Features & Interviews

Commercial vehicle workshops: a look at column lifts

19 January 2023 #Features & Interviews

With a large variety of commercial vehicles passing through workshops on a daily basis, getting the correct vehicle lifting equipment is essential to their ability to carry out work quickly and safely.

However, choosing the best column lifts for maintenance and repair work, as well as MoTs, is not an easy one as they all have their own unique advantages, and each one fits a particular purpose.

MAN recently purchased a Stertil Koni heavy-duty four-post ST4250, heavy-duty vehicle lift, used in the servicing and maintenance of vehicles from 3.5 tonne vans up to heavy haulage vehicles at its workshop in Avonmouth.

Specified with 11.5m-long platforms, the four-post lifts feature a design that eliminates the need for cross beams thereby ensuring unobstructed access for operatives and tools to both vehicles and the lift itself.

This also means that users can choose the ideal working width to set up, depending on the type of vehicles to be serviced.

The Stertil Koni ST4250 offers a maximum lift height of 1.9 metres which is achieved in 72 seconds.

It features extra-long 1860mm articulated run-up ramps attached to the end of the platforms so that they rise up with the lift and tuck in to stop them protruding into the workplace.

Workshop engineers use a smart control system with a full colour touch screen to control the lifts and which can be used to programme a range of functions including lifting heights and lifting cycles.

Supplied complete with a full lighting kit and air-operated jacking beams for wheel-free maintenance, the ST4250 also features a manual override function to allow lowering of the lift in the event of an interruption to the power supply.

The ST4250 heavy-duty four-post lift was supplied by Northampton-based Stertil Koni’s distributor, Avon Valley Services, which provides aftersales support.

Mark Gowler, Workshop Manager at MAN Truck and Bus Avon, said: “Around 120 vehicles pass through our workshop each week.

“We operate from 6am to 10.30pm and the Stertil Koni 4-post lifts continue to provide excellent reliability in a demanding environment.”

Meanwhile, Northamptonshire-based K2 Recovery, which provides vehicle recovery and workshop services, recently upgraded its Kettering workshop with an electro-hydraulic two post lift and heavy duty four post lift from Totalkare.

The 12,125lbs capacity two post lift from the Kingswinford, West Midlands-based manufacturer has a base-free design and is ideal for when a fixed post lift is needed and the flexibility of a mobile vehicle lift is not required.

Due to its high load bearing capacity, the two post lift is designed specifically for vans, minibuses and pickup trucks through to small heavy vehicles.

Totalkare’s heavy duty four post lift is suitable for vehicles up to 72,750lbs, however K2 Recovery have opted for the 55,000lbs, nine-metre model, ideal for the vast majority of vehicles passing through its workshop for repair and maintenance.

For ease of use, the four post lift is available as surface or recessed mounted and is available with drive on/drive through options.

Dave Bown, Managing Director at K2 Recovery, said: “Our business has been expanding over the years and with an increased vehicle throughput, we felt it was the right time to upgrade our workshop equipment.

“The two post lift is perfect for any vans that come into our workshop requiring maintenance work, and the four post is ideal for the heavier vehicles.

“The equipment is allowing us to save time and money, whilst continuing to offer high quality services to our customer and increasing our workshop flexibility.”

Arriva Bus London have 14 garages across the capital and service and inspect a fleet of 2500 vehicles, partly using inspection pits, but also Finkbeiner electro-hydraulic wireless mobile column lifts supplied by Goole-based Everquip.

The columns are completely wireless with no cable connections between the columns with a lifting capacity of 16,500lbs each with a total safe working load of 66,000lbs for a set of four.

Each column is also powered on a 24V rechargeable battery and the unit is electro hydraulic with a single lifting ram, designed for simplicity.

The Finkbeiner column lifts, built in Germany, are especially cost effective to run, as one charge per week will power the lifts for up to five shifts of eight hours.

Everquip also supplied a three-year service and warranty package to Arriva London as part of its investment.

Keith Norman of Arriva London said “We are extremely pleased with the overall quality and ease of use of the mobile columns.

“The operation is more productive and with no cables or wires it makes the housekeeping a lot easier as well reducing the risk of trips on the old wired lifts”

Maha UK markets two Ma Star two-post lifts at three-and-a-half and five-and-a-half tonnes respectively, which the company describes as “simple but effective.”

There are two different types available – symmetrical and asymmetrical – with the former offering identical lengths of telescopic arms, while the latter can be altered accordingly.

Maha UK says that if the bulk of the vehicle’s weight is central, the symmetrical Ma Star 3.5 or 5.5 is the best option, so each of the columns can handle the weight in equal measure but that if the weight is more sporadic, the asymmetrical option will probably be a better choice.

The Wisbech-based company calibrates the equipment at the point of installation maintains its own equipment, and offers after-sales support and warranty packages to suit the customer’s requirements.

Neil Ebbs, Maha UK Managing Director, said: “It’s peace of mind for the customer – that’s the key to this – they will know where they stand in terms of how much they’ve got to pay every month, so, in the unlikely event there is a problem, they know one of our trained engineers will pay them a visit as quickly as possible.”

The ability to carry out work quickly and safely, maximise all available space in the workshop, as well as the potential to increase productivity and customer satisfaction are all key factors to take into consideration when purchasing such equipment.

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