The Ultimate Construction Machinery Loading Ramps Buyers Guide
Finding the right loading ramps for your machine can be a nightmare.
It's something that customers are always asking us for...
"What are the best loading ramps for my excavator?"
And for good reason.
What if you get the wrong ramps?
What happens if you get your ramps and they bend as soon as you load your excavator onto the tandem?
Your business will suffer from hundreds if not thousands of dollars in lost work, unhappy clients and staff or other trades standing around costing you money whilst your machine is stuck up on your tipper.
Guess who won’t be working on that site again?
But it’s not your fault.
There are so many loading ramp brands and styles out there to choose from it’s a bloody minefield trying to get the right one for your digger.
This complete guide will be the most important information you’ll read.
We want to share with you what we believe to be the biggest pitfalls most ramp buyers face and show you how you can be guaranteed to avoid them.
Knowing this will allow you to find the most cost-effective and safest ramps for your business.
How Do We Know?
We sell over 3,500 ramps per year all over Australia and have years of experience not only selling every major brand of aluminium loading ramps but also using and testing them ourselves.
In fact, our head honcho, Matt, cut his teeth as an operator in the civil construction industry for 10 years.
What You'll Learn In This Buyers Guide
Find a good spot to sit down and grab yourself a coffee. We're going to be exploring the 5 most important things any loading ramp buyer should know.
Here's what's coming up...
- How second-hand ramps can cost you twice as much as new ramps.
- A cheat sheet showing you how to calculate what capacity ramps you need.
- The perfect gradient range your ramps need to be.
- Why the wrong width could cause big problems.
- How to identify the right rung type and prevent voiding your warranty.
- The secret to getting 1-2 years extra life from your ramps.
As an added bonus we've compiled all of this together in a handy ebook that you can download for free and keep which includes the 3 most effective ways to stop thieves stealing your ramps (not included here--download the free report to find out).
Let's get into the details.
The Scary Truth About Second Hand Ramps No Seller Will Tell You
So you’ve got your machine, you’ve got your tipper, now you just need to get a set of ramps.
Easy!… Not really.
How about that set of 3-tonne ramps you saw on Gumtree? They look alright! And for only a thousand bucks! Rippa!
The ad says that they’re straight and “hardly used”. And they’re only a 1-hour drive from your place to pick them up.
Well, here’s the likely truth about those Gumtree ramps…
The guy that’s selling them has had them for 6 years and although he says he’s hardly used them (which is true), he’s also lent them out to a bunch of mates over the years who were too tight to get their own.
And these ‘mates’ used them once or twice (or 10 times) to load their 5-tonne excavator which caused a hairline stress crack in the aluminium beam.
The photos in the Gumtree ad don’t show this of course.
The guy selling them probably has no idea that there is a crack--it’s so small and hard to see, hidden right at the top of the ramp.
So you leave the job early one Friday arvo and pick up the Gumtree ramps.
Done deal! That was easy!
... But 3 months later, that small hairline crack starts to open up as you’re using the ramps a lot more than good old Gumtree guy did.
You not only notice that crack but find 2 more as well, and the rungs are starting to fail too.
Now you’re left with a dodgy (and unsafe) set of ramps.
Sure you can weld the cracks a couple of times but that’s really just a bandaid fix.
There goes three-grand...
Off to find another set of ramps.
Many People Get The Loading Capacity Of Ramps Completely Wrong
A big misconception that’s often made is that plant operators and business owners usually don’t know the true weight of their machine.
Let’s break out the calculator and do a bit of simple math.
First, you should take into account the wet weight of the machine. (This is the weight of the skid steer or excavator including fluids like
gear oil, hydraulic oil, engine oil and usually diesel.)
Then consider the weight of the attachments that your machine may carry.
These could be machinery attachments such as buckets, grabs, hammers, auger drills and so on.
Work out what the heaviest combination of attachments is that you or your operators would potentially carry up or down the ramps.
Remember! This could be a combination of mud bucket, ripper, and trencher buckets if they all can be carried at once.
Next, add on things such as fire extinguishers, vandal covers, rotating beacons, chains, grease guns, hammers, spare bucket teeth, first aid kit, gloves, jackets, PPE gear, water and so on.
There can be an extra 100kg to 200kg here.
Starting to add up, right?
Lastly, add on the operator's weight and an extra bit for loose dirt and mud.
You should have a figure on your calculator of the maximum combined weight.
A bit more than you originally thought?
So rather than getting away with a set of lower capacity ramps, it’s best to purchase a set that is rated to at least that figure on your calculator.
Calculate & Measure First, Buy Once (No Year 10 Math Skills Needed)
Getting the right length ramps is another critical factor.
Too short and your machine will slide off the ramps or rollover, causing serious damage to your machine, injury and potentially death.
At a minimum, you could be up for tens of thousands in lost income & damage costs.
So what is the right length loading ramp?
That depends on the height of your loading point. In most cases, this is the rear bed height of your tandem tipper.
As a general rule of thumb, a good gradient is about 18 degrees for most machinery loading ramps.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to recall year 10 math here.
We’ve built a handy Ramp Calculator for you...
Simply punch in the height of your tipper body and an estimated ramp length (start with 3500mm as that is the most common length).
If the degrees shown on the Ramp Calculator is between 16 to 23 degrees you should be fine.
You’ll also get a diagram showing you visually how the ramp would look on your truck or trailer.
Handy Tip: If in doubt, always look for the recommended height range before buying excavator ramps.
Our team can help you work out the ideal length ramps for your tipper.
Alright, so we’ve covered the capacity and weight. Now the next most common critical factor is the ramp width.
Don’t Risk Sliding Off Your Ramps
If your ramps are too narrow for your machine the wheels or tracks don’t get full traction against the rungs.
Instead, the tracks or wheels rest on the edge of the ramp (the beams) which are slippery even when dry.
Not only will you have a greatly increased risk of sliding, but this will also cause premature wear and damage to the ramp beams, especially for steel track excavators.
The Wrong Rung Type Will Void Your Warranty
There are two main types of rungs that loading ramps have:
- Rungs designed for use with rubber tracks and rubber tyres.
- Rungs designed for use with steel tracks and steel tracks with pads.
Loading ramp rungs for rubber tracks & air tyres come in a wide range of styles and are generally not as strong as steel track rungs.
Also, ramp rungs for steel tracks also have different styles. Most common is the 'angle-iron' triangular shape.
Loading a steel tracked machine onto ramps that are not designed for use with steel tracks will void any manufacturer's warranty and will
quickly cause damage.
The damage is caused when the steel track goes from an open position around the curve of the end of the track to a closed position.
This opening and closing action of the tracks acts like super-strong steel jaws that chew chunks out of the softer aluminium ramps.
The same thing goes for steel tracks with rubber pads. They perform just the same way as steel tracks without pads.
Although these are more expensive and heavier, ramps that are designed for steel tracks have heavier duty rungs that are designed to withstand the pressures of steel tracks.
They can also be used for rubber tracks and tyres.
So if you have a steel track machine in your fleet you should always choose a set of ramps that are designed for steel tracks and steel tracks with rubber pads.
Do This To Get An Extra 1-2 Years Life Out Of Your Alloy Loading Ramps
Aluminium loading ramps for excavators and skid steers generally have a 3-6 year life span depending on how often they are used and how well you treat them.
They are under such huge stresses that over time all ramps will start to lose their strength.
But if you look after your ramps correctly, you’re likely to be able to extend the life of your ramps even beyond the usual range.
Follow these handy tips...
Loading Ramp Maintainance 101
Use them regularly
There are a heap of different aluminium compounds that ramps are made from but without going into full ramp-nerd-mode and talking about elements of the periodic table, just know that most aluminium ramps need to be used regularly to avoid stiffening and fracturing.
It’s best to use your ramps at least once per month, which helps to prevent hairline fractures from occurring.
Store out of the elements
When storing your ramps, try to keep them out of the elements if possible.
The harsh Aussie sun, rain and wind will reduce the lifespan of your ramps.
Tie them down
When travelling with your ramps, always ensure they are laid horizontally on a flat level surface.
It’s even better if they can be tied down to avoid any sudden shocks or jumping around when you’re travelling to and from the job.
Stop Thieves Right In Their Tracks!
We often ask why our customers are buying a set of loading ramps.
Do you know one of the most surprisingly common reasons?
“My ramps were stolen right from my bloody truck!”
Find out our top 3 tips to avoid having your ramps stolen in our free downloadable report.
Now that you've worked through the steps above you have a firm grasp of what you should consider before buying aluminium loading ramps.
If you're ready to find your next set of loading ramps for your excavator or skid steer loader, we've got them all right here at Ramp Champ.
You can order online or contact us to chat with one of our loading ramp experts.