Select the Right Yard Ramp Capacity

Determine the Rise

When buying any type of ramp, yard ramp or otherwise, the first essential piece of information is the distance between the ground and top of the loading surface. This vertical height is called the “rise”. Once you determine the rise, the “run” is the horizontal reach of the ramp and is dictated by the angle of the ramp. You should be aware of your forklift’s grade limitations when considering a yard ramp purchase.

Determine the Yard Ramp Angle

The angle of an industrial ramp is determined by the type of forklift you’re using. With some exceptions, you can assume the following:

A grade of 14% is the industry standard for electrical forklifts, while 19% is used with propane or diesel forklifts.

Measure the Rise from the Ground to the Loading Dock or Truck

The rise is the distance from the ground to the loading dock (see picture below).

For a semi tractor trailer, the rise is the distance from the ground to the floor of the trailer.

Once the rise has been measured and the angle of the forklift is known, the length of the yard ramp can be calculated.

For reference, the average height of a loading dock and average height of a semi trailer is between 48″ to 52″ ( 4- 4 1/3 feet).


Dock door
A standard lifted dock door without a loading ramp.


Length of the Yard Ramp, 30′ or 36′

There are two choices for the length of the yard ramp: 30 feet or 36 feet long. The 36 foot option allows for a level off platform at the loading dock or semi-trailer.

The length of the yard ramp will work for both the dock and the semi, given these average heights.

In the image below, the higher part of the yard ramp is about 4 feet off the ground. The lower part of the ramp is flat and the angle is shallow.

Width of the Yard Ramp Must Accommodate Forklift

The width of the yard ramp should be wide enough to accommodate your forklift. The width of a forklift varies by the capacity it can carry. The wider the forklift the greater the capacity.

Industrial Forklift Diesel57"10,000 lb
Industrial Forklift Diesel77" - 86"15,000 lb

If the rise of your dock or semi is less than 33 inches, you should consider a mini yard ramp.Mini Yard Ramp

Proper Placement and Automatic Adjustment

After you have selected, purchased, and received your yard ramp, you should check that the upper lip of the yard ramp will hang over the entry way to the loading dock as shown in the side photo.

As you load and unload a semi-trailer, the height of the lip of the yard ramp will adjust with the truck slightly to compensate for the change in load on the yard ramp and the weight of the material in the truck.

Capacity of Steel Yard Ramps

You have now successfully chosen the length of the yard ramp.

The last major step is to select the capacity. Similar to the width, the capacity of the yard ramp is determined by the specifications of the forklift. The capacity of the yard ramp is three times the capacity of the forklift. The table below shows the four capacity categories of a yard ramp. For each category you have a choice of 30 or 36 foot length and 70 or 84 inch width. As the weight of the steel or aluminium yard ramp increases, so does the capacity.

Yard Ramp CapacityForklift Capacity Less Than (lbs)Length OptionsWidth Options
16,000 lbs5,33330' or 36' length70' or 84' width
20,000 lbs6,66730' or 36' length70' or 84' width
25,000 lbs8,33330' or 36' length70' or 84' width
30,000 lbs10,00030' or 36' length70' or 84' width

To summarize, the important measurements and capacities to take into consideration when buying a yard ramp are:Summary

1) Rise/Length
2) Width
3) Forklift Capacity

Ready to purchase? Need a bit more help deciding which ramp is right for you? Call a Yard Ramp expert at Handi-Ramp at (847) 680-7700 today!

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