Self-leveling decking beam

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Doleco USA has unveiled the Level Deck self-leveling decking beam.

The patented Level Deck helps improve  worker productivity and reduces operational complexity and user effort. Smoother and quieter in its operation, the Level Deck system is also tough enough to resist forklift strikes and misuse.

Ingenuity plus determination

During his time at Con-way Freight, Steve Downing, the inventor of the Level Deck self-leveling decking beam and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, statistically demonstrated the advantages of captive decking systems over no decking, load decks and loose E-beams. However, after full adoption of captive beam systems throughout the company’s LTL operations, Downing’s continued scrutiny uncovered a number of shortcomings in captive decking technology, and like any good efficiency expert, he set out to dissect them.  

“While working at Con-way Freight I developed a passion for cargo securement and had the opportunity to deeply analyze the efficiency of captive decking beam systems,” said Downing.

“I saw for myself what drastic improvements could be enjoyed if issues such as beam weight, ease of use, premature wear, forklift damage, operational noise, release tool misplacement and uncontrolled beam travel during shipping were addressed.”

Downing set out to create a new type of captive decking beam technology that would correct the numerous friction points that his data showed were having a real impact on productivity. The result of Downing’s efforts is the Level Deck self-leveling decking beam.

Reduces step count

Level Deck doubles efficiency by reducing operator step count by more than half. Unlike other captive systems that require users to walk to both sides of the beam and use a system-specific tool to release and adjust it, the Level Deck can be released and adjusted by hand from one side or the other. No special tool is needed, and the beam can be released with a common dock hook, or fifth wheel puller.

Once released, the Level Deck beam can be moved freely, asymmetrically and easily up and down its tracks by hand. Once one side is at the desired set height, the opposite side can be slid up or down and automatically self-levels, locking itself into horizontal position.  

One of the secrets to Level Deck’s fluid operation is that each of its foot assemblies is equipped with a spring assist mechanism that essentially counterbalances the beam’s weight. As either side of the beam is pulled down, its spring is loaded, making upward movement nearly effortless – so effortless, in fact, that if released with just the slightest upward pressure, the beam will automatically travel to its ceiling height storage position.

The Level Deck’s foot assembly is also quieter than other captive systems because the loud ratcheting sound has been eliminated. The assembly achieves its quiet, virtually wear-free operation by using direct contact, rolling on Doleco’s LayerLok XP machined aluminum track with beveled teeth instead of holes or slots.

Captive decking system

The Level Deck’s foot assembly glides seamlessly, tooth in tooth, along the LayerLok track, eliminating the snag points common to other captive systems. The LayerLok XP track is made of proprietary, patent-pending materials that have a higher strength-to-weight ratio than competing products, allowing it to be designed with the thinnest track profiles in the world.

The Level Deck system can withstand all but the most severe forklift encounters. Its die-cast nickel aluminum foot assembly minimizes damage from forklift strikes, and its locking mechanism is designed to prevent upward adjustments by forklifts. The same locking feature prevents inadvertent beam travel, which can occur with some captive systems when loads bounce as vehicles encounter uneven terrain.

Doleco USA products are available in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico through the company’s Master Distributor network.