Celebrating the innovation of platform lifts

Whenever an organisation, manufacturer or individual introduces a new service or product that can simplify a particular task for people, it is called an innovation. This is why the Platform Lift Company are celebrating the advancement of the platform lift on this year's Innovation Day, 16th February 2024. 

Today's platform lifts are far from how they looked 30 years ago; they have gone from a utilitarian 'steel box' to an aesthetically pleasing architectural product, which can be found as 'pride of place' in many forays of prestigious buildings worldwide. Thankfully, the days of wheelchair users being ushered around the back of the building to use goods lifts to access a building are long gone, thanks to the advancement in design and technology of platform lifts.

There are many improvements in the design of access lifts, so much so that there is little difference between their design and that of a passenger lift, apart from the slower speed. A platform lift falls under the Machinery Directive because its speed is limited to 0.15m/s. So, let's look at the advancements in the design of platform lifts and why they are so innovative.

Energy-efficient drive systems

The most popular drive system used for vertical platform lifts is a screw and nut drive system which consists of a motor, threaded steel bar and a large drive nut. As well as being energy efficient, this drive system saves space as the platform lift doesn't require a machine room or a pit, just an electrical supply. This system is reliable but requires regular lubrication to maintain good working order. 

But Motala Hissar would win hands down if there were an award for the most innovative drive system. Their patented guided chain drive system is lubricated for life, making it sustainable. It is also virtually silent in operation. The patented drive system is incredibly energy efficient as a motor with just 0,55 kW output, which is sufficient to control the lift. Again, this platform lift saves space because it doesn't require a separate machine room. Motala Hissar is so confident in the reliability of their best-selling product, the Motala 2000, that they offer a ten-year warranty on the drive mechanism and a five-year warranty on the motor and gearbox.

Home Lifts

If we are talking about innovation, then home lifts deserve a mention. Living was made more accessible for many elderly and disabled people with the arrival of the Stannah stairlift in 1975, and then came the through-floor lift. But with the current trend of future-proofing homes and the growing number of disabled people needing accessible living space, the platform lift has now been adapted for domestic environments. Most renowned platform lift manufacturers now have a stylish and compact 'Home Lift' in their collection. Customers have an array of options when specifying the colour and finish of their bespoke platform lift in the same way they might choose a piece of furniture.

Modular Design

A significant advancement in the design of platform lifts is their modular design, and they are highly customisable to fit an existing space and environment. Vertical platform lifts come with their own self-supporting shaft, which can be constructed onsite. This has increased the number of public buildings and commercial premises with wheelchair access. Vertical platform lifts can reach heights of up to 15 metres to access multiple floors. They are much more cost-effective than a passenger lift and eliminate major building work. Vertical platform lifts have also provided an access solution within historic buildings as the self-supporting shaft leaves the existing structure and fabrics untouched.

Cabin platform lifts

We have already talked about how the gap between platform lifts and passenger lifts is continually closing, which couldn't be more apparent with the design and build of the cabin platform lift. The access lift has its own lift car, so instead of seeing the shaft as you travel between floors, you have walls inside the lift, giving you the same experience as a passenger lift. As well as being much more affordable than a passenger lift, a cabin lift requires lower headroom requirements, making it much easier to install within an existing building. Engineers can install a cabin lift with just a shallow pit, eliminating the need for structural alterations. An existing lift shaft can also be utilised, which is an excellent solution for repurposed industrial and retail buildings.

Hidden platform lifts

You can't get more innovative than hidden platform lifts; they are genius, whether they rise from the floor or double up as steps. Let's start with the cantilever platform lift; this product is mounted in the pit and sits flush to the ground when not in use. When activated, the platform rises over the steps to reach the upper floor. Another option is a platform lift embedded into a flight of steps or stairs. When activated, the steps fold to a flat surface, creating a platform lift, enabling wheelchair users easy access to entrances and buildings with raised floors. Lastly, the FlexStep provides a 2-in-1 solution, operating as a small flight of steps and a platform lift. These access solutions are space-saving and ideal for sensitive heritage environments where unobtrusive adaptations are necessary to create wheelchair access.

In conclusion

Here at the Platform Lift Company, the innovative design of platform lifts demonstrated by manufacturers such as Motala Hissar and Liftup has to be applauded. They look stylish with clean lines and architectural design, are energy efficient and space-saving, and offer high-quality performance.

As an industry leader, we have witnessed how innovative design has taken a lifting platform to new levels to enhance ease of living, increase the number of buildings with disabled access and improve the user experience for wheelchair users and those with impaired mobility. 

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