A Safe Loading and Unloading Alternative

We occasionally encounter companies that employ alternate ways to load and off-load their merchandise. The most traditional equipment here is a forklift (of course, one that meets or exceeds specifications in terms of weight capacity and that maneuvers safely within the given dimensions).

Some companies, however, choose to use a skid steer, also known as a skid-steer loader or a skid loader. (You know this most commonly as the Bobcat, a popular brand name.)

The two machines share the basics: four wheels, engine-powered, mechanically operated lift arms. And then the differences begin.

The skid steer is smaller and more rigid than a forklift. On a skid steer, the lift arms are typically based parallel to the operator, with rotation pivots usually just back of the operator’s shoulders.

The main difference is in how the wheels move. On a skid steer, the wheels pair up on either side so that your front and back left wheels lock and synchronize independently from the right, which also roll in tandem with each other. With this mutually exclusive feature, the operator can move, say, the left wheels faster than the right wheels, which creates the ability to drag—or “skid”—the machine with a “zero-radius” turn.

The mechanics of a skid steer make it an excellent option for operators who need to maneuver into and around tight spaces.

That said, safety remains our top priority—for your team and for your inventory. The capacity considerations apply the same for both forklift and skid steer scenarios:

The industry standard for determining the required capacity of your yard ramp is to multiply the Maximum Loading Capacity of your forklift or skid steer by 3x.

Your yard ramp capacity must be equal to or greater than 3x the maximum lifting capacity.

Ramp capacity should meet or exceed this calculation; most often you can find this on the dashboard of your forklift/skid steer (be sure you are reading the lifting capacity and NOT the weight of the forklift or skid steer itself).

Your forklift or skid steer scenario is one of the essential topics The Yard Ramp Guy team covers when discussing requirements with you.