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Weightlifting with Hill-Rom | High performance collaboration from UK conversion specialists

Weightlifting with Hill-Rom | High performance collaboration from UK conversion specialists

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UK vehicle conversion specialist Bott Ltd have partnered with lifting experts Penny Hydraulics Ltd to provide a turnkey fleet solution for global medical technology company Hill-Rom.

Hill-Rom who have over 10,000 employees’ worldwide, provide solutions that aim to enhance the outcomes for patients and their caregivers. Established in 1929 with the vision of "bringing the home into the hospital”, Hill-Rom have grown to become a trusted partner to healthcare providers,caregivers, and patients around the world. The company partner with healthcare providers in more than 100 countries, focusing on patient care solutions that improve clinical and economic outcomes in five core areas; Advancing Mobility, Wound Care and Prevention, Patient Monitoring and Diagnostics, Surgical Safety and Efficiency, and Respiratory Health.

Safe and efficient transport of patients in or between rooms and to and from X-ray, surgery, rehabilitation and other hospital wards is a key focus for Hill-Rom as they offer a multitude of options to facilitate this task and to avoid both patient and caregiver injury. Many of their hospital beds offer innovative features such as extra-large castors, steering wheels or a smart 5th wheel, all of which make the beds easy to manoeuvre and the company’s IntelliDrive® system makes transport in bed even easier by providing motorised support.

As the hospital beds mechanically lift and lower patients, they are classed as lifting equipment. Lifting equipment falls under certain regulations including Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. These Regulations (often abbreviated to LOLER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. This includes all businesses and organisations whose employees use lifting equipment.

The regulations state that all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner. LOLER also requires that all equipment used for lifting is fit for purpose, appropriate for the task, suitably marked and, in many cases, subject to statutory periodic 'thorough examination'. Records must be kept of all thorough examinations and any defects found must be reported to both the person responsible for the equipment and the relevant enforcing authority.

Part of the statutory periodic thorough examination involves testing the lifting equipment’s safe working load (SWL) which is the maximum load the equipment can safely lift. To do this, the person carrying out the test requires test weights exceeding the safe working load of the bed.

Van racking and conversion specialists Bott Ltd were appointed as the conversion partner for the Hill-Rom fleet. For over 30 years Bott has built an arguably unrivalled network within the vehicle conversion industry. With key partners such as leasing companies, trade bodies, industry and regulatory bodies, Bott can call on a wide range of expertise to solve any businesses fleet challenge.

Having worked together on lifting equipment projects for many years, Bott Ltd and multi-award winning crane and hydraulic lift manufacturer Penny Hydraulics Ltd, worked collaboratively with Hill-Rom to develop a bespoke hydraulically powered lift, to lift and lower the test weights onto engineers’ vans for their hospital bed test visits.

Penny Hydraulics, who have been in business for over 38 years, faced a challenge. Sales Manager, Martin Oke explains “The lift needed to be high capacity, to easily lift and lower test weights up to 400kg in weight in and out of the van. In addition, the van spec was a Ford Transit Custom with a low roof height…squeezing a high-capacity lift into this relatively small space is not easy.”

Having an in-house design team, Penny’s engineers were able to work closely with Bott and Hill-Rom to design a lift before manufacturing the prototype. Martin continues, “Our engineers made lots of micro-adjustments to what was a standard brochure product, to come to the final Hill-Rom specification lift. This meant that we weren’t re-inventing the wheel. We took the best features from a standard Penny LoadLift and tweaked it to suit the specific van and goods to be lifted. This therefore offered both a cost-effective and a tried and tested solution for Hill-Rom.”

The LL250 LoadLift is a lightweight and compact lifting platform for loading vans quickly and efficiently via the rear or side cargo doors. The lift is a unique product in the market place as it is so common to see tail lifts on pickups, but to see a hydraulically powered lift on a van is extremely rare.

The Hill-Rom specification LoadLift was supplied to run off the vehicle battery in 12V. The compact design & folding platform maximise floor space and the low product weight offers low impact on the overall vehicle weight to leave more carrying capacity for improved operational flexibility and productivity. Although this helps with all types of vehicle it is especially useful for those in the 3.5t and 7.5t classes where remaining within the overall weight and carrying capacity limits are always of concern to operators. The lift structures are high strength and durable yet lightweight, helping to keep emissions low, maximise fuel economy and maximise payload. The LL250 hydraulic operation offers a smooth and fast action with control via an easy-to-use wander lead with safety features including built in overload protection, meaning that the operator cannot exceed the lifts stated working capacity of 400kg.

The Hill-Rom specification LL250 was designed, manufactured and installed as a proto-type at Penny Hydraulics headquarters in Chesterfield in 2016 and the project continues. Martin comments, “Following acceptance of the prototype, a further 11 lifts have been dispatched on a supply-only basis for installation at Bott Ltd as part of the full vehicle conversion. Further lifts are in the pipeline in the first and second quarter of 2017.”

Penny Hydraulics Ltd has grown to become the UK's leading lorry-loader manufacturer. Partnered with industry's leading professional and trade organisations, the company is an approved commercial vehicle converter for major vehicle manufacturers including Renault, Nissan and Volkswagen. Commercial vehicle body builders from USA to Australia and Hungary to Benelux, choose to partner with Penny Hydraulics to sell lifting applications in over 22 countries worldwide.

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