To secure the areas in which material is loaded and unloaded in a facility, especially on elevated work platforms and mezzanines, pallet drop gates are necessary. A dual-gate system that creates a controlled-access environment at all times should always be used to secure these areas. The safety gates help to ensure that employees and material on the work platform will be protected from falls and injuries during the process. They will also make sure you are compliant with industry regulations and standards, like those from OSHA or ANSI.
There are a wide variety of pallet drop gates in the market; however, many of the devices are better suited for specific applications and environments. It’s not always easy to pick the right design without first answering a few questions about the area that you’re trying to secure.
Here’s a list of five questions to answer before purchasing a pallet drop gate in order ensure you select the right device for the job:
1. Is the pallet drop opening in an opening in guardrail or in a doorway?
Guardrail openings and doorways are constructed and function differently, so safety gates are needed for each specific instance - one size does not fit all. For example, the doorway may have a roll-up door that needs to close at times for climate or noise control, so you need to install a safety gate that doesn’t interfere with the operation of the door. For this reason any gate that swings or arcs through the doorway shouldn’t be used, as the swinging gate could prevent the climate door from closing. Instead you should install a safety gate that operates behind the doorway. When the pallet drop area is located in the opening in a guardrail then you could use a safety gate that would be installed inside the opening that would swing/arc through the opening when operated.
2. Is a lift truck used to load pallets up to the area, or is an overhead hoist/crane used?
Consider how the material is loaded into the area; many pallet drop gates have parts that can impede the material handling process if it’s done with an overhead device. The areas which use overhead devices will need pallet drop gates that have an open area at the top to allow for the use of the crane or hoist.
3. What happens to the material when it is lifted up to the area?
Every facility has a different process for material handling. Sometimes, material is left in place after it’s been dropped into the area; in these instances, pallet drop gates must ensure that the employees working with the materials are not exposed to risks like falling. If the material is taken to another area for work after the drop, a pallet drop gate with enough room to move the material while reducing the safety risks is required.
4. What is the width of the opening? What is the available depth? What is the available height? What about the material width, depth and height?
Width, depth and height are key measurements in the selection of a safety gate model. Also consider the height and depth of the pallet and material, as some gates are better suited for extra tall or extra deep loads.
5. What is the environment in the area of the opening like?
The environment of the area where the safety gate will live is a key factor in the determination of what material that gate must be made of. If there is a hostile environment, then select a safety gate with few moving parts. If it’s a clean environment, such as one in a food manufacturing facility, the gate should be constructed out of stainless steel. If you have specific sanitary requirements such as continuous welds or no-holes in the tubing then seek out a manufacturer who can meet these requirements.
Keep in mind that some areas may be much more complicated, and more questions may need to be asked to determine the right pallet drop gate for the facility. The manufacturers of the gates - like us - can help you determine the right fit, and it may require a custom build. However, by answering these five questions you can rest assured that you are well on the way to selecting the right pallet drop gate.