When selecting a new maintenance bay lift that’s safe for your fleet operation, there’s more to consider than the assets that will be lifted on it. It’s also essential to account for what will be under and above the lift – and how the weight will be distributed.
All too often, industry experts say, well-meaning fleet professionals and maintenance technicians choose a lift simply based on the weight of the largest vehicle or piece of equipment it will hold. But there’s more to the equation, and getting it wrong can have disastrous results.
First, noted George Survant, senior director of fleet relations for NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry (www.ntea.com), it’s important to remember that the base weight of an asset is one thing, but the weight of that asset when it’s on the lift, fully loaded, is another.
Here are seven additional considerations from Survant and Steve Perlstein, president of auto lift supplier Mohawk Lifts (www.mohawklifts.com), on choosing a lift with safety in mind.
About the Author: Fiona Soltes is a longtime freelance writer based just outside Nashville, Tenn. Her regular clients represent a variety of sectors, including fleet, engineering, technology, logistics, business services, disaster preparedness and material handling. Prior to her freelance career, Soltes spent seven years as a staff writer for The Tennessean, a daily newspaper serving Nashville and the surrounding area.
Safe Lift Operation Should Be ‘Intuitive’
What’s the main thing fleet professional George Survant would advise looking for in a lift?
Primarily, he said, that its proper use would be “intuitive.”
“What you find, in some of the older units, is that they have safeguards, tricks you need to know to make them safe,” he said. “But those tricks aren’t always obvious to technicians.”
He told the story of a mechanic who had a vehicle roll right off the back of a lift; certain supports were supposed to be upright as opposed to flat, Survant said, and the mechanic put up the supports in the front, but not the ones in the rear. “So as soon as he got it off the ground, it tilted backwards,” Survant said.
For those upfitting a garage with a new-generation lift, he explained, “one of the single most important characteristics is that the correct operation of the device is easy to identify. … It needs to be built in such a way that the lift won’t operate if the lift safety features aren’t engaged.”
Thankfully, Survant said, “the industry has taken a few giant steps forward” in lift design, especially when it comes to safety. “Back when I started, you had to fiddle with things all the time. You had to keep all your documentation in hand. And you had to worry about hydraulics. Units are nowhere near that complex today, and are so well-built and designed.”