Loading Dock Evaluation: The Rust Factor

It Never Sleeps

There’s more to the picture than meets the eye.

—Neil Young

Yard Ramp: October 2017
October 2017

Yard Ramp: June 2018
The Same Yard Ramp: June 2018

The two photos above are of the same yard ramp. It has a 20,000-lb capacity with 84” width and 36’ length.

We took the photo on the left in October 2017. The photo on the right? June 2018. Why does October look okay and June look, well, rusty? What happened in those eight months?

Actually, not much. Between last fall and the beginning of this summer, it traveled on rental from Tampa to St. Cloud in central Florida and back again. The yard ramp remains a workhorse, and we proudly present it in inventory. Central Florida is known for being quite humid.

As we’ve explored in a previous entry, rust is a result of oxidation. Exposure to the elements—swings in temperature, humidity levels, the cycles of rain and sunshine—all contribute to that oxidation.

That is: rust is expected. For a new yard ramp, rust will begin to appear some three months after final production. This is completely natural and not a remote concern—for the manufacturer, for the customer, for us.

Steel is a combination of mostly iron and carbon and is one of the strongest metals known. Unless and until the rust completely works through a piece of steel, with structural features showing true deterioration (at which point we’d repair it or take it out of circulation), the yard ramp will function just fine.

After Evaluation: Rejected
This is too much rust!

Which brings us to how we evaluate the condition of each and every yard ramp we offer for rent and for sale. A number of factors contribute to our categorization, including age of the ramp and its structural condition.

(We use the term “structural” as a main determining factor; in our experience, we offer some ramps that look more worn than that photo above on the right, and they continue to serve our customers safely and efficiently.)

After our inspection of each ramp, we list them with one of five conditions:

RAMP CONDITION:

NEWLIKE NEWEXCELLENTVERY GOODGOOD
Direct from the factory or parked at one of our depots, this ramp is no more than six months old. It includes safety chains and a mobility device (if applicable). There are no blemishes other than limited oxidation from normal exposure. Hand-cranks or hydraulic systems are new and function as such.
The same as “New” but it left the factory more than six months ago (and/or has been parked inside and shows little aging). It includes safety chains and mobility device (if applicable). There are no blemishes other than limited oxidation from normal exposure. Hand-cranks or hydraulic systems are also like new and function as such.
The same as “Like New” but this ramp has been parked outside and has normal oxidation. In every other way it’s terrific.
The same as “Excellent” but this ramp is probably 4-15 years old. It shows reasonable wear and tear. Hand cranks or hydraulic pumps may require general maintenance but no major repairs. Its mobility device (if applicable) and safety chains are included.
The same as “Very Good” but this ramp shows its age and use like a grizzled warrior. Buyer may need to purchase or fabricate a missing mobility device or set of safety chains. General maintenance to hydraulics would be highly recommended (really, for any used ramp to establish a maintenance baseline before using). Some repairs may be in order: dried out gaskets or hoses, a bent section of deck or apron, a few spot welds. Though a little long in the tooth and not the prettiest, it is structurally sound and will provide a reasonable number of additional years of service.

If and when we colonize the moon, The Yard Ramp Guy wants to set up a lunar branch office. Our inventory would remain pristine there. Rust feeds on oxygen, and there’s no oxygen on the moon. Which means no rust on our yard ramp inventory.

Until then, we’re grateful to operate here, where there’s oxygen. Makes it easier to plan the day.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE:

Yard Ramp: 6 Months Old
Yard Ramp: 6 Months Old

Yard Ramp: One Year Old.
Same Yard Ramp: 6 Months Later

Efficient Yard Ramp Repair

The Yard Ramp Guy: Customer Service
Repairing a Damaged Yard Ramp

Making Lemonade

When a mobile yard ramp in circulation sustained damage, The Yard Ramp Guy was on the case.

The ramp in question, a rental, is currently in Brooklyn, and our headquarters are just outside of Chicago. That’s some 700 miles and one hour’s time zone difference. How to efficiently get that repaired? Telephone, email, knowing how to qualify the right craftsmen, and building relationships.

The Challenge:
The support crossbeam connector brace under the ramp had bent, sustaining damage during a repositioning and compromising the integrity of the support legs and wheels. The hand-crank gear box was stripped and the crank handle broken and torn. The short term for this is “user abuse.”

The Approach:

We confirmed availability of replacement parts with the manufacturer. Through our network of turnkey service partners, we contracted a worthy welder. We confirmed with both welder and current renter a date and time. We secured the delivery of replacement parts.

The welding team first removed the compromised leg assembly and connector brace from the ramp.

Beginning the Repair
Removing the Damage

The team then spot welded the new leg assembly and new connector brace, measuring to assure equal height on both sides of the ramp. We appreciated the cautious approach of the welding team, which contacted us during the repair to confirm removal of an extra shaft on the hand crank assembly. We also kept the factory representative in California close-by via phone conversations directly with the welder.

Securing the New Yard Ramp Leg Assembly
Securing the Replacement Leg Assembly

The team applied a comprehensive weld.

Yard Ramp Repair: A Comprehensive Weld
Sparks Flying for All the Right Reasons

The customer tested the integrity of the job through a repositioning of the ramp.

The Results:
The yard ramp has now returned to its strong, intended integrity. The new hand crank mechanism raises and lowers the leg assembly smoothly. The new connector brace is straight. The yard ramp is again a strong, safe piece of equipment that will offer many more years of use.

Yard Ramp Repair: Complete
Communication: The Key to a Successful Repair

Yard Ramps Across the Industrial Spectrum

Serving the National Interest

The Yard Ramp Guy: Serving Industries Nationwide

Our mobile yard ramps and stationary dock ramps are designed to deploy as solid workhorses, without complaint or glitch. Used properly, they reqire minimal maintenance and can provide years of excellent service.

Part of the beauty of them (and yes, we readily find aesthetic value) is in their strength and what seems like simplicity—simple lines, simple angles. And yet, our manufacturers are always looking to design and engineer enhancements to further increase the value of this inventory. More on those enhancements in the coming weeks.

The number of businesses and industries that utilize The Yard Ramp Guy’s product lines continues to amaze and impress us. And we again want to spotlight the various industries that regularly put our mobile yard ramps and stationary dock ramps into service.

Agribusiness – including farm-to-table through processing plants and distribution hubs.

Automotive Industry – including car and truck parts, tires, and oil and gas companies.

Building Materials – commercial and residential and anything used to build or renovate a structure: these are among the essential elements of the national economy.

Distribution & Shipping – whether ground-to-dock or ground-to-truck, in good times and in times of disaster recovery, these sorting facilities and warehouse stations strategically serve as fuel for the workforce and lifelines in time of need.

Food Processing – The US food processing industry creates revenue of some $750 billion each year for more than 21,000 companies and some 1.5 million people. The food industry is elemental to our states, cities, communities, schools, and dinner tables.

Recycling – factor in the notion that recycling is a nearly $100 billion per year industry, employs nearly 140,000 people, and helps the environment.

And so much more. Add Hollywood movie productions and professional sports teams…and literally thousands of businesses that depend on our yard ramps and loading docks, all toward streamlining their operations, growing their businesses, and keeping their workers safe.

As always, we’re proud to contribute to the forward progress of the national economy.

Managing Transportation Blips

Tapping the Pulse of Compliance

Customer Service with Transparency
The Yard Ramp Guy: Keeping Our Eyes on Transportation Conditions

In the name of transparency (one of The Yard Ramp Guy’s pillars of business), we want to share with you an interesting situation regarding the nation’s truck drivers and a planned U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspection that’s set for next week.

The inspection will last all of 72 hours—June 5th to June 7th—yet has potential impact on our deliveries.

Some background:

On December 18, 2017, the U.S. government mandated an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) be installed in buses and commercial trucks. The ELD mandate is designed to automate compliance with hours of service a driver can be on the road in any given period of time.

Though there are some exemptions to the rule (i.e., short-distance operations, tow truck drive-away operations, etc.), the ELD mandate applies to most vehicles The Yard Ramp Guy contracts with to deliver our inventory.

Larger freight companies have the capital to install and put the ELDs into service on their fleets. The independent contractors have tended to bristle at the added expense and training. Various amendments were introduced last year to delay the mandate’s timeline; they were largely unsuccessful.

With that, a percentage of carriers moved on to other professions. Which caused a disruption in the supply-and-demand chain. Which caused an increase in freight charges. From manufacturers and resellers to freight companies and end-use customers, the entire industry has been grappling with this. (It’s been quite a year; we’re not even folding in the issue of volatility in the steel market.)

Conventional wisdom points to the disruption calming down and steadying over the next few months.

In the short term and the long term, the goal and the effect are to increase safety on the nation’s highways.

And so, next week’s road check. From a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance press release in March:

“The vehicle inspection includes checking brake systems, cargo securement, coupling devices, driveline/driveshaft components, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices, steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, rims and hubs, and windshield wipers. Additional items for buses include emergency exits, electrical cables and systems in the engine and battery compartments, and seating.

“Drivers are asked to provide their operating credentials and hours-of-service documentation, and will be checked for seat belt usage. Inspectors will also be attentive to apparent alcohol and/or drug impairment.”

From our view, and in the name of safety, it’s hard to argue with that concerted inspection.

Still, we suspect June 5-7 might be an opportunity for some carriers to take a few days of vacation. We work with freight logistics specialists we consider part of The Yard Ramp Guy team.

With or without a planned vehicle road check, we always strive to find all of our customers the quickest, safest, and most reasonably priced delivery of our mobile yard ramps and stationary loading docks.

The Yard Ramp Guy Goes Hawaiian

Our Loading Dock Says “Aloha”

The Yard Ramp Guy in Hawaii
The Yard Ramp Guy: In Hawaii

When a restoration and reconstruction business in Honolulu needed a stationary loading dock, The Yard Ramp Guy said Aloha. ‘A‘ole pilikia. (“Hello. No problem.”)

The challenge was transporting a three-ton piece of industrial equipment across twenty miles of southern California highway to a harbor, then 2,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean to our customer in Hawaii’s capital.

To be clear: this was a challenge, not a problem. Whether across town or across the ocean, a movement of freight is an issue of logistics. The Yard Ramp Guy team coordinated smoothly with our manufacturer and logistics partners to deliver.

And so, we had an intermodal scenario—a combination of transportation methods. Fortunately and unsurprisingly, companies transport from land to sea to distant harbors all the time.

In this instance, an ocean freight company specializing in California-to-Hawaii delivery placed the loading dock onto a flatbed truck at our manufacturer’s plant. For protection, it placed the loading dock inside a rectangualr rack—a steel frame some 40 feet long and eight feet wide.

The next steps:

  • At the harbor, a crane lifted the loading dock, in its frame, from the flatbed and placed it onto the container ship;
  • the ocean journey took six days to reach Honolulu Harbor;
  • the shipping company’s crane picked our container off the ship; and
  • placed the loading dock onto a flatbed truck,
  • which was delivered to the customer’s location.

The special consideration in the entire transport scenario was fitting into the ocean freight transport company’s schedule.

Beyond that, and as a follow up, the customer contacted us via Skype to confirm proper installation of the anchor bolts at their dock.

Mahalo.