If you’ve ever maneuvered a heavy piece of machinery onto a truck, a trolley onto a curb, or even a wheelchair into a building, there’s a good chance that you used a ramp to do it. There’s an even better chance that you paid that ramp no attention whatsoever … and that’s actually a good thing.
From homes and warehouses, to grocery stores and construction sites, ramps are so ubiquitous, and so ever-present that they’re barely worth noticing – that is, until there isn’t one available. What’s interesting though, is that aside from all but the heaviest functions – mainly highways, parking garages, and sports parks – the desire to build permanent ramps have all but disappeared.
Let’s take a moment to look at why permanent ramps have fallen so far from favour – as well as at the alternative that has ramped up so rapidly (… no pun intended) to replace them.
Portable is Preferable
Ramps – simple inclined planes – represent one of the least complicated, but most materially exhausting machines ever devised. As pieces of infrastructure, they take up lots of space, and require lots of energy and resources to produce or remove. That’s why the preference for portable ramps in all but the absolute heaviest of functions continues to grow; and why their strength, durability, and ease of use have made them almost irreplaceable.
From lightweight, adjustable threshold solutions rated for 250kg, to ultra-strong transportation solutions rated up to 6000kg, high-quality aluminium ramps – available in single- or twin-plate, as well as folding or telescopic configurations – are ideal for maximizing accessibility as well as convenience. To that end, they’re more than just well-calculated inclines: they’re powerful accessibility solutions.
With a vast range of choices available, a person can normally expect to find a ramp solution that matches almost any application perfectly, regardless of whether it’s providing long-term wheelchair and disability access to a building, or for quickly loading and unloading heavy equipment at different locations.
Heavy-Duty Loading Ramps
Rated from 2 – 6 tonnes and with run lengths up to 3.5metres, twin-plate loading ramps are available specifically for either rubber-wheeled vehicles like cars and bobcats, as well as tracked vehicles like excavators. These super-hardy, open-tread ramps are pinned and strapped to thresholds of transport vehicles, and their aluminium construction makes them lighter and stronger than their steel counterparts.
Single plate, as well as folding and telescopic plate threshold and walkway disability ramps come in run lengths up to 3.6metres and are rated from 370kg to 1000kg. These fully adjustable ramps are designed to negotiate curbs, steps and other indoor or outdoor features; and their no-skid coatings and punch-plate surfaces make them the safe option for wheelchairs and mobility scooters in all weather. As part of an even more comprehensive solution, some models of disability ramps integrate fully with vehicle-mounted carriers.
Motorcycle, E-bike, and ATV Ramps
Folding single-, or twin- open-tread bike and ATV ramp ratings can range between 250kg and 700kg and are ideal for loading recreational vehicles onto truck beds or ute trays. These ramps stow away just as easily as they deploy (some folding models can be configured with motorcycle carriers) and their convenient carry-along size is an exceptional characteristic for whenever it’s time to get out and do some recreational riding.
Ranging from 300kg to 1000kg, these cargo ramps make walking cargo into and out of small trucks and removalist vans an effortless task. Available in either single plate or folding construction, these ramps have the same skid-resistant treatments that disability ramps have, and can maneuver quickly into and out of position during time-sensitive operations.
A range of folding and telescopic ramps designed exclusively for dogs and other pets are available in ratings up to 113kg. These ramps can be constructed from rigid plastic (to provide a skid-resistant surface) in an aluminium frame, or full aluminium construction with grit-tape for skid resistance.
In short, the range of available portable solutions – along with a host of accessories like lift tables and bike carriers – leave very little uncovered. There may always be circumstances where a ramp from a particular category would be more suitable for an otherwise unintended purpose, but if used within the proper weight rating guidelines, that too is a valid solution.
No Space, No Problem
Make no mistake: the undeniable disadvantage of conventionally installed ramps has always been the amount of space they require. They consume massive amounts of valuable real estate – horizontally and vertically – that simply can’t be reclaimed or reused without incurring even more cost and inconvenience for removal. As portable ramp systems have become more standardized in commercial and residential environments, it’s easy to see how having one of these permanently fixed assets is a greater liability than having one that can either be instantly relocated or indefinitely stored.
They’re Quick to Install
Portable units don’t require any construction works, materials or costs. Keeping the manufacturer’s weight ratings in mind at all times; installations can be accomplished in minutes without the need to calculate the angles of runs, rises and optimal inclines.
They’re Quick to Uninstall
Just as easily as a portable unit can be set up, its 1 or 2 piece construction means it can be rapidly taken down and relocated to precisely where it’s needed, regardless of whether it’s off the tail end of a truck or at a different entrance to a home or building.
They’re Quick to Store
When they’re not needed at all, their lightweight no rust / no corrosion alloys and compact construction allows them to be stored away until they’re needed. And with their heavy-duty design, it’s a process that can be repeated for decades without fear of damaging their folding or sliding mechanisms.
At the end of the day, for most uses, the gradual migration from fixed ramps towards infinitely more flexible portable ramps is a winning transition. There’s no disputing that they’re not only capable of performing the same functions of all but the heaviest duty static ramps, but that their ability to integrate with associated tools truly makes them comprehensive accessibility solutions. If you’re in the market for a ramp, make portable one of your main criteria; and don’t hesitate to contact a quality dealer who can show a full range of solutions that can meet your needs.