Lift gate trailer – what you need to know

Lift gate trailers look like any other enclosed trailer but with one big difference. They have a gate in the back that can be lowered from the trailer to the ground.

Because they add weight to the trailer, these are not typically used unless the recipient requires them. Still, these are fairly common charms that can be very useful in the right circumstances.

What is a lifting gate?

A liftgate is like a small deck on the end of a trailer. Operators can raise or lower the gate with the push of a button. In most cases, the operator loads the gate with a pallet and then uses the gate to either lift it into the truck or place it on the ground.

When making deliveries to large stores and corporations, the shipping area often has a shipping dock and forklifts to move the pallets. These trucks do not require a tail lift as the loading dock is built level with the truck. In areas where there are no docks that will be covered later, a lifting gate is essential. Otherwise, there will be a 56 inch gap between the truck and the ground that cannot be covered without the gate.

Lift gates are not always required. If the items can be carried away by hand, the shipper or recipient may not need a lift gate. If the items are very heavy, a lift gate may be required.

How a lifting gate works

Lift gate trailers differ significantly from other trailers. You will easily see the big metal gate in the background. When it unfolds, it becomes several feet from the trailer and is unmistakable.

While they are exceptionally useful and notable, the process behind their function is fairly standard. Most overhead gates are hydraulic, but some are electric. Standard hydraulic spools push pressure through the piston, causing the spool to move up or down. The process is similar for electric gates, but these would use electricity rather than pressure.

There is often a simple switch box with “up” and “down” buttons to control the gate. You could have these words, arrows, or similar words. This is a simple mechanism that anyone can control. If you are looking at tail lift trailers for sale then simply check this mechanism before you buy.

When lifting gates are best

While large retailers and large corporations have loading docks, sometimes overhead doors are essential for certain projects. Any business that doesn’t have a loading dock needs lift gate deliveries. This is required to move the pallets off the truck unless the company has a forklift. If yes, then they can use the forklift instead of the tail lift.

Home services and home deliveries may require a lift gate. It highly depends on what is being shipped. If the items can be easily removed by hand, a lift gate should not be necessary. When shipping large furniture or building materials, a lift door would be required as no house is prepared for large shipments.

Construction sites may also need lift gate trailers. While some job sites may have a makeshift loading dock or forklift available, most will require a lift gate. This allows you to safely remove the heavy equipment and supplies from the truck.

There are many other cases where a lift gate is required. If there is no loading dock or forklift and the items are heavy, a lift gate is generally needed.


Lift gate trailers are great for offloading heavy items when a shipping dock is not available. These tags are very versatile and well suited for shipping to unconventional locations.

Lift gate trailer article and permission for publication here provided by Harry Poulson. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on April 8th, 2020.

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