Let’s face it, work trucks do just that—they work. The people who operate them work too, but some have to work harder than others.
“Whether it’s a delivery truck or a service vehicle, having to lug something heavy out of a cargo hold can be slow, laborious, and a little dangerous,” says Vinny Lamontagna, sales manager for US Upfitters. “Some fleets still operate like that, but they are not the progressive ones, and they’re spending more time and effort getting the job done than they need to.”
Lamontagna suggests that these fleets are also much more prone to worker injuries. He insists that the simplest solution is also the most inexpensive and versatile. “An aluminum ramp will get the job done,” he says.
RAMPANT RAMP USAGE
Hydraulic liftgates and compact electric cranes can both be a great help in cargo and equipment unloading, but they present their own issues.
“Hydraulic equipment is just bound to have periodic issues,” Lamontagna says. “Fleets also have to regularly perform maintenance on the liftgate equipment and grease friction points; there is just a lot that can go wrong.”
Operating liftgates and cranes with any frequency can also deplete batteries faster than alternators can recharge them. As the commercial vehicle industry moves toward zero-emission trucks, these energy-hungry technologies will face new challenges.
Most commonly mounted on the exterior of a vehicle, liftgates are constantly exposed to the elements. They can also become wet, icy, or contaminated by road debris.
“We install Link Manufacturing’s line of lightweight, low-profile aluminum ramps,” says Rob DeMars, director of operations for American Bobtail. “They mount and stow vertically inside the rear or side doors of a variety of vehicle types, including cargo vans, step vans, cutaway vans, box trucks, and straight trucks. They aren’t exposed to the weather.”
Based in Rockwall, Texas, DeMars mused that the advantages of the interior storage feature became even more apparent during Winter Storm Uri that ravaged the state in February of 2021.
“Folks using the ramps could just fold them back into the vertical position and brush or wipe away any snow or moisture off the surface,” DeMars says. “Just like some of the people and the infrastructure, not all of the hydraulic liftgates did so well in the unusually cold weather.”
EASY DOES IT
Link ramps mount just inside a vehicle’s doors and take up less than 12 inches of horizontal space. Unlike hydraulic liftgates, Link ramps require no training to operate, so any worker can use them. The Link ramps are easy to use, and an optional built-in spring-assist feature is available on some Link ramp models. With the spring-assist feature, only 50 lbs of force is required to open and close the ramp.
With or without the spring assist feature, Link’s aluminum ramps can be unfolded and folded into their low-profile vertical storage position in less than 10 seconds. Workers can open the ramp, make deliveries, close the ramp, and be back on the road in moments.
Link also makes a swivel ramp that enables users to rotate the ramp 180 degrees in or out of the vehicle, like a door. By swinging back and locking into position, Link’s LSR90 Series Swivel Ramp provides access to cargo areas and is there when needed and out of the way when it’s not.
“Link’s LSR90 Swivel Ramp mounts in the rear stored position just like their other folding ramps but can also be rotated 90 degrees, stowing behind the wheel well and offering full access to the cargo area,” says Mark Gibbs, president of American Van Works. “Users can also swing the ramp 90 degrees out of the vehicle, taking it completely out of the cargo area.”
Link ramps come in widths of between 24 to 47 inches and can easily accommodate standard hand trucks and other cargo conveyance equipment. Bifold ramp lengths range from 72 to 135 inches. Trifold models extend to 119 inches. Trifold ramps also feature an adjustable support mechanism for extra stability.
Link has nine standard ramp designs to meet a variety of applications and just introduced a 42-inch by 108-inch ramp. The new ramp gives van users more width without blocking door access when mounted to one side and folded to its upright storage position. Weight capacities for Link’s broad ramp offering range from 350 to 1,500 lbs. Additionally, applications for the ramps are as varied as the fleets that use them.
“We install Link ramps on lots of delivery vehicles,” US Upfitters’ Lamontagna says. “One of our clients is a landscape equipment rental company, and they use the ramps to offload implements at jobsites.”
Lamontagna says his customers run the gamut from general contractors to plumbers that want to haul heavy rooting machines to college universities and hospitals.
“Our customer base is diverse, and out here in Hollywood we serve a lot of digital engineers that work in the entertainment industry,” says American Van Works’ Gibbs. “They use the Link ramps to roll very expensive carted equipment in and out of their vehicles. I have to add that they love the swivel ramp because of the extra access it gives them to the cargo area.”
Gibbs says there are a lot of small delivery fleets in LA and that the area’s microbrewers like the ramps a lot. The Link ramp has also caught the attention of local cycle shops that appreciate the width and sturdiness of the product.
“Anybody loading and unloading heavy equipment is a candidate for the Link ramp,” says American Bobtail’s DeMars. He explains that the ramps are a perfect fit for the medical supply companies he serves and work great for transporting hospital beds and oxygen carts. “Mounted on the side door of a box truck, the ramps allow easy offloading in allies and onto sidewalks, and the optional wheel kit can help transition the ramp more smoothly when deploying it on a wide variety of surface angles and materials,” DeMars says.
“One of the things I like most about Link ramps is how long they last,” DeMars says. “I’ve seen them outlast more than one vehicle, and we just remove them and put them in the new truck.”
“I keep 10 of Links LB20 Series bifold-mount ramps in stock at all times because I know there is always a market for them,” DeMars says. “They make my customers happy—and that makes me happy.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Find out more about Link Cargo Management Products, visit www.linkmfg.com.