Transit maintenance shops have more than just buses or rail cars to lift. There are often service vehicles and occasionally even other city vehicles, such as refuse or fire trucks. And while one garage may send out some work, the next might do everything in-house.
Choosing a lift for your operations depends on a lot more than just what you have in your budget. Mohawk Resources Ltd., Sales & Marketing Manager Steve Perlstein said the first and most important question is what do you want to lift? “Fact is, every mass transit agency is still going to have a bunch of little cars and trucks that do all kinds of things.”
Also, you need to consider what your future looks like. Will you be bringing on articulated buses? Some kind of hybrid? Different dimensions of vehicles means different accommodations are required. Rotary Lift Heavy-Duty Project Manager Doug Spiller suggested having someone come in to survey your fleet, vehicle weights and axle weight. “There can be extra battery weight, natural gas buses are taller … there are a lot of considerations to look at.”
You need to consider what type of service you will be doing; is it for a PM bay or a heavy-maintenance bay with engine replacements. Will there be multiple bays for different work or do all types of repair and service need to be done in one bay?
There are different lift styles and each of them has advantages and is best suited to certain applications.
Mobile column lifts are individual lifts used in sets with a master control to synchronize the columns. They are rolled into place, you drive on and the lift grabs vehicles by the wheels. The work you can do when the vehicle is supported by the lift is limited because the wheels are engaged, but the biggest advantage of this style, said Perlstein, is price and flexibility.
Maha USA LLC Regional Sales Manager Ron Reazer said mobile lifts aren’t dedicated to one bay. There’s also the option of wired or wireless, which offers even more freedom.
Compared to other lifts they’re inexpensive as you don’t have to do the infrastructure work putting a lift in the ground. Also, if you’re buying one with several jack stands, you can support multiple vehicles with the one set of lifts. Spiller mentioned the mobile lifts can accommodate a variety of sized-vehicles if there is a wide assortment in the fleet and with service vehicles.
A drawback to this style is that they take more room. They’re wider than the vehicle, so they will add almost 6 feet to the bay, said Stertil-Koni Sales Support Manager Peter Bowers. However, Spiller said the bay can be used for various uses because you can roll the lifts away.
Another consideration is that it takes five or 10 minutes every single time you are setting the columns up. “If you’re going to do just a basic PM, you want to be up, you want to be down,” said Perlstein. With any of the runway-type lifts, “You drive on, 60 seconds later you’re at full height.”
Looking at fixed-ground lifts mounted into the shop floor, they require a varying amount of investment in building infrastructure as there’s excavation and construction required.
Post-mounted lifts are two or four-post lifts that are mounted on top of the shop floor and lift the vehicle by the frame or, if a four-post, is a runway. You reduce installation cost when you don’t have to dig into the floor and if you will need to move them at a later date it is easier to do.
Parallelogram and scissor lifts are drive-on lifts with runways. Parallelogram moves the vehicle a short distance forward or backward while scissors goes straight up and down.
In-ground lifts utilize one or more pistons to raise the vehicle and require deeper excavation to accommodate the piston height when not engaged. Installation costs are higher for in-ground lifts while the lifts not embedded in the shop floor are much less critical installation because they are shallow.