Without an access ramp, it would be near impossible to load mobile plant, pallets and many other cargoes that are too heavy to lift into low loaders and other commercial vehicles. Good quality, long lasting ramps are carefully designed to meet a multitude of needs and are engineered to withstand the rigours of life on the road.
It is natural that loading ramps are often taken for granted; they are easy to use and there is no pressing reason for users to think too hard about them. However, if you are buying or specifying ramps, then it is important to understand that variations in design and manufacturing can have a drastic impact on the performance quality, reliability and safety of the product. It is also worth noting that, in some cases, bespoke designed ramps can make an otherwise difficult loading job far easier.
Whether bespoke or standard design, ramps are safety critical devices. This is especially true when you consider that they may be required to support a five-tonne tractor as it is being winched onto a low loader. As well as the strength to take such loads, safety features have to be incorporated into the design, including side barriers to prevent the load from sliding off if it is misaligned and non-slip surfaces on the vehicle tracks. They might also include anchor points, landing feet and adjustable end flaps that ensure a smooth entry onto the ramp.
Perhaps the leading low loader ramp available to UK vehicle operators is the VFR from sara Ramps. This heavy-duty aluminium ramp has been setting the industry standard for nearly thirty years and comes in a range of sizes. Standard load capacities are from 10,000-80,000kg, with customised and bespoke versions also available, making the VFR ramps suitable for loading all types of heavy plant: from agricultural machinery to multi-axle cranes.
Originally designed for loading steel track machinery, VFR ramps are available in multiple width and length options and can also be made to individual length requirements. The flexibility ensures that any degree of incline can be accommodated. VFR ramps are available in a variety of standard end fixings to suit most trailers and can be adapted to specific requirements. In short, VFRs can be used with any type of wheel or track, including solid tyres and rollers.
The VFR aluminium profiles can also be used to produce outriggers, infills and combine wells in sizes to suit special needs.
As a ramp manufacturer backed up by a first class design department, sara Ramps can constantly work on improving the ramps and can rise to individual challenges with one-off designs for special projects.
Jeremy Albin of sara Ramps gives some examples of how custom solutions have been developed: “For instance, over recent years combination ramps have become increasingly popular for loading machinery with low clearances or long wheelbases. These consist of two pairs of VFR ramps, most commonly 2 x 2,000mm or 2 x 2,400mm with a separate, central support pedestal. The second tier ramps can also be used independently for standard loading.”
Demonstrating the company’s willingness to rise to the most challenging of requests, Albin recalls that sara Ramps recently developed a bespoke solution for the Bloodhound land speed record project: “We designed and built a special set of three tier ramps for loading the 7.5 tonnes Bloodhound - it’s a car, but at 13.5m long loading it onto a transporter takes some care and consideration.
“We supplied these ramps to Euro Axles of Newcastle under Lyme for use with their purpose built trailer and take great pride in knowing we are helping push the excellence of British engineering to world beating levels.”
Not all jobs are this high profile, but sara Ramp’s designers are always on hand to advise and help with selection of standard ramps or development of a bespoke solution. When a ramp is well matched to its duties, it will be easy to use and give safe service over many years.
All sara Ramp products are manufactured to the relevant British and European standards, and all carry certification and quality marks. The ramps are made with a 100% safety factor, so there is no need to choose oversized models to ensure safe operation. sara Ramps also offers a range of related products, such as pedestrian ramps, wheelchair ramps, van ramps, sack truck ramps, event ramps and tail lift ramps.