Our installation and customer service teams get asked about weight a lot.  The truth is, “heavy” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.  Your half ton truck can’t haul as much as a one ton, but that doesn’t mean you want the payload from either dropped on your foot!

We’ve all had to worry about the breaking strength of a cable, or a chain, or even a ratchet strap, especially when one of those is holding down something heavy.

Now, most of us either had to learn, or were taught, that working on a 1:5 or 1:6 ratio of the breaking strength of cable of chain is usually safe, but what about when it comes to your truck?

How Heavy Is Too Heavy - Tommy Gate Hydraulic Liftgates

For example, towing limits and cargo capacity are all-too-often forgotten about for silly reasons.

We’ve all heard the excuses:

“We’re just going a few miles.”

“I’m only going to be driving 60 km/h.”

“It’s all flat ground…”

While we can’t condone these ideas, we’ve all encountered them.

But what about when it comes to the upfitting of a commercial truck or van?  After all, our team does it all – from designing custom trailers, service bodies, and, of course, hydraulic liftgates.  Our rules are simple:  a truck or van can carry what it can carry, based on the manufacturer’s stated testing and what your Province legally dictates is legal for the road.  Those are rules about weight we can’t make up.  In other situations, though, you might have options – like how much weight a shelving system can hold or the weight rating on a cargo rack or liftgate.

Our own in-house rule for any project like this is simple:  Overbuild it.  If you think you’ll encounter situations where you’ll have to tow heavy, then opt for the one ton dually.  It’s still going to easily handle light loads, but it’s going to be far safer when and if you ever have to handle a big job.

With, for example, the Tommy Gate hydraulic liftgates we install on trucks and vans, we try to ensure the lifting capacity is well in excess of the average load the liftgate would be expected to move.  In fact, depending on which model you choose, the weights a liftgate are rated for can range from 650 pounds up to a ton.

Which one is right for you?

It’s a simple fact of machinery that, the more times a piece of equipment is operated at the limits of it’s stated rating, the higher the odds are of that equipment reaching a mechanical failure point.  That brings us right back to our main point:  Overbuild it!

If you know – right at the beginning – that loads are going to run at, for example, 600 or more pounds day after day, then a heavier-rated unit is going to be the superior choice, even though the capacity of the liftgate is higher than the load in question.  In fact, when it comes to liftgates, the general rule of thumb is to round up, and round up generously. More fluid, more cooling capacity, and a longer working life are all results of this type of decision.

There’s another piece of this equation that a lot of liftgate buyers might not consider, and that’s change.  No business exists in a vacuum, and if you’re purchasing tools and equipment that are operating at their design limitation from Day One, what happens when a new client makes a seemingly minor change and suddenly puts every load over the weight limit?

How Heavy Is Too Heavy - Tommy Gate Hydraulic LiftgatesSimple:  You’ll have to buy new equipment or you’ll be breaking the rules, breaking your equipment, and possibly opening up a can of worms for you, your team, and your company.

Beyond these “easy” examples, there’s another piece of equipment to consider, and that’s your people.  Are they operating beyond their own limits?  Sure, it’s easy to think that tools and equipment are unloaded from trucks and vans in an orderly fashion, and that’s sometimes true.  On the other hand, we’ve all tried to “get it all in one trip,” too, or tried to grab it all to miss that summer shower or icy sleet.  Remember, each time you’re stepping up into a van or leaning in to grab something from a truck bed, there’s a risk of strains, slips, and falls.  Couple that with wet or cold weather, and a lot of employees are operating above the limits of their bodies.

How much easier is it to install, for example, a hydraulic liftgate or ramp to facilitate getting all those small things on and off the work truck or out of the cargo van?  When was the last time you weighed the “rolling” toolbox your Journeymen have, or the welder that takes two strong guys to load up?  Is it any wonder that strains and sprains make up so many of the emergency care that companies in the trades have to pay for?

After more than 10 years of upfitting and outfitting trucks and vans for all types of jobs and industries, our experience has shown us building for the heaviest job is always preferable to hoping you’ve got “enough.”

If you’re trying to decide how much is “enough”, whether with a Tommy Gate or a custom-built service body, our team is happy to share our own experience, and you can reach out to them right here or on the phone at 1-888-435-6466.   Items like the Tommy Gate represent big decisions, and you need to feel confident that you’re getting the perfect model for the work you and your team need to do.