All About Lifts
The Lift Rift! When it comes to light-duty lifts, cheaper is not always better
The two-and-four post lifts intended
for car and light truck work, in the 7000lb
(3182kg) to 14000lb (6364 kg.) range.
However, some Asian factories have
been known to clone North American
and European designs and supply the resulting
product to various North American
distributors, some well-known, and others
Often, these distributors sell the Asian
lifts under the same brand names, and
model numbers used when they actually
built product in Canada and the United
States, so purchasers should not assume
they are receiving the same lift.
At least one distributor is reputed to
purchase lift components from various
Asian factories and then assemble them in
an effort to come up with the lowest price
possible. Imagine the fun locating repair
parts if this importer/assembler ceases to
exist! The motivation for these actions is,
of course, price. Suppliers are vying with
one another to become the lowest-priced
source, which inevitably has a negative effect
on build quality, material, hydraulics
Asian producers can build in as high
or as low quality as you want to pay for.
The purchaser or importer calls the shots,
so the buying price is determined by design
quality, features, volume of purchase,
and degree of factory quality control specified.
As time goes on, prices will most likely
increase, as they did in Japan and Taiwan.
Improved quality, better materials, higher
wages, enhanced employee benefits, improvements
in working conditions, product
liability coverage, etc. all cost money but result in a better product. A higher
price can then be asked so that each lift
may produce much more profit, with reduced
service and warranty problems.
At this point in time there are only
two or three major lift companies actually
building all their products in North America.
The largest and oldest lift company in
the world is Rotary (Dover Corporation)
who still build their quality products in
Madison, Indiana, at their ISO9001 factory.
Recognizing the market for lower priced
imported lifts, Rotary quickly realized
they could not maintain their high build
standard if they purchased “no-name” lifts
from various Asian manufacturers.
They felt the only logical alternative
was to purchase the leading Chinese light
duty manufacturer, Hammecson International,
headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.
They did this in August, 2007. In no time,
this ultra-modern plant was functioning at
ISO9001 standards just like Dover’s U.S.
and European facilities. Like Rotary, these
lifts are all ETL-tested and ALI-certified or,
are in the process of same. Plus they carry
full product liability insurance just like the
U.S. products. Brand names used by Rotary
for these lifts include Revolution,
Direct, and Forward.
If you are buying new lifts, and the
label says “Made in China” what should
you look for? First consider the price. If
it is way below first class lifts such as Rotary
or Mohawk, this is to be expected,
because, the old truth, “You get what you
pay for” applies. If, however, the price is
much lower than other Asian lifts, beware!
If something is much cheaper there is usually a reason, and it is a good idea to do
Find out if local parts are available
from stock, and, if dedicated service personnel
are locally available. Find out who
is importing the lift, ask for a copy of their
liability insurance, a copy of their ALI certification,
and find out who they are and
how long they have been around. Have
you actually heard of them before? Remember,
the importer is the key player
in this scenario. If the importer is a fairly
well established lift supplier who has
been a market player for many years, you
may be fine, however if he runs a “here
today – gone tomorrow” operation you
may get a “Sorry this number is no longer
in service” response to your parts, service,
or injury call.
Remember, you are probably buying
from ajobber or distributor who is, buying
from an importer (even though his lift
might display a local brand name). He, in
turn, is buying from an Asian factory with
whom he has ‘cut a deal’ for a container
load. Next time he may find an even better
deal from an aggressive competitor of
this manufacturer. There are many, and
they come and go. You have no way of
knowing this, so you may receive a totally
different, and, possibly, inferior product,
and, if and when, you need parts, or suffer
breakdowns, you may be out of luck.
Consider this: You may save $500.00
or more on your purchase but what if a
major component breaks and you have to
wait two months for the next container?
Any functioning lift can produce $100.00
per day so, 44 days X $100.00 = $4400.00!
Simple math – the price of your bargain lift
is now higher than the most expensive on
the market. This does not even include
communication costs and the frustration
of dealing with someone who, perhaps,
doesn’t speak your language.
Does the price you have been quoted
include anchors, hydraulic oil, freight,
delivery, and professional installation,
by factory-trained personnel covered by
Workman’s Compensation? If the answer
is no, you can easily add another thousand
dollars to your buying price.
To summarize, your best bet is to buy
an ETL-ALI certified lift manufactured in
North America by a well-known company.
Take the time to ensure it is actually manufactured
in North America, not made in
China, and sold with North American labels,
decals, and paint.
If circumstances dictate the purchase
of an Asian lift, buy from a known distributor
who meets most, or, all of the
Price, of course, is not everything. For
obvious reasons we cannot name names,
but some of these imported lifts have
experienced catastrophic failures resulting
in death, injury and property damage.
As mentioned earlier in this article, the
blame for this can rest with importers who
really dilute their quality requirements in
order to offer that low-low price. Others
cut the price drastically to grab market
share, so there is little money left to enhance
quality, or to pay for good warranty
By and large you get what you pay for!
There are bargains, but you need to cast a
sharp eye on the product before you part
with your hard-earned cash, or risk your
Finally--and this is good news--manufacturers
such as Rotary, Mohawk, and
others who enjoy a major presence in the
truck/bus (Heavy Duty) market continue
to manufacture, virtually exclusively, in
North America to North American standards.
When you have 80,000 lb of iron
hovering above you, the odds should all
be in your favour!
A major focus of this month’s issue
is the “Right To Repair”. If an independent
shop wants to compete toe-to-toe
with dealerships, the shop needs to be
equipped with up-to-date, time-saving
equipment which meets the standards laid
down by the vehicle manufacturers.
The core of the equipment inventory
must be vehicle lifts. Ideally, each
bay should be equipped with a lift suitable
for the operations performed in that
bay. For example, a four post 12-14,000
lb fully-equipped alignment lift for each
alignment bay, a four post flat deck for
undercoating, 10,000 lb two posters (symmetric
and asymmetric) for general service,
and, at least, one 12,000 lb two post
symmetric for medium duty truck/SUV
work, and special lift adapters as specified
by the manufacturers, such as ,Honda,
Toyota, Range Rover, Mercedes, Nissan,
GM, Ford etc.
Many smaller shops get into trouble
using home-made or improper lift adapters,
so, if you find this to be an expensive
proposition, perhaps you could share the
lesser-used accessories with other nearby
shops. These special adapters are only
available from major OEM-recommended
lift manufacturers and generally not from
suppliers of import lifts.
A bay equipped with a good quality
lift will, as a rule, produce 35% more revenue
than a bay with no lift at all. Another
recommendation is that regulated shop
air, electricity, air wrench storage brackets,
etc. be supplied to each lift. Saves
time – makes money.
This article relates to vehicle lifts only,
however OEM standards apply to tire
changing, wheel alignment, brake work,
air conditioning, diagnostics, etc. No
doubt, well known manufacturers such as
Hennesey (Coats), John Bean, Hoffman,
Robinair, OTC, etc. would be pleased
to advise independent shops on recommended
tools and equipment enabling
manufacturer compliance which upholds
your “right to repair”!
Much, much more in the print addition of Auto Atlantic.
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