Special Needs Transportation

Wheelchair Lifts Boast High-Tech Innovations

Kelly Roher, Associate Editor
Posted on February 1, 2009
Photo by Sam Brown
Photo by Sam Brown
Today’s wheelchair lift manufacturers are in tune with pupil transporters’ mission to ensure the safety of students, particularly if the children have special needs.

With such components as folding platforms, hydraulic rollstops, handrails and restraint belts, their lifts increase driver visibility and passenger security to provide a comfortable ride for everyone on the bus.

The following outlines product specifi cations from wheelchair lifts designed by The Braun Corp., Maxon Mobility and Ricon Corp.

Vista-2 Series
The Braun Corp.
Winamac, Ind.
Contact: Greg Cook, VP sales and mktg.

The Braun Corp.'s Vista-2 Series is equipped with a stacking platform that offers a clear view of the lift door window when the unit is stowed.

  • Power: 12 volts DC
  • Pump rating: 2,495 psi
  • Rated load capacity: 800 lbs.
  • Lift weight: 384 to 397 lbs.
  • Installation depth: 18 inches
  • Usable platform length: 51 inches
  • Usable platform width: 33 or 34 inches
  • Floor-to-ground travel: 48 inches
  • Warranty: five years

    The Vista-2 Series is one of three wheelchair lifts manufactured by The Braun Corp. that can be installed in special-needs buses. All three models include a locking mechanical inboard barrier (IB) that folds up as the lift descends to prevent the passenger from rolling forward or stepping between the bus and the lift. When the platform reaches the ground, the IB flattens and serves as a transition plate.

    Each lift is also equipped with dual handrails, and a bridging feature allows the wheelchair user to board from sidewalks or inclines.

    Unlike the two other lifts, however, the Vista-2 Series includes a stacking platform — when it folds, one half slides on top of the other.

    Greg Cook, vice president of sales and marketing, says this feature improves driver and passenger visibility when the unit is stowed. “You’re not looking through the grating of the lift in the doorway; there’s a clear view,” Cook explains.

    Century-2 Series

  • Power: 12 volts DC
  • Pump rating: 2,495 psi
  • Rated load capacity: 800 lbs.
  • Lift weight: 358 lbs.
  • Installation depth: 18 inches
  • Usable platform length: 51 inches
  • Usable platform width: 33 or 34 inches
  • Floor-to-ground travel: 48 inches
  • Warranty: five years

    Like the Vista-2 Series unit, The Braun Corp.’s Century-2 Series wheelchair lift has a mechanically-operated outboard barrier that transitions to a fully upright position as the platform ascends.

    The company’s units also feature visual and audible warning signals to notify end users of unsafe operating conditions.

    Millennium-2 Series

  • Power: 12 volts DC
  • Pump rating: 2,495 psi
  • Rated load capacity: 800 lbs.
  • Lift weight: 356 to 408 lbs.
  • Installation depth: 18 inches
  • Usable platform length: 51 inches
  • Usable platform width: 33, 34 or 37 inches
  • Floor-to-ground travel: 48 inches
  • Warranty: five years

    While The Braun Corp.’s Millennium- 2 Series wheelchair lift includes the same components as the Vista-2 Series and the Century-2 Series, its hydraulic outboard barrier differentiates it.

    This rollstop transitions to a fully upright position before the platform leaves the ground, enhancing passenger safety.

    “The powered rollstop is, we feel, the best safety feature of all,” Cook says. “The platform cannot leave the ground until that rollstop is up and latched.”

    WL7 Smart Lift
    Maxon Mobility
    Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
    Contact: John Prahl, VP sales
    Maxon Mobility's WL7 Smart Lift features the Brain Box, a lift status indicator and diagnostic device, on the top of its pump.

  • Power: 12 volts, 60-amp draw
  • Pump rating: less than 1,200 psi
  • Rated load capacity: 800 lbs.
  • Lift weight: 450 lbs.
  • Installation depth: 18¾ inches
  • Usable platform length: 52 inches
  • Usable platform width: 33 or 34 inches
  • Floor-to-ground travel: up to 48 inches
  • Warranty: three years, parts and labor

    Maxon Mobility’s WL7 Smart Lift has an efficient, computer-generated geometrical design to provide more cycles with less power. The lift can support up to 800 pounds with less than 1,200 psi (pounds per square inch). Furthermore, the adjustable microswitches that are responsible for the timing of the lift have been removed, which John Prahl, vice president of sales, says reduces downtime.

    Prahl adds that the unit utilizes advanced technology, thereby eliminating many of the wires and switches that have become troublesome on wheelchair lifts.

    The WL7 features Maxon’s exclusive Brain Box on the top of its pump. This device displays the lift status and also monitors voltage and current draw, warns of improper grounding and includes status indicators for a variety of safety interlock functions.

    “The LCD screen on the Brain Box tells the operator what he or she did wrong when an error occurs,” Prahl says. “It also tells the technician what part or wire has failed when there is a component failure.”

    The Brain Box also includes a mechanism to stop platform drifting. Prahl says that if the lift begins to rattle in transit due to drifting, the Brain Box activates the unit’s hydraulic system to slowly re-energize it.

    The WL7’s platform is made of mesh to promote visibility for the driver, and the lift can be outfitted with several optional accessories, including a retractable seat belt and foam padding.

    The K-Series KlearVue
    Ricon Corp.
    Panorama City, Calif.
    Contact: Larry McNutt, western regl. sales mgr.
    The folding platform on Ricon Corp.'s K-Series KlearVue wheelchair lift provides an unobstructed view for the driver.

  • Power: 12/24 volt DC
  • Pump rating: 1,250 psi
  • Rated load capacity: 800 lbs.
  • Lift weight: 340 to 370 lbs.
  • Installation depth: 17.432 inches
  • Usable platform length: 54 inches
  • Usable platform width: 33.5 inches
  • Floor-to-ground travel: up to 51 inches
  • Warranty: five years

    The K-Series KlearVue wheelchair lift is equipped with a platform that automatically folds in half. Larry Mc- Nutt, western regional sales manager, says this benefits the driver, particularly when the lift is forward-mounted in the bus, because the platform does not block his or her vision.

    To ensure that a passenger is secure, the lift includes a fully interlocked restraint belt. “The belt must be fastened before the lift will operate,” McNutt explains.

    The components of the “Ricon Safety Zone” enhance passenger safety. The automatic inboard rollstop features Ricon’s Sto-Loc technology, which is a latch at the base plate of the lift that secures it.

    Standee handrails are on each side of the lift, and its outboard rollstop has a durable one-piece aluminum design with a “quiet-touch” edge.

    Moreover, McNutt says end users can reach over the platform and unlatch the bus lift door if necessary, which cannot be done with Ricon’s S-Series lift.

    Additional features include on-board LED diagnostics and a manual backup system.

    The S-Series
    The specifications and components of Ricon Corp.’s S-Series wheelchair lift are identical to those of the K-Series unit, with a few exceptions.

    The S-Series lift has a solid platform, and there are differences in the lifts’ installation depths and usable platform widths. The installation depth for the S-Series is 14.356 inches compared to 17.432 inches for the K-Series. McNutt says more space is needed to accommodate the thickness of the latter’s folding platform. Furthermore, at 34 inches, the usable platform width of the S-Series lift is half an inch larger than that of the K-Series. The added linkage on the K-Series platform accounts for the difference.

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