Material lifts are machines with 2 forks and a crank which will elevate, position, and install a wide range of materials in all types of commercial and industrial applications. They are a big help when lifting heavy and bulky items up to 25 feet in the air. These lifts are ideal for installing air ducts, electrical fixtures, AC units, plumbing, chimney pipe, sheetrock, heaters, construction sites or ceiling panels.
Material Lifts: Lift Height
One of the most important questions about material lifts is how high you need to lift your material for an application. It’s also a good idea to take into account future lifting applications as well when you make your decision. It’s crucial to take accurate measurements and round up to give yourself some wiggle room. For example, if you need to lift approx. 9 feet it’s good to round up to 10 feet to be safe. Tip: the higher the lift can reach the lower the weight capacity it can hold. For example, a 10-foot lift has a lifting capacity of 1000 pounds while a 20 lift has a capacity of 650 pounds. Most popular sized material lifts are typically 10 foot material lifts, 12 foot material lifts and 18 foot material lifts.
Material Handling Equipment: Capacity
Equally as important as height, you need to know exactly how much your load weighs. If an accurate weight of the load is unknown, always round up on your best educated estimate. Remember the higher lifting height of a material the lower weight capacity it can hold that is due to the center of gravity of the lift. Some material lifts can reach loads up to 1100 pounds. A rule of thumb is to always overestimate the amount of load, so you don’t create an overload situation.
Portable Material Lifts
This is one question that is commonly overlooked on genie lifts and sumner lifts. Unless you're always utilizing a flat bed or big box truck from job to job, you need to consider the maximum height of your truck or cargo van. Underestimating the size of your material lift can make it difficult to fit and maneuver it into your vehicle. It’s a good idea to review the stored dimensions of material life before making a decision. Some material lifts are actually designed to fit in trucks and vans and are light weight compared to larger contractor lifts.
Material Lift Safety
Material lifts that are over 15 feet tall are mandated by law to have stabilizers built in since the center of gravity is high. Smaller material lifts are not required to have side stabilizers, but if the material being lifted is oversized or bulky, adding on stabilizers would be a necessary safety feature for material handling equipment. Both Sumner lifts and Genie Lifts have this option
Material Lifting: Fitting through a doorway
Larger material handling equipment like contractor lifts are typically used in a warehouse or shipping facility, these machines vary from 10-25 feet in height and have capacities from 650 – 1000 LBS. But all are not alike, manufacturers like Sumner lift, Liftsmart and Genie lift make 2 styles. The lesser expensive contractor lift cannot roll through a doorway without tilting it on its transport wheels, the more heavy duty versions of these lifts have more mast sections, typically weigh more but when in a stowed position will roll through a standard doorway or elevator. Other options are counterweight material lifts, straddle base material lifts and compact material lifts
Lifting Material: Safety
Safety is always a concern when lifting heavy items overhead, one overlooked safety accessory is the safety brake. It’s a factory installed brake that in the event of a cable breaking during regular operation the mast sections will lock in place preventing possible injury. Think of these brakes as the brakes on an elevator in the event of a cable or motor failure.
Material Lifts Summary:
Buying a material lift is a large investment, if unsure of what size material handling equipment you will need, try renting one from a rental house, Home Depot or Lowes the most common rental is the genie lift in most rental houses. This way you can also speak to an expert about the costs of ownership for replacement parts or what customers near you are purchasing and what the sales have been on certain machine sizes.