What is a Liftgate and How Does it Work?

By Oleg Mikhailenko
Published in Solutions
March 11, 2022
3 min read
What is a Liftgate and How Does it Work?

If you deal with cargo for long enough, it’s only a matter of time before you see a shipment marked as “ liftgate required on delivery”. But what is liftgate service, exactly, and why would you need one for a delivery? Do you have to rent one, or buy your own? How much does a liftgate cost? And what’s a power liftgate? These are all questions that are bound to run through your mind the first time you read about this special requirement for one of your deliveries. Read the rest of this article to find out everything you need to know about this handy form of fulfillment technology.

What is a liftgate?

A liftgate, also occasionally known as a tail lift, is a piece of hydraulic or electric equipment that is installed onto the back of a delivery truck or van, which allows heavy objects to be lifted from the ground to the level of the vehicle’s tailgate, or the other way around. They’re required when there’s no loading dock or forklift at the delivery site for unloading purposes, especially when the freight is heavy enough that human beings might have trouble getting it down, or even injure themselves in the process.

To get a bit more technical about it, liftgates typically have hydraulic presses that force a piston through a cylinder, which then either raises or lowers the gate. Controlling the equipment is fairly self-explanatory - operators can move the gate through a simple switch box with an “up” or “down” switch. When the switch is set to “up”, hydraulic fluid is forced into the cylinder, which creates pressure on the piston. When the switch is set to “down” again, the fluid retreats back into the reservoir, allowing the piston to slide back down. Beware, though - this technology isn’t some infallible wonder-machine without a weight limit? The capacity of your average liftgate is anywhere from 1500 to 3500 pounds, and the cost will run you up to 7,000 dollars. A steep cost for any delivery service, to be sure, but its utility greatly outweighs the price burden for many as liftgates are almost ubiquitous in modern shipping.

What kinds of liftgates are there?

There are plenty of different kinds of liftgates, as there are many different types of vehicles to attach them to and carrying capacities they need to handle. Therefore, the definition of what qualifies as a liftgate is wider than you might think. Power liftgates, for instance, are occasionally attached to trucks in place of the more traditional hydraulic liftgate. These run on electricity instead of fluid-filled pistons. Typically power liftgates must be released using a keyfob before operation. There are parallel arm gates, which utilize two cylinders, one on either side, and guide the platform away from the mainframe. There are also rail gates, which operate completely vertically. Truckunders are also a popular option, as they allow the liftgate to be stored entirely underneath the vehicle’s load bed.

What is liftgate service?

It’s often the case that a delivery is going to a warehouse or final destination that doesn’t have a loading dock, a forklift, or the manpower to unload the freight. These places can include residential addresses, small shops, construction sites, and more. For this reason, heavy equipment that can’t be safely unloaded by human workers have to be lowered onto ground level through some other means. Liftgates fill this important niche, allowing cargo to be unloaded quickly and efficiently and with minimal effort. As this technology is common in the fulfillment industry, it’s not difficult to find a service which rents trucks or vans equipped with this machinery. Although many people don’t know exactly what to expect, there’s little reason for concern. The service acts almost identically to any other delivery service, with the exception of how the cargo is unloaded from the vehicle. If a liftgate truck delivery service is something you need to fulfill your unique business needs, you don’t have to worry much about any surprises.

What costs are involved?

Renting a box truck from your average leasing service can cost anywhere from approximately 150 to 1,000 dollars per day. This can add up quickly if you have a lot of freight to ship, but thankfully, many companies with fleets of liftgate-equipped trucks have bulk or discount fees available to large-scale customers. What’s more, you can find companies with liftgate capabilities by browsing offerings on the P2Pseller app or website, which leverages the power of a shared and democratic economy in order to let you find services that fulfill your requirements, in your local community, at an affordable price. All prices are listed up front, with zero stress and zero phone calls.

In conclusion

If you happen to see some text that says “liftgate required on delivery”, there’s no need to worry from here on out. With just a little bit of prior research and some thinking ahead, these deliveries will become just like any other. Liftgates are reliable, safe, and handy pieces of machinery that save time, money, and injuries. Register a free P2Pseller account today to browse hundreds of listings for liftgate-equipped distributors and order fulfillment services that are happy to partner with you to make your business grow. No matter the size, location, or unique needs of your business, P2Pseller is proud to offer access to the shared economy so you can scale infrastructure, smash profit goals, and benefit your local community.


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Oleg Mikhailenko

Co-Founder, CEO P2Pseller

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