Which Board, Plate or Ramp is Right for Your Customer? New Tool!

To make it easier for you and your team to determine the optimal Bluff product, we have created the Bluff Dock Board, Dock Plate & Container Ramp Selection Guide.

Check out & download the sheet here. This sheet shows:

  • What each product is used for, and
  • Provides tools for choosing length, width and capacity

Reach out to our sales support team for any questions on the sheet or any of our Bluff products. Email here or call 800-433-2212 today.


Trailer Door Opening


Most trailer doors are roll ups with an opening of 92″-94″. Swing door trailers have an opening that is 102″ wide. Boards and ramps must have a minimum of 2″ clearance per side to allow for safe, secure, proper placement.

Some people ask us for a 96″ wide board for a roll up trailer, but the board needs to sit inside the opening.

We are happy to provide training and always have product specialists ready to assist you in finding the best solution for the application.

We have the same goal you do: the right solution the first timeYard Ramp resulting in a satisfied customer.

Who has a crystal ball to see into the future?

These days , senior managers, are having to make difficult choices (as we always do) about how much to spend, what to spend it on, and when to spend it. We all wish we knew with certainty what will be different with this economic cycle, but this time it’s even worse than normal… the stats don’t seem to be following the trends we have relied on in the past. This last horrendous economic cycle that began in 2007 just won’t stop! And at the World Economic Forum in Davos, some creative analysts at Oliver Wyman predicted the next downturn in April 2015 when some haven’t even gotten over the last one. What’s a manager to do and how do you plan for it?

One thing that hasn’t changed is the ongoing push (and success!!! – let’s not be shy about our great American Spirit at this 4th of July) in American Business to become more efficient while at the same time managing large capital costs. This helps us reserve cash flow necessary for survival in the downtimes. But the balance between getting the improvements and spending is tricky, it’s an art, and you can’t both spend money and save it at the same time.

One of the things you can do is to substitute alternate, lower-cost investments that get most of the results while making the investment itself much smaller. For those who need additional warehousing and dock space, have you thought of how to spend less while still keeping your operation going efficiently? Here are four things you can do to maximize results with minimum investment:

Need an extra dock?

One answer is to add a steel platform and yard ramp in your yard to unload additional trailers. This saves the cost of a major addition to add dock space or the cost of moving to a bigger, more expensive building. One portable dock ramp or a steel platform with yard ramp can be used 24/7 to increase the flow-through of goods.

Need extra floor space for operations?

Don’t move! Store what you do have more efficiently and vertically to free up floor space for other, revenue-producing activities. The problem is often unusually-shaped, heavy, or awkward pieces that just don’t store well in your existing rack. To solve the problem, call in an expert and design a custom cantilever rack that stacks the biggest “floor-hogs”.

Need more fork lifts, more drivers and more time to unload trucks?

You have good equipment and people, make them more efficient! Why invest in additional or replacement pit levelers that are subject to downtime – and make the dock shortage more acute. An alternative can be one of the less expensive, but highly efficient dock boards, such as the Speedy Board® by Bluff. One (or more) Speedy® Board can be used at multiple docks, and the driver never has to get off the fork lift to put it in place easily and quickly.

Need more rack space?

If you are running out of rack space, the thought may have occurred to you that you need more room, a bigger warehouse, additional rack or higher racking. But in the blink of an eye, a forklift careens into one of the posts putting 2 or 3 bays out of commission, and now things are more cramped and slower than ever. Maybe the solution is to protect what you have so that you are always at 100% utilization. You can minimize the chance for it being out of commission by protecting it with rack guards and post protectors. A smaller investment in protection can eliminate a bigger investment in racking or additional space.

So while we can’t all go to World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and hear the economic trends first hand, we can all take those insights and make them our own. Spend a little, get a big bang for the buck, save for a rainy day, and use good old fashioned American spirit to run fast, run lean. May you all have a safe and memorable 4th of July.


The World is Now Going Slower

NOT! We all seem to be moving faster and faster these days. As they say, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”. So what can we do to reclaim some of that time and efficiency when we’re racing around in the warehouse, trying to get stuff loaded and unloaded, picked and put away, but still being safe about it?

One of the first things that can be done is PLANNING the work. Before you start driving, start thinking about the safest path through the warehouse, how to avoid pedestrian traffic (which can slow us down) and perhaps save multiple trips with one longer trip. It might even involve a new warehouse layout to have the most frequently picked items nearer to the door.

The second thing we can do is make sure we have the right tool for the job. Trying to put away cartons using a paper clamp just doesn’t work. Plan the work so that you get the forklift with the right attachment, the rubber mallet instead of a hammer that will damage equipment, or the properly rated rail board for unloading the rail car instead of the board that’s nearest to the dock door.


The last thing you can do is to think about your warehouse environment when you are replacing or buying new equipment. Taking a few extra moments to assess how your equipment is going to be used can save you time, money and personal injury in a big way. Don’t just replace the board you have… think about the equipment you really want. Here are some things to consider to maximize your investment and efficiency when buying new equipment:

  • What capacity do you really need for that dock board or plate? The answer is not just the weight of the product you are carrying. A higher grade going either up or down into a truck or rail car really accelerates the wear. Higher use (multiple shifts) and three-wheel forklifts also require higher capacity boards. And buying a board with slightly more capacity than you think you need can be your best investment. In some cases, higher capacity boards and plates can double your product life for a very small investment up front.
  • What are the traffic types and flows around the area?   What directions do forklifts go when they come out of the vehicle? Is there enough room on the dock?
  • If you can think of any design modifications to the product that will help you with your efficiency, talk with your dealer or manufacturer (especially those with good engineering support) to help you get a customized product that can give you a real advantage in efficiency.
  • Lastly, good rapport with an experienced dealer can help you identify best practices and where you may have an opportunity to improve the equipment you’re using now. The dealer’s knowledge is usually free to you, and can result in years of faster and safer use of your tools and equipment.

How American-made products fare better than Chinese made plates

Few things are more American than the tradition of Thanksgiving. Our country has also had a long tradition of manufacturing – everything from steel to furniture.  And although in recent decades manufacturing seems to have become a foreign notion to us, studies and reports seem to be telling us otherwise. A turn-around in manufacturing trends seems to be bringing production back to our shores. As noted earlier, manufacturing is set to see a marked improvement in the next couple of years mainly due to technological advancements in automation, rising wage rates around the globe and increased productivity and quality control within our borders. All of this combined with lower interest rates and a ready labor force have created a more favorable economic climate for domestic manufacturing.

Here at Bluff Manufacturing, we continue to design and build products right here in our Texas-based manufacturing plant. In addition, we source our materials from American partners. For example, Bluff is sourcing its high quality hose bridges from an American manufacturer with efficiency outside of our expertise.  This allows us to provide you with high-value, high-quality, American-made products combined with Bluff’s top-notch customer service.  These hose bridges are made of recycled plastic, and patented all-stainless joiners, and the innovative bridges offer a sturdy, dry, and slip-free crossover for pedestrians and vehicles. With its 14,000 lbs. per axle capacity, this is a great product for firefighters or at fracking and construction sites.

American manufacturing matters because quality matters. For instance, Bluff’s dock plates have met the most stringent MH30.2 standard set by the American National Standards Institute. The ANSI is an organization that helps promote global competitiveness and enhances quality in products by setting these standards written by the Loading Dock Manufacturers section (LODEM) of the Material Handling Institute of America (MHIA).

Our steel dock plates and boards are designed and produced to this standard for safety and performance, and Bluff can proudly state that we meet the MH30.2 standard. Recently, Bluff Manufacturing tested a plate manufactured in China on an ANSI testing machine to verify load capacity, and that plate did not pass the tests.  ANSI standards require a dock plate or dock board to undergo cycle testing at 100% of the rated load for 10,000 cycles. “The plate couldn’t finish the test because the deflection exceeded the acceptable amount shortly after the test started, which was approximately 150 cycles,” said Tom Hobbs, Vice President Operations at Bluff Manufacturing.

Safety has always been a major concern at Bluff, and our focus on quality products is our way to help ensure safety at the facilities of those who use our products.  When we source our materials and make our products, mostly all in America, Bluff Manufacturing can control the process and the quality that ensure the highest quality. Our products speak for themselves as quality can be seen from design and sourcing, all the way to the finished product.