Dock lifts (docklifts) are work platforms used to raise and lower material, personnel and workpieces for loading and positioning. They are used in construction, automotive and garage service, electrical and power service, telecommunications, manufacturing, inventory management, wire and cable industries, painting and other applications where access to above ground locations is crucial. Important specifications when considering dock lifts are lift capacity, vertical lift travel, platform width, platform length, and actuation method. Lift capacity is the maximum force or load supported by the lift. Vertical lift travel describes the difference between fully lowered and fully raised lift positions. Platform width is the narrow dimension of the lift platform. Platform length is the long dimension of the lift platform. Dock lifts may be actuated by hand cranks, screw drives, foot pumping and ratcheting, pneumatic air cylinders and air motors, hydraulic cylinders and motors, or electrical motors.
There are a number of mechanisms by which dock lifts (docklifts) may be raised or lowered. These include scissor lifts, screw lifts, rack and pinion lifts, telescoping lifts and articulated lifts. Scissor lifts use linked, folding support members to achieve lifting. The lifting action occurs when the members are drawn together, typically with a screw mechanism. Screw lifts employ the mechanical advantage of threads to lift a workpiece vertically. Rack and pinion lifts function via a small drive gear (pinion) that drives a straight-toothed rack to lift the load. The telescoping lift mechanism has multiple sections that retract and extend into and out of each other. Articulated lifts have multiple sections that unfold or articulate to lift a platform or bucket. Cherry pickers are frequently articulated lifts.
Features common to dock lifts (docklifts) include tilting, rotating, wheels, hand or safety rails and truck mounting. Dock lifts may have tilting and rotating functions in addition to lifting. They may also come equipped with wheels to provide rolling for load transport and positioning; typically equipped with a brake or stabilizing outriggers. Hand and safety rails provide for personnel safety or to prevent load from falling or sliding off the lift.
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