A lift table (often referred as a scissor lift) is a device that employs a scissors mechanism to raise or lower goods and/or persons. Typically lift tables are used to raise large, heavy loads through relatively small distances. Common applications include pallet handling, vehicle loading and work positioning. Lift tables are a recommended way to help reduce incidents of musculoskeletal disorders by correctly re-positioning work at a suitable height for operators. Lift tables lend themselves to being easily adapted to a specific use. They can work in hostile environments, be manufactured in stainless steel and have equipment like conveyors, turn-tables, barriers and gates easily added to their deck plates.
Industries that commonly use lift tables include woodworking, upholstered furniture manufacturing, metalworking, paper, printing and publishing, warehousing and distribution, heavy machinery and transportation.
Common uses of lift tables include:
- Vehicle loading and docking operations
- Mobility impaired access
- Work positioning and ergonomic handling
- Load positioning (e.g. when integrated into conveyor systems)
- Materials positioning in machine feeding applications
- Pallet and roll cage handling
- Furniture upholstery
- Dog grooming
What Are The Different Operating Choices For Lift Tables?
There are 3 different operating types of lift tables. They are hydraulic, pneumatic and self-leveling. All 3 styles are different but have their benefits, depending on what the application is.
- Hydraulic lift tables offer the widest range of features and customization regarding platform size, capacity, vertical travel, and safety features.
- Pneumatic lift tables are offered in an airbag design which is limited to 24” of travel. The airbag lift tables may be limited but if an airline is the only power source available to run the lift table, an air motor running a hydraulic system is available. Pneumatic lift tables are commonly used in wash down or areas where electrical sparking can cause a concern.
- Self-leveling lift tables are mostly used for ergonomic applications. Self-leveling lift tables require no power at all but do require a fork truck in order to load or unload the full pallet.
1. Portable Lift Tables – Manually Actuated
Light capacity (usually under one ton) mobile scissors lifts that are actuated up and down by means of a foot or hand pump, or by a pre-loaded mechanical spring. These lifts are pushed like a handcart between workstations and typically used to ergonomically transfer and position heavy unit loads.
2. Portable Lift Tables – Powered
Low capacity (usually under two tons) mobile scissors lifts that are connected to batteries or building utilities and powered up and down via an operator pushbutton or lever controls. These lifts are easily pushed or pulled between workstations and typically used to ergonomically transfer and position heavy unit and palletized loads.
3. Self-Leveling Scissors Tables
Low capacity (usually under two tons), self-contained lift tables that self-level up and down by means of one or more pre-loaded mechanical or pneumatic springs. The spring forces can usually be adjusted to accommodate a specific range of load capacities, and the lifts are typically used to ergonomically position palletized loads.
4. Ground Level Scissors Table
Stationary scissors lift design which places the scissors arms and actuators outboard to each side of the lift to allow a very low profile (usually under one inch) elevating platform to be placed on or near the floor in between the scissors. This allows ground level loading via pallet jacks and carts, and is a popular alternative to mounting a conventional lift table in a pit.
5. Hydraulic Scissors Tables – Work Positioning
Hydraulic lifts are the most versatile and economic of all scissors lift styles and can be driven by AC, DC, or Shop Air power supplies. These lifts are commonly used to ergonomically position large unit or palletized loads (usually under four tons) to prevent the unsafe bending and lifting of excessive loads. Common applications are pallet build-up or break-down stations, end of conveyor stations, and assembly lines.
6. Pneumatic Scissors Tables – Work Positioning
Pneumatic lifts are popular due to their inability to leak fluid and their use of common shop air supply to power the lifts. These lifts are commonly used to ergonomically position large unit or palletized loads (usually under three tons) to minimize repetitive and harmful bending and lifting of excessive loads. Common applications are pallet build-up or break-down stations, end of conveyor stations, and assembly lines.
7. Mechanical Scissors Tables
Mechanical scissors lifts are often specified when accuracy and repeatability are critical, when loads must be held in raised positions for extended periods of time, or when used in “clean room” environments. There are a variety of mechanical actuator designs which can be used and are sized according to capacity, speed, and duty.
8. Heavy Duty Scissors Lifts
Heavy-duty lift tables (between 4 ton and 40-ton capacities) are comprised of single or multiple scissors mechanisms working in unison to transfer or position heavy unit or wheeled loads. These lifts use hydraulic or mechanical actuators and are commonly used in assembly lines, loading docks, mills, foundries, or other processes where heavy loads are common.
9. High Travel Scissors Tables
High travel lift tables (normally between 5 and 15 feet of travel) utilize one or more single-high scissors mechanisms to raise a wide range of weights and types of loads. These lifts require larger shop floor “footprints” to store the longer legs needed for high travel applications, and common applications include personnel work platforms, mezzanine access, conveyor lines, or other processes where large changes in elevation are necessary.
10. Multiple Stage Scissors Lift Tables
Multiple stage scissors lifts are comprised of two or more scissors mechanisms (or “pantographs”) that are either pinned or simply-stacked on top of each other to raise a wide range of weights and types of loads. These lifts are popular because they consume smaller shop floor “footprints” to achieve higher travels. Common applications include personnel work platforms, mezzanine access, conveyor lines, or other processes where large changes in elevation are necessary.
11. Portable Tilters
Portable tilters are connected to batteries or building utilities and powered up and down via an operator pushbutton or lever controls. These (normally) “high-hinge” tilters are easily pushed or pulled between workstations for the ergonomic positioning of bins, boxes, and baskets to minimize unsafe bending, stooping and reaching while removing items from these containers.
12. Ground Level Tilters
Industrial tilter design which allows a very low profile (usually under one inch) tilting platform to be placed on or near the floor in front of the unit to allow ground level loading via pallet jacks. Tilters are used for the ergonomic positioning of loads to prevent unsafe bending, stooping and reaching to access the load during build-up or break-down.
13. Hydraulic Tilters – Work Positioning
Hydraulic tilters are commonly used to ergonomically position medium (usually under four tons) unit loads, containerized loads, or palletized loads by tilting them up to 60 degrees towards the operator to prevent the repetitive and harmful reaching, bending and stooping associated with building up, breaking down, or accessing these loads. Common applications are end of conveyor stations, assembly lines, and inspection stations.
14. Pneumatic Tilters – Work Positioning
Pneumatic tilters are commonly used to ergonomically position medium (usually under three tons) unit loads, containerized loads, or palletized loads by tilting them up to 45 degrees over one axis to prevent the repetitive and harmful reaching, bending and stooping associated with building up, breaking down, or accessing these loads. Common applications are end of conveyor stations, assembly lines, and inspection stations.
15. 90 Degree Upenders
Upenders are industrial tilters designed to travel a full 90 degrees and back again, utilizing double acting hydraulic or mechanical actuators. Upenders are used as an alternative to cranes, hoists, or manual means to safely re-orientate a load by 90 degrees. Common applications are: standing up or laying down coils or other odd-shaped unit loads; palletizing or de-palletizing sheets, coils, or other stacked loads; or simply changing the orientation of a bulky or heavy object in a build-up or tear-down process line.
16. Pallet Rotators
Pallet rotators, or pallet inverters as they are sometimes called, are a specialized design of industrial powered turntable which is used to rotate a palletized load 180 degrees. The rotator is loaded with a pallet beneath its load – and a new or replacement pallet or slip sheet is placed on top of the load. Powered clamps capture and hold the entire stack as it is rotated 180 degrees. This equipment is used to quickly replace damaged sacks or containers located at the bottom of a palletized load, or to change styles of pallets.
17. Manual Turntables
Manual industrial turntables are used to horizontally rotate a unit or palletized load up to 360 degrees in order to “bring the work to the worker” in applications such as pallet build-up and tear-down, light assembly, and welding or painting processes. Turntables enhance both ergonomic and efficiency benefits by reducing reaching, pushing, pulling, walking, and twisting associated with palletizing and other repetitive operations.
18. Powered Turntables
Powered industrial turntables are designed to easily rotate heavy or palletized loads up to 360 degrees to enhance work station ergonomics (reducing twisting, reaching, walking) or to help automate a process that involves rotating a load to a specified and repeatable position. Whether a standard palletized cube of 48” x 48”, or a wheeled vehicle measuring 96” x 180”, powered turntables are an effective means of re-directing the flow of work in a minimum amount of space.
19. Manual Stackers
Low capacity (usually under two tons), mobile vertical lifts which are manually pushed or pulled between workstations and typically used to transfer and position (up to 12 feet high) palletized loads. Manually-propelled stackers can be connected to batteries or building utilities and powered up and down via an operator pushbutton, foot or lever controls. Common applications are pallet build-up or break-down stations, end of conveyor stations, and assembly lines to prevent the unsafe bending and lifting of excessive loads.
20. Powered Stackers
Low capacity (usually under two tons), mobile vertical lifts which are power driven between workstations and used to transfer and position (up to 12 feet high) heavy unit and palletized loads. Powered stackers can be connected to AC, DC or shop air power supplies and powered up and down via an operator pushbutton or lever controls. Common applications are pallet build-up or break-down stations, end of conveyor stations, and assembly lines to prevent the unsafe bending and lifting of excessive loads.
21. Dock Scissors Lifts – Pit Mounted
Dock lifts are stationary, high capacity (2 tons to 20 tons) lifts designed to transport wheeled loads between dock and truck, truck and grade, and/or grade and dock – normally within a total vertical travel range of 72” or less. These lifts are typically more robust and structurally supported than typical scissors lifts in order to withstand rigorous, dynamic, and concentrated wheel loads associated with dock loading. When mounted in a pit, there is no need for ramps to drive the vehicle onto the lift when in the lowered position. Also have full perimeter beveled toe guards on the platform, and a minimum of one hinged throw-over bridge to span the distance to the truck. Safety handrail system is also provided for personnel protection.
22. Dock Scissors Lift – Surface Mounted
Dock lifts are stationary, high capacity (2 tons to 20 tons) lifts designed to transport wheeled loads between dock and truck, truck and grade, and/or grade and dock – normally within a total vertical travel range of 72” or less. These lifts are typically more robust and structurally supported than typical scissors lifts in order to withstand rigorous, dynamic, and concentrated wheel loads associated with dock loading. When surface-mounted, a ramp is required to drive the vehicle onto the lift in the lowered position. Hinged throw-over bridges are used to span distance to truck beds. Safety handrail system is also provided for personnel protection.
23. Dock Scissors Lift – Portable
Portable dock lifts are medium capacity (4 tons or less) lifts designed to be used when no loading dock area exists. The lift can be pushed or pulled between the building and delivery trucks, and are equipped with on-board power units and quick-disconnect power cords for nearby receptacles. These lifts can also be equipped with platform ramps to get wheeled loads on and off of grade level, and have platform bridges to span the distance between the lift and the truck being accessed. Safety handrail system is also provided for personnel protection.
24. Dock Scissors Lift – Ground Level
Ground level dock lifts are stationary, medium capacity (4 tons or less) lifts designed with the scissors mechanism and actuators relocated from beneath to outside the platform in order to provide a very low profile (usually under one inch) vehicle platform deck on or near grade level. This allows ground level loading for wheeled vehicles without the need for either a pit or a surface ramp. A hinged throw-over bridge is used to span distance between the lift and the truck beds. Safety handrail system is also provided for personnel protection.
25. Coil & Roll Handling Equipment
Industrial lifts, upenders, and powered traversing carts – or a combination of one or more of these designs – are used to safely and efficiently perform a variety required roll handing tasks such as: down-ending a coil from vertical to horizontal orientation; transporting a coil from one station to the next, lifting a coil from a storage saddle; or vertically aligning a coil with a machine mandrel and feeding the coil onto the machine. Almost all surfaces of equipment associated with coil handing are equipped with V-decks to keep the coil captured and centered on the unit.
26. Die Handling
Industrial lifts, upenders, and powered traversing carts – or a combination of one or more of these designs – are used to safely and efficiently perform a variety required roll handing tasks such as: up-ending die to change orientation during machining; transporting a die from one station to the next; or lifting a die from a storage rack and feeding it into a press. Die handling equipment is extremely robust to withstand the rigors of handling and transferring loads weighing up to 50 tons.
27. High Cycle Lifts (over 100,000 cycles per year)
Industrial scissors lifts which are placed into repetitive, automated manufacturing or conveyance applications which demand more than 100,000 equipment cycles per year are typically equipped with several design features to greatly reduce equipment fatigue and promote quick component replacement during system down-times. These features can include lower than normal hydraulic system pressures, impact-resistant bearings, industrial cam followers, replaceable pins at all joints, and replaceable hardened alloy wear strips along all roller paths.
28. Air Cargo Lifts
Air cargo lifts are dock scissors lifts which have been specially configured to meet the unique application requirements of the air cargo industry. Though these requirements may vary somewhat from one company or governmental agency to another, most air cargo lift designs have the following features: large deck; heavy-duty conveyor; personnel walkway and guardrails; and electronic scales.
29. Sheet Handling
Industrial lifts, turntables, and powered traversing carts – or a combination of one or more of these designs – are used to safely and efficiently perform a variety required sheet handing tasks such as: indexing stacked sheet for in-feed or out-feed of process machines; transporting sheet from one station to the next; or rotating sheet to specified increments for machining or stamping. Sheet feed applications often require the integration of special sensors and controls.
30. Stage Lifts
Stage lifts are typically one or more scissors tables, or vertically actuated platform lifts, which have been synchronized to travel together for up to 25 feet with 2 to 3 different landings to stop and hold position with. The lift system is either electro-mechanically or electro-hydraulically driven by multiple actuators. Lift paint color is almost always flat black, and the deck surfaced with plywood sheets to accommodate various flooring styles. Typical lifting capacity is 25 pounds per square foot of deck.
31. Conveyor Interface Equipment – Work Positioning
Industrial lifts, turntables, and even tilters – or a combination of one or more of these designs – are used to provide personnel ergonomic means to perform the repetitive tasks associated with conveyor line processes. Work stations are often incorporated into a conveyor line for pallet build-up or break-down, component assembly, painting, welding or inspection. Conveyor interface equipment can enhance both ergonomic and efficiency benefits by reducing the bending, reaching, pushing, pulling, and twisting associated with many of these repetitive operations.
32. Conveyor Interface equipment – Automation
Automated systems often incorporate industrial equipment which can be programmed to change the direction or elevation of items flowing through a conveyor line. Industrial lifts are used to move items from one elevation to another, turntables are used to change the direction of flow of these items – typically 90 degree turns – through the line. Any such type of interface equipment requires the use of one or more styles of sensors to communicate the location and status of load and equipment platform positions. These sensor signals are sent to a PLC or other control logic computer program to automatically start and stop actuation of the interface equipment as desired.
33. Conveyor Interface Equipment – Indexing
Indexing lifts are typically placed adjacent to and just upstream or just downstream of a work station or machine center to index a stacked load of bar or sheet stock in incremental distances up (for in-feeding the center, the lift moving up as the stack is depleted), or down (for out-feeding the center, the lift moving down as the stack is created). Indexing can be performed in pre-determined or programmed distances using a vertical transducer and PLC, or indexing can be self-determined through the use of photo-sensors that have the ability to initiate upward or downward movement depending on whether the sensor is sees light (stack being depleted) or dark (stack being created).
34. Vertical Ram Platform Lifts
Vertical ram platform lifts are typically actuated and guided by one or two synchronized, large diameter hydraulic rams which are bolted to the underside of a large, heavily-structured platform. Ram lifts have very high lifting capacity ratings and high edge load ratings, and are very well suited for large, heavy vehicle transfer between landings. Though installation costs may vary, the ram platform lift is an ideal solution for any high travel, high capacity application with limited to small platform sizes: practically no moving parts to wear out, low pressure hydraulic system, and heavy duty construction.
35. Industrial Bridges
Industrial bridges are basically large hydraulic tilters that carry high static load ratings instead of dynamic load ratings as most are placed in service to temporarily span a horizontal distance and accommodate wheeled loads when fully lowered into place. The tilter platforms, or “wings”, are raised empty and stored vertically to minimize floor space consumption. These heavy duty platform lifts have high axle load ratings and can be small enough for a pallet jack, or large enough to accommodate two semi-truck trailers side by side.
36. Truck Levelers
Truck levelers are designed to do just that – level trucks of varying weights, lengths, and bed heights with the elevation of the fixed dock height. Truck levelers are typically actuated by two or more hydraulic cylinders located beneath (for pit-mounted units) or on either side of (for surface-mounted units) a ten-foot wide leveling platform. The platform is hinged at the front and structurally supported for the high axle loading of large vehicles. Truck levelers are commonly used at docks where many different types of trucks are used; dairies, distribution centers, automotive plants, etc..
37. Mast / Rail Lifts
Rail lifts are heavy duty dock lifts which have the unique feature of a cantilevered platform which rides on a set of rails behind the lift. Because there are no scissors legs or actuators beneath the platform, the lift has a low collapsed height and can be accessed using a relatively short approach ramp. Therefore, no permanent and costly pit is required, and the lift can be easily relocated to another position along the dock. A safety handrail system is also provided for personnel protection.