Selection guide and product finder for loading ramps and rails
Loading ramps and loading rails belong to the group of supposedly self-evident products, which are usually only really appreciated when they are missing – e.g. when a van is being loaded with heavy goods or when a wheelchair user wants to travel over a kerb. Reason enough to pay a little more attention to these “obstacle clearers”, which are actually really important!
What uses are there for loading ramps, wheelchair ramps and loading rails?
As already mentioned at the beginning, threshold plates, loading ramps etc. in their various forms are used in a wide variety of professional and private situations. In general, one can distinguish between…
- ... the type of height to be overcome (e.g. cables, steps, curbs, difference in height between floor and vehicle, etc.)…
- ... who or what should overcome a height difference, whereby the spread between personal or goods transport is huge (from wheelchairs or prams to transport vehicles or heavy industrial machines)…
- ... the general purpose of use. Be it in industry and trade for carts, transport equipment, forklifts or motorcycles or in horticulture and landscaping for wheelbarrows, lawn mowers or excavators. Often also to provide convenient access to a suitable vehicle for wheelchair users.
Important: loading ramps also play an important role in terms of accessibility when it comes to making public and private areas easily accessible for wheelchair users and people with disabilities.
When is a ramp suitable and is when a rail suitable?
Rail or ramp, that's the question! And it cannot be answered in a general way, since there are numerous possible uses for both versions and in many cases both solutions are potentially suitable. That's why it's ultimately the details that matter:
- Access rails, loading rails and similar products are usually sold in double packs and placed at an appropriate distance from each other. Their dimensions are relatively compact and their weight is low, so that they are usually easy to stow away.
- With loading ramps, it is particularly important to consider beforehand whether you want a mobile or stationary solution. Mobile ramps are often carried and set up by the user. They must therefore be comparatively light, which limits their size and load bearing capacity, while stationary loading ramps or built-in models are worthwhile for frequent use, e.g. as door threshold ramps or as a permanently installed wheelchair ramp in a vehicle, and are easier to handle. It is therefore always necessary to weigh up the pros and cons well in advance and to assess the intended use as exactly as possible.
What is the best way to find the right ramp or rail?
When deciding which models to include in our product range and which not to include, we always take care to select products that are suitable for the greatest possible number of our customers and are therefore real “all-rounders”.
Filter our range of ramps and rails according to popular criteria such as width, length, material, dead weight, load capacity and the height difference to be overcome and, of course, price. We will lead you to the right product. You can also use the “property”, “equipment” and “surface” filters to select ramps with specific additional features.
What do I have to pay attention to when it comes to load bearing capacity?
Good news: you don't actually have to pay much attention to it after all. There is only one mistake you should definitely not make, and that is to take the net weight as a basis instead of the gross weight. In concrete terms, this means that you should include not only the weight of the equipment or machine for loading, but also, for example, the weight of people using the ramp, of the fuel, etc. at the same time.
With rails, you should always check whether the specified maximum load bearing capacity refers to a single rail or to a pair. And the third and last tip we'll give you: Better too much than too little. This is not the worst stance for reasons of safety either, since overloading is one of the most common causes of accidents when using wheelchair ramps, load rails, etc.
How do I find the right ramp width?
This question brings few surprises, because, of course, the width of a loading ramp should depend on the vehicle for which the ramp is intended. For load rails, this accordingly makes the tyre width of the vehicle relevant. When there are doors at the end of the ramp, always pay attention to the distance between the door posts, the depth of the door frame and, if applicable, the depth of the niche.
In general: Also be generous when it comes to the ramp width and, in case of doubt, it's better to choose a larger model. You are even obliged to do so to a certain extent, because in Germany the regulations specified by the employers' liability insurance association, among others, require certain dimensions that must be factored in as “buffers”. A distinction is made between manually operated and power operated transport equipment:
- In the case of manually operated transport equipment with a track width that exceeds 0.75 m, the ramp width must be 0.5 m greater than the track width.
- In the case of power-driven transport equipment with a track width that exceeds 0.55 m, the ramp width must be 0.7 m larger than the track width.
Please be aware that these rules are subject to change at any time. Therefore, always make sure you have a good overview of the current legal situation – or simply contact us and ask for advice. We are happy to help you at any time!
What are the most common causes of accidents when using ramps and how can I minimise the risks?
Of course, not all accidents that occur when using loading ramps, wheelchair ramps, loading rails etc. can be prevented. But most of them can! All too often the reason is improper use due to overloading, inadequate securing, etc. of the ramps. Specifically, the following points are the most frequent causes of accidents:
- The load capacity of the ramp is exceeded, resulting in material failure.
- The vehicle to be loaded rolls away or the ramp tips over or the transport equipment slips off the ramp.
- People slip, fall or trip on the ramp or people get limbs caught between the vehicle and load.
And how can these potential accidents be avoided? Well, in terms of the first point – exceeding the payload – only mathematics and caution can help. The other two dangers can easily be prevented by safety features such as raised safety edges, safety bolts, side profiles and anti-slip coatings.
The factor “gradient”
Why are gradient and length the most important factors when buying ramps?
If you've scrolled this far, then you've done everything right, because you've probably reached the most important chapter on the topic of ramps. Because no matter whether a curb ramp or maintenance ramp, loading bridge or bridge plate, there is no other topic about which so much and, at times, so much contradictory information can be found as about the right length and gradient. Here are the most important facts for you:
Ramp length and ramp gradient are immediately related.
The shorter the ramp, the steeper the gradient and the greater the inclination. And the longer the ramp, the more gentle the gradient and the lower the inclination.
The decisive factor is the loading height.
The loading height is the vertical difference in height between the ground and the point at which the ramp is supported. Or in short: it needs to be bridged!
Different uses? Different gradients!
For some applications, the maximum gradient rates are specified by law, for other uses, however, they are only recommendations and reference values. General criteria that determine the correct gradient are, for example, use in public or private areas, the load bearing capacity of the ramp or rail, the available space, etc.
If in doubt, a gentler gradient.
You should also treat the recommended maximum values for ramp gradients as such, and never exceed them. On the contrary, try to keep them as low as possible. The gentler the gradient of the ramp, the less effort is needed to overcome it.
How do I calculate the required length of the loading ramp if I know the maximum permissible or required gradient?
It's very simple:
(Loading height in cm ÷ gradient) × 100 = length in cm
And here is an example of a loading height of 1.2 m and a gradient of 20%:
(120 cm ÷ 20) × 100 = 600 cm
---> In this case the ramp would have to be at least six meters long.
It is important to take into account not only the full length of the ramp, but also the area in front of and behind the ramp. Also factor in enough space here to ensure safe manoeuvring.
What are the maximum gradients for which activities?
Regardless of whether personal transport or goods transport: According to the employers' liability insurance associations, the maximum gradient for loading ramps and rails must not exceed 30% (equivalent to a ratio of approx. 1:3.33); this corresponds to an angle of approx. 17 degrees. It should be noted that for gradients between 12.5% and 30%, special requirements apply with regard to slip resistance.
For wheelchair ramps or ramps intended for people with disabilities, detailed requirements in relation to gradient apply. As a reference, it should not be greater than 6%, whereby other gradients are permissible depending on the general conditions (electric drive or similar).
Laws and regulations
What are the regulations for access ramps suitable for the disabled?
When wheelchair ramps are used, a distinction must always be made between public and private areas, as different rules and guidelines apply in public areas, particularly with regard to gradients.
To start with, here is a summary of the basic points for barrier-free access using access ramps in the public sector, rental housing, etc.:
- The gradient of the wheelchair ramp must not exceed 6%.
- A transverse inclination of the ramp is not permitted.
- The usable ramp width must be at least 120 cm.
- There must be edges or wheel deflectors of at least 10 cm in height on both sides of the ramp if the ramp is not limited at the side by a wall.
- Handrails with a diameter of 3 – 4.5 cm must also be provided on both sides at a height of 85 – 90 cm.
- The maximum length of a ramp may not exceed six metres. If the ramp is supposed to be longer, a 150 cm long intermediate or rest platform must be added between the two sections.
- There must be an area for manoeuvring or moving in front of and behind the wheelchair ramp, the standard value in this case is 150 x 150 cm.
- There must be no stairs leading downward at the end of a ramp.
- In outdoor areas, wheelchair ramps must feature drainage, and all surfaces must be anti-slip.
In addition, here are some recommendations for using wheelchair ramps in private areas, especially with regard to gradients:
Since a maximum gradient of 6% usually requires a very long ramp length, a wheelchair ramp can also be made steeper for private use under certain circumstances. The following reference values for the ramp gradient are, however, only recommendations and empirical values without a legal basis:
- 6% for self-propelled vehicles
- 6 – 10% for powerful self-propelled vehicles
- 12 – 20% when the wheelchair is pushed by a person
- 20% for electric wheelchairs
The power and dexterity of the wheelchair user or person pushing it, as well as the type of wheelchair, must therefore always be taken into account when selecting the correct gradient.
It is also important to reduce any potential risk of the wheelchair user tipping over to a minimum. This depends on the centre of gravity; factors affecting this are, for example, the physique of the wheelchair user and the way in which the ramp is used (e.g. downwards on the rear wheels). That's why the following applies here too: If in doubt, it is better to opt for a longer ramp. This not only increases the comfort for all users, but also safety.
What equipment versions and additional features are there for loading ramps and loading rails?
With protective edge or a grip, or without, collapsible or foldable, mobile or stationary, height-adjustable or not… you have already become familiar with many factors that play a role when buying a ramp. One aspect that we now want to describe in more detail is the surface. In this case, you have the choice between a closed or open version, whereby the open version is particularly suitable for outdoor use as it allows dirt and water to be removed or to drain off. You can usually choose between the following specific options for the surface:
- Mesh-type surface
- Surface with perforations
- Milled surface
- Surface with anti-slip coating or anti-slip protection
Who can I contact if I have any questions?
What a question! Contact us, of course! At the end of the day, each and every application for which loading ramps and rails are used needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis to ensure a product that is as ideal for the individual requirements and conditions as possible can be found. So don't hesitate for a moment: give us a call by dialling 01442 238000, or write an email to email@example.com, or use the contact form to get in touch with us!