The Dock Leveler Game Has Changed: Pit-Style vs. Exterior Dock Levelers - Dockzilla

The Dock Leveler Game Has Changed: Pit-Style vs. Exterior Dock Levelers

Dock Houses and exterior dock levelers on building

Good news, there’s a refreshing departure from the old-school dock leveler pit-digging scene. Logistics leaders are leaving pit-style levelers behind and switching to exterior-mount dock levelers that are installed on the outside of your dock door.

Here are a few considerations when deciding between pit-style levelers and external dock levelers.

Drawbacks of Traditional Pit-Style Dock Levelers

Traditional pit-style dock levelers have long been the standard for loading dock equipment. However, they come with limitations and drawbacks that have spurred the growth of alternative solutions with faster and easier installation to eliminate costly downtime and preserve building floors.

Downtime & Delays During Construction

The installation process of pit-style dock levelers is a massive source of frustration for building managers. Typically, during the installation of a new pit-style dock leveler, warehouse operations are disrupted as various subcontractors are in and out, preparing the space, demolishing the floor, pouring concrete and kicking up OSHA-regulated silica dust. And given the nature of pit-style dock leveler construction projects, these installations can uncover unknown hazards that need to be addressed.

Internal Pit Leveler

Inefficient Energy Suckers Lack Temp Control

Not only are pit-style dock levelers unable to provide a complete seal at the dock door, they have a one-inch gap all the way around the dock leveler, which means outside air can easily get inside the building while the inside air escapes. This gap greatly compromises temperature control within your building, leading to unnecessary, and often skyrocketing, energy bills.

Pit-style dock leveler with snow and cold coming in through the gaps

Permanence of Concrete

Unlike its modular counterparts, pit-style dock levelers are fixed to the concrete inside your facility which compromises the ability to evolve the operation as needs change. For companies that lease their facilities, this also means that either a valuable asset has to be left behind when a lease ends or they must contend with hefty reclamation costs.

Pit-style dock leveler with floor gap.

Your Building Takes a Beating

Pit-style dock levelers can damage buildings through uneven loading, settlement, leaks, corrosion and neglected maintenance. In the photo below, steel plates have been added to the building to protect it from further damage.

Building with pit-style leveler damaged from trailer

Advantages of Modern Exterior-Mount Dock Levelers

Externally mounted dock levelers, like Dockzilla’s Dock House Exterior Dock Levelers, offer a sustainable approach to the design and installation of loading dock solutions. Here are just some of the advantages of exterior-mount dock levelers.

Dockzilla Dock House exterior loading dock leveler

Fast and Easy Installation

While pit-style dock levelers take weeks of construction, including permitting, demolition, and concrete work, the Dockzilla Dock House Exterior Dock Levelers can be installed in just one-to-two days per dock. This modular, self-standing unit is installed on the building’s exterior without pouring concrete. Since all the work is done on the outside of the building, internal operations can continue as usual.

Assemble the Housing

Save on Energy Bills + Rebate Opps

Whether your building experiences hot summers, frigid winters, or both, external dock levelers can save you money on heating and cooling bills every month. Dockzilla offers a free, customized energy assessment that analyzes your specific facility set-up, considering location, number of dock doors, current energy usage and how you utilize your docks. This comprehensive third-party analysis equips you with powerful insights to quantify potential yearly savings per dock (up to $2,500), and maximize financial incentives with potential rebates from your energy provider.

Dock House energy savings calculations

Reclaim Valuable Floor Space

By avoiding the need for the extensive floor demolition required for pit-style dock levelers, exterior-mount dock levelers reclaim 100 square feet of interior floor space per dock position. This gives you back more room for storage and day-to-day warehouse operations, making the most of every square foot in your facility.

Dock House and dock leveler interior building floor

Remove & Relocate Easily

Unlike pit-style dock levelers that require permanent construction, Dockzilla’s Dock House Exterior Loading Dock Levelers are modular, a significant advantage for businesses operating within leased buildings. For businesses that are expanding or considering future moves, the portability is invaluable and guarantees that the capital spent on dock equipment remains an asset, and eliminates the need for additional expenses on dock equipment during a relocation.

Dock House and dock leveler is removed and relocated

Overview of Exterior Dock Leveler Installation

Step One: Install Self-Standing Dock Leveler – The adjustable steel frame for the exterior self-standing dock leveler is bolted to the ground. These can be installed on asphalt.

Step Two: Add Dock House Structure – The modular Dock House structure is bolted to the building wall, and optional lighting and insulation can be installed.

Step Three: Add Snow/Wind-Rated Canopy & Dock Shelter – The white vinyl canopy on the Dock House is added, providing integral flashing, hot weather cooling, and ambient light. A shelter or seal is installed in front, and a rain diverter is mounted on top.

Step Four: Add Optional Vehicle Restraint and/or Door – An environmentally sealed door, available in power or hand options, can be added to create a thermal vestibule. Additionally, optional vehicle restraints are available.

Why Choose Dockzilla

Revolutionizing material handling since 2002, Dockzilla Co. isn’t just about loading docks – we engineer a logistics advantage. As global leaders in modular loading docks, ramps and building structures, we pioneer advancements in the industry, tackling modern operations challenges head-on. Our expertise spans first-, middle-, to last-mile needs and is tailored to each specific use case. 


Ready to start your dock leveler installation? Talk to a real engineer who understands what goes down at the loading dock to learn more or schedule a consultation.

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