Aluminum yard ramps fill a very specific need in the market place. They are safer to use in “at-risk environments” where combustible or flammable materials are being handled. A steel yard ramp may create a spark when being moved, but an aluminum yard ramp will not. Aluminum yard ramps are more expensive to purchase and have a shorter life span so customers that do not have a specific need for an aluminum yard ramp will almost always buy a steel yard ramp instead.
Aluminum yard ramps are indeed lighter than steel yard ramp, however, they are not so light that you can move them without a forklift.
Aluminum forklift ramps can be manufactured with either aluminum grating or steel grating but due to weight capacity requirements and durability needs aluminum yard ramps are typically manufactured with steel grating.
For further comparison, read about aluminum and steel yard ramps.
Aluminum as a metal can be made to be as strong as steel through the tempering process. However, the stronger the aluminum the more brittle it becomes. As a result an aluminum yard ramp will have a shorter useful life. An aluminum yard ramp should have frequent inspections performed by a qualified professional to insure it is safe to use.
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Whether you are inspecting your own yard ramp or if you are inspecting a used aluminum yard ramp here are some simple and easy to perform steps that you can do yourself.
You should not use this as an all inclusive guide to insuring your aluminum yard ramp is safe to use. Always use a qualified professional to inspect a ramp for safety.
We conduct a lot of yard ramp inspections. We will evaluate ramps for usability but mostly we look at purchasing used yard ramps for resale. Here are some of the issues that we have noticed on the aluminum yard ramps that we have inspected:
Look for structural damage
Most often, structural damage is very easy to spot as it is here. However, if the grating were in place, the structural problems on this yard ramp would not be so obvious and might be overlooked. Structural damage, as seen here, is often times repairable.
Look for damage to aluminum components
To obtain the necessary capacity for an aluminum yard ramp the aluminum components will have to be tempered. In addition to making aluminum stronger tempering also makes aluminum more brittle. An inspection of the approach plate and lip surface may reveal chips and cracks in the aluminum plate indicating areas of weakness in the yard ramp.
Stress fractures and broken welds
Look at welding seams and corners for stress fractures and broken welds. These will show up as very fine lines or possibly even gaps where two pieces of aluminum meet. Stress fractures are a sure sign that an aluminum yard ramp is approaching the end of its useful life.
You never know where other damage may reside. So look at all aluminum components carefully. Aluminum supports can be damaged just during regular use. In this picture you can see where a section of the aluminum support beam has been broken away. This may have happened when a fork from a forklift hit the supporting beam, breaking out a section of support.