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Despite conversations over cost and performance, perhaps the overriding concern of managers seeking to rent or buy lift equipment is ensuring workers complete the task safely. Manufacturers say their current roster of products seeks to address this concern in a host of ways.
"Load sensors and alarms, tilt sensors and alarms are among the common features that are on most mobile lift equipment," Disser says, adding that many models also offer "easier operator controls and more intuitive proportional controls for lift and steer. I'm not going to say that's new, but (manufacturers) have definitely cleaned it up and made it easier for operators to understand. They have incorporated redundant safety systems and even enhancements to pothole protection. When you add all these together, the equipment certainly has been equipped with advanced safety systems."
As the shapes and contours of facilities evolve and as manufacturers roll out new lift equipment to help managers keep up with facilities' needs, the process of selecting the most appropriate lift equipment becomes more complex.
Manufacturers emphasize that managers need to look carefully at the range of product offerings in their efforts to find the right lift.
"Sometimes, people have the perception that a lift is a lift," Ford says. "It's just something that gets me to that height. That's not necessarily true for a number of reasons. There are benefits not just among types of lifts but among brands, which provide different levels of solutions. So it's important to understand the full range of what's available. That's both in terms of hard numbers, like width and height, and in terms of features a particular brand offers."
Ford also stresses that managers must ensure that operators have a good understanding of the equipment they use.
"As far as training, that needs to be a higher awareness of safety and training so operators understand the particular lift they're using," he says. "Just because the operator used a specific lift yesterday, that doesn't mean they can operate any lift out there without additional training."
One essential resource for managers moving through the specification process is equipment dealers and rental agencies, manufacturers say.
"Facility managers generally know the maintenance projects that need to be done on a year-in-year-out or monthly basis," Disser says, adding, "They know where they have a hard time getting to." The key step is communicating these challenges to someone with the resources to help.
"It's a really good idea to call in a rental industry expert to do a site assessment of the work areas," he says. "By putting a list together, rental companies can give (managers) a better idea of what they need, so they won't need to mess around if there is an immediate need. A lot of times, those discussions can take place just walking through a facility."
Safety Concerns Take Precedence Over Costs