The latest trends emerging from UK goods lift manufacturers
Automated design: Faster, more detailed quotes and improved lead times
There is increasing pressure for UK goods lift manufacturers and suppliers to supply detailed goods lift drawings to accompany a quotation, particularly if a lift installation is part of a larger construction or refurbishment project and architects and builders are involved.
Creating drawings in 3D CAD has historically been time-consuming and labour intensive, but some lift manufacturers are finding new and innovative ways to generate more detailed drawings in a quicker timeframe, so potential customers have all the information they need to make an informed decision about their goods lift purchase, typically on the same day they made the enquiry.
Utilising the latest design tools, it’s possible for goods lift manufacturers to automate design. In simple terms, design automation allows certain elements of design be re-used and repetitive tasks in design packages to be automated. A fast, simple interface allows the creation of both, quote drawings, as well as full manufacturing goods lift drawings, by picking from a list of various options and categories…all this can be done in minutes.
The UK’s leading goods lift manufacturer, Penny Hydraulics recently embraced this process on their range of goods lifts and as a result, won a Chamber of Commerce award for Business Improvement Through Technology. Since using the new process, initial enquiry drawings which used to take 20 minutes to complete, now take 2-3 minutes. In addition, full manufacturing drawings take just 5 -10 minutes and they traditionally took 2 hours to complete. What does this mean to customers? They get what they need quicker and that’s not just a price and an initial drawing. Thanks to reduced bottlenecks in manufacturing drawing design, they get the goods lift itself quicker too!
Keeping prices low thanks to standardisation
It’s a given that bespoke items are more expensive than standard off-the-shelf designs and this applies to most things, be it furniture, a new kitchen, or mechanical equipment. That said, when it comes to goods lifts for buildings, there is little point in purchasing a cheaper “standard” solution, if then, expensive and disruptive structural changes to the building have to be made to accommodate the “standard” sized lift, as any savings made on the lift price are swallowed up in the price of the structural work and that’s not taking into account the hassle involved in unforeseen structural works.
It’s not surprising then that most goods lift manufacturers offer bespoke lifts which are manufactured to fit the building perfectly, often with bespoke sized platforms too, to suit the application (a furniture warehouse will most likely require a larger platform that that used by a grocery store).
Modern goods lift manufacturers are finding innovative ways to standardise, whilst maintaining product flexibility so that customers still get the exact specification of goods lift they need. This helps manufacturers keep costs low for the end customer.
General Manager of popular goods lift manufacturer, Penny Hydraulics explains, “In the past, when it came to designing goods lifts, decisions had been made on an ad-hoc basis, such as when to split a panel, or put in a cross beam for a mesh support. Now that we use automated design to generate our drawings, we’ve had to create design rules which has led to standardisation. On the back of this, we’ve been able to look at ways to speed up manufacture, including having parts laser cut, bent and pressed. All of this helps keep prices low for our customer base and means that we can manufacture quicker than ever before. We’ve even had to employ another installation team this year to keep up with the speed at which we are manufacturing goods lifts.”
Increased working capacities for heavy duty lifting
As the boom in mezzanine floor sales continues as business owners strive to maximise useable space within their commercial premises, the market for goods lifts is opening up. Goods lifts manufacturers are seeing a huge spike in business from retail stores such as furniture retailers, as well as automotive workshops. Ever tried lifting a sofa or car engine up a flight of steps? No neither have we and it certainly wouldn’t be advisable or practical.
Manufacturers are seeing an increased demand in higher capacity goods lifts and are responding with heavy duty versions of their products to meet this demand. Penny Hydraulics Heavy Duty MezzLift, has a maximum working capacity of 1000kg. It’s a simple, robust and versatile mezzanine floor lift which comes with all the features offered by Penny’s MezzLift range including; full compliance with European Legislation; 12 months parts and labour warranty as standard; 2000mm high double gates at both levels; constant pressure control buttons are installed at both levels; self-supporting mesh shaft; same side, or through car loading; level gates fitted with electrical and mechanical interlocks; emergency stop button fitted to all control stations; platform levelling safety locks at upper landing; hose burst protection and overload protection.
Structural changes to the building? Not anymore
Structural changes to a building can be very costly, disruptive and may negatively affect the property value. Reputable goods lift manufacturers know this and design and manufacture the lift to fit the building, not make you change the building to fit the lift!
Self-supporting structures are becoming the norm and there’s no need to have a lift pit for most good lifts. All Penny Hydraulics goods lifts are manufactured to be installed without the need for a lift pit, including; the CellarLift range, for lifting beer barrels in and out of pub cellars; BayLift, ideal for lifting loads between different levels where the height difference is less than 1500mm, such as loading bays and docks and MezzLift, a goods lift that’s designed to transport goods between mezzanine floors.
The only way is up!
Striving to maximise useable space within their business premises combined with the competitive prices available on mezzanine floors, there is a trend for owners of warehouses, retail outlets and workshops to not just have one mezz floor installed, but to have up to four mezzanine floors fitted! This has led to an increased demand for taller lifts with more docking stations, to transport goods between the different levels.
Given the self-supporting design of mezzanine floor lifts, once the lift height goes over 4 metres, things can become challenging as deflection comes into play. Leading goods lift manufacturers like Penny Hydraulics offer special design features to support increased height. Their innovative “dual mast system” gives heavy duty support for taller buildings and the company can manufacture lifts to operate with 4 docking stations, for up to 4 floors.
Historically a lengthy job, with a minimum 4-man team on even a small goods lift, installation was disruptive, lengthy and costly.
New rapid installation services offered by leading goods lift manufacturers typically take between 1 to 3 days. The installation time is dependent on factors such as the size and complexity of the lift, as well as ease of access to the lift installation area.
The installation time is typically discussed and agreed at quote stage. New style, rapid installationteams will typically be made up of 2 to 4 installers and all reputable manufacturers will only use their own employees and not sub-contractors to ensure a quick and professional service every time.
In the past, customers would be left to struggle with complex health and safety documentation, now, goods lift manufacturers will supply all the relevant health and safety information required for site work, such as method statements and risk assessments (typically referred to as RAMS) and ensure that this is approved prior to installation ensuring a stress-free experience for the customer.
It’s the norm now for all goods lift installation engineers to be CSCS accredited and have extensive training in their field, meaning they are adequately qualified to carry out site work.
Cradle to grave philosophy
With technical products, customers want to know they will be looked after long-term. From expert assistance when specifying the goods lift, to measuring the site at the customers premises on their behalf, to project management and clear information throughout the manufacture stage of the project, all the way through to planning the installation, liaising with architects and building companies where necessary and finally, after-sales and knowing that any Statutory Inspections will be carried out and in the event that something does go wrong with the lift, that OEM parts are on stock and an engineer will be out to fix the product…fast!
Many goods lift manufacturers used to sell lifts on a supply only basis and another party would install the lift, that’s typically no longer the case. Customers want the full service and assurance that their lift will be fit for purpose, will be installed on time and will continue to work effectively for years to come. A single point of contact who project manages the goods lift project from cradle to grave is the future.
There is a definite trend emerging for shelving, racking, mezzanine floor and warehouse fit-out companies to partner with goods lift manufacturers to offer a hassle free, turnkey solution for customers.
Why? Well, dealing with one point of contact is much easier than juggling schedules, phone calls and invoices from multiple suppliers, so it’s understandable that people are moving towards having one company to manage the whole process.
This is leading to some interesting industry partnerships between goods lifts manufacturers and racking, or mezz floor companies across the UK. One of the largest sports retailers in the UK has seen a huge boost in productivity and employee safety thanks to a collaborative project between goods lift manufacturer Penny Hydraulics and shelving & racking solution provider Rapid Racking.
To maximise usable space and support growth of the business, the retail company had two mezzanine floors installed within their large Bristol warehouse to hold stock. The mezzanine floors were supplied by Rapid Racking, the nation's fastest supplier of shelving and racking solutions. Having worked with Penny Hydraulics on goods lift projects previously, Rapid Racking, contacted Penny Hydraulics to design, manufacture and install a suitable goods lift to transfer parts up to 500kg in weight between the ground floor and mezzanine levels within the warehouse. The companies then worked together to ensure the bespoke mezzanine design worked in tandem with thegoods liftto ensure safe automated handling.
As he old adage goes…2 heads are better than one!
At Penny Hydraulics, we don’t just know about the latest trends in goods lifts manufacturing, we’re setting them! Ready to find out more? Just give us a call today on 01246 811475.