Walk Ramp for Industrial Applications

 In ADA, ADA Ramp, Ramps

What is an industrial walk ramp?

Industrial walk ramps are industrial-grade ramps used for rolling light materials up or down. Walk ramps are different than yard ramps in the sense that yard ramps are typically portable and provide access from the ground to the dock door. Yard ramps typically allow forklifts and small trucks to enter or exit a warehouse through the dock door. Walk ramps, on the other hand, give access to people on foot that use a dolly to move product in or out of the warehouse through a man door, not a dock door. Walk ramps usually comply with ADA and IBC regulations so that employees and non-employees (such as delivery personnel) can have safe access into and out of the building.

Typical Walk Ramp Layout Drawings:

Typical loading docks are approximately 48″ off the ground, so the threshold height for the exit doors are also 48″. A 48″ threshold height means that you need a 48′ industrial walk ramp to comply with ADA regulations. ADA states that the maximum slope for a walk ramp is a 1:12 ratio; for every 1 inch of rise, the walk ramp must be 12″ (1′) long. ADA also mandates that a walk ramp longer than 30′ must have a resting platform in the middle. Below are two typical layout drawings for a 48′ straight walk ramp and a 48′ switchback walk ramp that both include a 64″x64″ resting platform.

Read 10 Checklist Items for an ADA Ramp.

Aluminum VS. Galvanized Steel Walk Ramps:

Aluminum:

Aluminum’s best-known qualities are its light weight and high tensile strength, which means that it has an ideal weight to strength ratio for industrial applications such as warehouses. It is about one third the density of steel and much lighter than steel. Aluminum alloys commonly have tensile strength between 70 and 700 MPa, and the range for alloys used in extrusion is normally between 150 – 300 MPa. Tensile strength is the maximum amount of tensile (tension) stress a material can endure before failure, such as breaking or permanent deformation. Tensile strength is commonly measured using MPa, which stands for megapascals. As a point of reference, the tensile strength for structural steel is 400MPa.

When aluminum reacts with oxygen, a thin layer of oxide forms which makes the aluminum corrosion resistant. Some people choose to have their aluminum products anodized which simply means that an extra protective layer of oxide is applied through an electrolytic process. Anodizing aluminum will increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer which will further protect the material from corrosion, especially corrosion due to outdoor elements. This layer  of oxide is self-repairing when damaged and provides better adhesion for paint primers and glues than other bare metals. Aluminum is extremely durable in neutral and slightly acidic environments, but corrosion occurs quickly in high acidic environments. High acidic environments can consist of sulfuric pools and geysers along with areas polluted by acid mine drainage.

Steel:

Different grades of steel exist, each with varying amounts of carbon in them. Carbon is incorporated into the iron during a smelting process which involves controlled heating and cooling of molten iron. A higher level of carbon in steel means that it will be harder, but it will also be more brittle. Whereas lower amounts of carbon allow steel to be softer but more malleable. In general, alloys are much stronger than pure metals, so steel is stronger than iron and consequently more expensive.

Iron is commonly used in construction applications and is usually covered with a strong protective coating or buried within other building materials. Why? Because iron alone is not weather-resistant. The surface of the material readily combines with the oxygen in the air in the presence of moisture, thus, creating rust. That is the reason why consumers typically opt for a galvanized product. Galvanization is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to iron or steel to prevent rusting; the thicker the zinc coating, the longer it will resist corrosion. This process will increase the initial cost of the product, but will increase the life of the product.

The main concern with galvanization is that the zinc coating eventually develops a natural carbonate on its surface by exposure to the atmosphere and rainwater. The carbonate can become brittle and crusty and eventually split, exposing fresh zinc for corrosion. Since the zinc coating is thin, it can corrode up to the base metal exposing the base to the atmosphere and corrosion as well.

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