Lifting vehicles safely can be a time-consuming task, so features that enhance efficiency can greatly increase shop productivity.
SBF asked four vehicle lift suppliers to weigh in on lifts that provide the most safety and efficiency for the school district or bus company’s dollar. Officials told us that creating enough space for vehicle access, user-friendly lighting features and portability are important features for making maintenance easier for many bus types.
Because Mohawk Lifts’ TR-25 drive-on lift is surface mounted, it saves technicians valuable time. Installation is just a one-day job, Steve Perlstein, sales manager, Mohawk Lifts, says.
For additional efficiency, using a drive-on lift is fast and easy; the technician simply drives a bus onto the lift and presses a button. There is no setting up of or positioning of mobile columns, Perlstein points out.
“Hit a button [and in] 60 seconds you’re done,” he says.
The TR-19 and TR-25 19,000-lb.- and 25,000-lb. capacity four-post drive-on lifts offer a full 6 feet of unrestricted under-vehicle access, leaving plenty of space available for technicians to complete brake jobs and other maintenance, Perlstein explains. The four-post design also allows for extra space without side obstructions such as scissor and parallelogram lifts.
The lifts are equipped with 20-foot runways, and “wheels free” rolling jacks raise the tires off the tracks for wheel, brake and axle service.
Additionally, if there is a service issue, the vehicle is entirely above ground for a technician to see and pinpoint the source of the problem.
One particular safety feature, the multi-position mechanical locks, engage as soon as the vehicle starts to go up in the air, Perlstein says.
Mobile column lifts, such as Rotary Lift’s MACH413, its newest mobile column lift, unveiled in 2013, have gained popularity with school bus fleets in recent years because of their flexibility. A small mobile column lift like the MACH413 allows technicians to easily pick up virtually any vehicle in the shop, Doug Spiller, Rotary Lift heavy-duty product manager, points out.
“Because it’s portable, it can be used when and where it’s needed and stored when not in use. Plus, there are no installation costs.”
The entire MACH series of mobile column lifts offers many time-saving features to enhance productivity. They are battery operated with an internal charger, and no power cords to clutter the service bay. Easy to move adjustable forks reduce setup time without the need for reducer sleeves, with an adjustment range of 6.3 inches to nearly 2 feet, to accommodate tire sizes of approximately 9 inches to 2 feet.
An LED lighting system designed to help technicians work more efficiently is another highlight of the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) certified MACH413, Spiller says.
The lift’s batteries charge off the 110-volt outlets, so no special power requirements are needed for the lighting system, Spiller explains. “You don’t even have to charge them for most of the week. On the weekend, you can plug them in, and on Monday you’re ready to work for the rest of the week.”
Each MACH413 column features an identical patent pending control panel so technicians can easily operate the entire lift from the column that is most convenient.
The MACH413 uses three cables instead of four, forming a horseshoe, so the front or back of the lift is always open, and it is faster and easier to set up.
At 12,000 pounds per column, totaling 48,000 pounds of lifting power, the S1 lift, unveiled in 2012, is lighter in weight but still offers plenty of capacity for school buses, Gary Mason, vice president, SEFAC, says.
“The S1’s weight makes it easier to move around the shop,” he adds. “It has true one-person portability.”
For greater lifting capacity, SEFAC’s S3 offers lifting power of 18,000 pounds per column.
SEFAC includes an Acme-threaded screw product in the S1, which adds even more stability. “It provides safety because the load nut is in constant contact with the screw, meaning that the vehicle is not going anywhere,” Mason explains.
Another safety feature of the S1 is that it comes standard with a pendant control, which allows the technician to raise or lower the vehicle while standing away from the lift, so that he or she can move around the vehicle rather than standing by one of the columns.
“If you are standing at one of the mobile columns, operating it, then you can’t really see, but if you’re standing 8 feet back, you can get a much better idea of what is happening around the vehicle,” Mason says. “The [technician’s] always got to be aware of his environment, the height obstructions and people in the bays.”
SEFAC also provides training to any customer who requests it.
With its original double-scissors design, the ECOLIFT is ideal for working on low-floor vehicles, which are showing up in greater numbers in school bus fleets because they provide more access to riders with disabilities, Peter Bowers, sales support manager, Stertil-Koni, says.
The ECOLIFT, which has been on the market since 2006, is the industry’s first U.S. patented, ultra-shallow, full-rise axle-engaging, in-ground scissor lift, according to Stertil-Koni.
Available in a two-scissor or three-scissor configuration, total lifting capacity is 60,000 lbs. and 90,000 lbs. respectively, at 30,000 lbs. per scissor.
Efficiency benefits of ECOLIFT include high pressure, low-volume hydraulics, with only 3.5 gallons per scissor; a shallow pit of only 34 inches, which enables quick installation; and easy maintenance and service, as all power units and control components are located above floor level.
For extra safety, the ECOLIFT includes mechanical locks that are designed to allow the lift to park on the locks. The lift is also electronically synchronized for maximum safety and convenience.
In addition, the ECOLIFT is certified by the ALI and gained Intertek’s ETL Listed Mark, Bowers says.
Lift options include a detachable, wired remote control; biodegradable hydraulic fluid; and automatic wheel base positioning.
For more vehicle lifts from companies other than those mentioned in this article, visit ARI-Hetra's website at www.ari-hetra.com.