Safety Is Always Important When Operating Vehicle Lifting Systems

A guide to ensuring long, safe vehicle lift service


All vehicle maintenance shops strive for maximum efficiency in all that they do, and lifting systems used to raise vehicles for repair and diagnosis can represent one of the most productive tools in a shop, maintains Steve Perlstein, president of Mohawk Lifts, a leader in lift technology (www.mohawklifts.com). Or, lifts can be one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment technicians use if they are not operated and maintained properly.

Not only does it make the technician’s job easier, but vehicle lifts improve performance, revenue and safety, provided the right type of equipment is chosen to best suit the application and is versatile and durable so the shop can benefit from its addition, adds Radu Pop, market research analyst and heavy duty equipment specialist with MAHA USA, a producer of lifting systems for both the automotive and heavy duty markets (www.maha-usa.com).

When selecting a lifting system, there are a few major factors that need to be analyzed before making the decision.

One is shop environment, including floor surface, ceiling height, power availability, access to the designated work area, space availability and position in the shop, Pop says.

Prior to selecting a lifting system - whether it is comprised of mobile columns, two-post, four-post, in-ground scissor or piston-style lifts - measure the ceiling height in the shop, says Dr. Jean DellAmore, president of Stertil-Koni USA. Stertil-Koni is the global market leader in heavy duty truck and bus lifts (www.stertil-koni.com).

Also note the height of the tallest vehicle that will be serviced on the lift, he adds. In that way you can determine if there is ample room to raise the vehicle to a serviceable height that will permit a technician to comfortably work underneath the vehicle.

Another factor that needs to be considered, says Pop, is the lifting capacity, method of engagement and service jobs to be performed.

Double-check the weight of the heaviest vehicle that will be lifted and “make absolutely certain” that the vehicle lift you select is certified to meet, or exceed, that threshold, advises DellAmore.

Type of equipment – fixed, mobile, plugged in or battery powered – also needs to be decided upon, Pop says.

In addition, DellAmore recommends selecting a lifting system that prevents unauthorized access to lift operation. This could take the form of a locked control box or a secure key or “wand” necessary to activate the lift system prior to use.

Then there is the matter of budget and getting “the most bang for your buck,” says Pop. The most important aspect is quality, but maintenance requirements and operational costs also need to be taken into consideration.

There are a lot of options out there and competition is fierce, especially now when price has become a major factor, he continues. This can work to your advantage. You might get a high-quality lift at a reasonable price, whereas in the past you would have had to spend a lot of money.

But price can also work against you, he warns, because buying a “cheap” lift may end up costing more down the road in maintenance and operating costs, downtime and lost revenue, plus safety may be compromised.

BUY CERTIFIED LIFTS

One way to ensure that you are buying a quality lift is to make sure that it is certified, says Mohawk’s Perlstein, and there is only one nationally recognized safety standard for vehicle lifts: ANSI/ALI ALCTV.

These acronyms stand for the American National Standards Institute, Automotive Lift Institute and Automotive Lift Construction, Testing and Validation, respectively.

This standard is administered by the ALI, a trade association of vehicle lift manufacturers which works with a nationally recognized independent testing laboratory to verify that lift manufacturers meet and comply with accepted industry safety and performance standards, he says.

The testing includes verification of the structural integrity of a lift’s systems and components, proper function of its controls and appropriate lowering speeds and overload protection.

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