Distribution Dollies

Types Available

There are all manner of shapes and sizes of dolly. Most can be stacked several high when empty. Dollies are usually made of plastic, with metal wheel mountings. There are also many metal versions on the market.

Low Volume Rentals

Dollies can be rented by time x volume or on a trip x volume basis (or various complicated variations). You may be required to pay a deposit.

High Volume Rentals

A rental company may agree to purchase a new distinct fleet just for your supply chain. In fact, a rental company may come into existence with the sole purpose of renting dollies to you.

If they are to own the dollies, they will want the final say on the design. They will have one eye on extending the rental service to other companies, subject to the agreement you have with them. If you have an interest in the rental company attracting more users, you may need to compromise on the design so that it is not too exclusive.

High Volume Purchasers

Most important: get the design absolutely right, remembering always that the design can never be right.

This contradiction is a reflection of the tremendous cost in retrofitting, scrapping or trying to sell off a fleet of unwanted dollies versus the cost of the resources required trying to get the specification right. Just tell the buyer to press the button and buy them. Then sack him and blame him for every ill in your business. OR you could use our modelling system to get the dolly specification right and an independent CAD consultant to work with all users to at least try to please all the people all of the time. Contact us.

The Best Deal


Before deciding on which company to use it is important to consider what you are trying to achieve. You are trying to reduce your cost per trip, right?

Compare the new cost/benefit scenario with the current cost benefit and don’t get too hung up on comparing supplier with supplier.

Don’t forget CPT – cost per trip!

Have a well prepared tender. Do not get hand-held and coached by the supplier. You are in charge. If you do not have in-house expertise, then hire us.


You need to know who is out there and what kind of organisation they are. Do you buy in from a lower cost source overseas or buy from closer to home?

We are in regular contact with the larger producers, both UK and overseas. We also have links with smaller independent manufacturers.

DON’T re-invent the wheel! You may not need to commission a new product. Used dollies occasionally come onto the market. You may not need to buy new.

It is important to consider what will happen in the future. Is this a lifetime purchase or do you see the new dollies being upgraded or swapped in a few years? Which supplier can provide decent models for distribution trials? What is their track record?

If you decide to use radio frequency tagging (RFID), do you develop/procure the chips/system/hardware, and get the RF tag manufacturer to fit them, or do you ask the dolly manufacturer to do this (or something in between). Do you have RFID expertise to contribute to the tender?

Once again, make sure the tender is detailed and well prepared. Contact us to help/advise on tender compilation.


Dolly manufactures will usually buy in the castors, which make up a considerable proportion of the total cost of the product. You can leave the castor specification and procurement entirely up to the distribution dolly supplier or you may wish to be more “hands-on” in this area. Just remember that the quality of the wheels will have considerable impact on the maintenance that will be required – and on your operation. In fact, correct wheel selection is vital.

Also, consider what the castors are expected to do: in many operations dollies do not travel great distances – a few metres to a marshalling area, a few metres onto the vehicle etc. They may not go far, but may be subjected to varying qualities of terrain. If they are to be pushed across uneven rough ground you will need to ensure that the wheels (and their mountings) can withstand this. In many cases, wheels should be considered more for their short-term robustness than their long term wear. It is no good having a distribution dolly whose wheels will last 500 miles but fail over rough terrain.


Consideration of maintenance is essential when purchasing dollies. How costly are spare parts? What are the order lead times? Who will carry out repairs? What training is required?

Watch that you don’t swap a low capital outlay for a high revenue cost. If parts are expensive and have to be shipped in from Lithuania at 3 months order lead time, then you could be faced with a some problems!

You may wish to contract the manufacturer to also repair/refurbish dollies. There is an obvious conflict of interest here. However, it may make sense if the manufacturer has the expertise and can buy in parts more cheaply than you or another contractor. It may be worth considering a lease deal where the manufacturer guarantees you the supply of a certain number of dollies in good working order. They would be responsible for all repairs etc and would own the fleet at all times. If such a deal were to be agreed, the manufacturer would need to take account of the write-off cost and would need to factor this in to the deal, OR would need a long enough contract to ensure that the fleet was already paid for if and when you longer needed them.