that is used to lift items between the trailer and the ground.

How does a lift gate work?
The gate typically starts in a folded position tucked under or against the back of the truck. The driver will lower it down and unfold it to create the lifting platform. Once the platform is level with the ground the driver will use a button on the rear of the truck to raise and lower the platform. Typically the bed of the truck is anywhere from 38 to 54 inches from the ground.

What is lift gate service in LTL shipping?
Lift gate service is a service offered by many LTL carriers. This is a paid service where the carrier will send a truck that has a lift gate. Carriers charge for this service for the following reasons:

Not all trucks come equipped with lift gates so the truck necessary for this kind of service is considered a specialized truck.
Lift gate service often requires more work by the driver. The driver must use his pallet jack to retrieve the freight and lower it to the ground with the lift gate.
This service can also be called different things. Often people familiar with freight shipping will lump it into a type of pickup location assuming that that type of pickup comes with lift gate service.

How much does lift gate service cost?
Lift gate service typically comes with a service charge of $50 to $150 dollars. Sometimes it can be more or less. It varies by carrier and even by market with different carriers. It often depends on the supply and demand of lift gate equipped trucks in the area.

When is lift gate service needed?
In LTL shipping it is the responsibility of the shipper or consignee to load and unload their freight from the freight truck. In cases where the shipper or consignee doesn’t have a loading dock, forklift or some other way of loading their freight onto the truck, they can request a lift gate service. Here are some common places where a lift gate is needed. Some of these will require a separate fee generally referred to a limited access fee or non-commercial fee. Click each link to learn more.

Business warehouse without a loading dock or forklift
Residential pickup or delivery
Jobsite pickup or delivery
Apartment complexes
Office buildings
Hospitals
Hotels
Retail store locations
What are the dimensions of a lift gate?
Lift gates can range in size. They can go from 80” wide to 89” wide and 30” deep to 70” deep. We have never seen an LTL carrier not have a lift gate that is at least deep enough to handle a standard 40” x 48” pallet. The width of the lift gate is dependent on the type of truck.

Smaller straight trucks are often 96” inches wide and this is where you will see lift gates that are between 80” and 83” wide. These types of trucks are most commonly used when making limited access pickups and deliveries.
Full size 53’ van trailers are 102” wide and this is where you will see lift gates that are upto 89” wide.
If you are moving cargo that is not loaded on standard 40” x 48” pallets, you should definitely check with the carrier that you are using prior to booking your shipment to make sure they have the proper size lift gates at both their origin terminal and destination terminal.

Remember LTL carriers use the Hub and Spoke system so the truck that picks up your shipment and the truck that delivers your shipment are going to be different. Also, carriers have different types of equipment in different markets.

How much weight can a lift gate hold?
Again this depends on the type of lift gate the carrier has attached to their truck. Lift gate weight capacity can range from 1500 lbs to 3500 lbs. As a general rule you are going to see smaller capacity gates on smaller trucks and larger capacity gates on larger trucks. You can get lift gates for trucks as small as a pickup or light utility truck or van. A good guideline to go with is 2500 lbs. Most common LTL carriers will have a lift gate capable of handling this weight. Often this can be correlated to pallet capacities which typically max out between 2000 lbs and 2500 lbs as well.

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Thanks for reading our article on Lift Gate Service. We hope it helps you achieve your goals. We have several other resources you may find useful. Feel free to check them out here.

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Dave Stevens

Dave Stevens

Transportation Executive with experience in developing processes and controls for early stage start up companies. Specialties include: Sales, Marketing, Transportation, Trucking, Brokerage, Project Transport and Rail Operations.,Organizational Design, Process Development, Accounts Receivable Management, Leadership, and Business Start-ups.

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