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Last updated: July 22, 2020

vertical reciprocating conveyor liftLooking for a safer and more efficient way to move heavy loads from one level to another in your facility? A vertical material lift is likely the solution to your problem. These platform lifts transport materials from one level of a building to another, whether between stories or to and from basements and mezzanines. Check out more mezzanine lift images here.

While the technical name for this lift is a vertical reciprocating conveyor, or VRC, you might also hear these machines referred to by a wide variety of other names, including mezzanine lifts, freight lifts, cargo lifts, dumbwaiters, and freight elevators. Note, however, that VRCs are not classified as elevators, because they are only designed to transport materials, not people. This means that they cost less for a facility to install and maintain since they are not subject to the same safety standards.

Vertical material lifts come in a variety of different models that can transport anywhere from 300-30,000 pounds a height of up to 100 feet. They are a safe, economical means of transporting heavy loads in a wide variety of applications. Read on to learn about:

Benefits of Vertical Material Lifts

vertical material liftOne of the primary benefits of vertical material lifts is safety. If employees try to transport heavy materials between floors manually or even by forklift, they put themselves at risk of serious injury or even death. VRCs are a much safer way to transport materials. By reducing the need for heavy lifting or equipment, the mezzanine freight lifts significantly reduce the risk of employee injury, as well as the time and money a company loses from workman’s compensation claims.

VRCs also improve efficiency in transporting materials. Since no manual lifting is required, the vertical lifts allow you to move materials with less manpower and in less time. This results in increased productivity and a high ROI (return on investment). Moreover, vertical material lifts give you a better ROI than elevators since they are less expensive to install and maintain. In fact, mechanical VRCs are estimated to be 4 to 5 times less expensive than an elevator.

Finally, VRCs come in a variety of different models and configurations. You can customize a mezzanine lift to meet the unique transportation needs of your facility. Most models come with options for surface or pit mounting, ground level loading ramps, factory prewiring, different colors or gates, faster operating speeds, outside application, and more. Read on to learn about the most common types of vertical material lifts. (Plus, read about how a manufacturing company used a vertical lift module as a VRC here.)

Types of Vertical Material Lifts

VRCs are available in a number of models to carry loads of different dimensions and weights. When choosing a vertical lift, be sure to consider your load requirements, how you intend to load and unload materials, the features of your facility, and your state and local safety codes.

Box Lift

A box lift is one of the most economical mezzanine lift options. This versatile, easy-to-use lift is typically used for lighter, more compact loads such as boxes, carts, barrels, tires, parts, and more. It comes at the lowest cost of ownership, with low maintenance and simple operation. This lift seamlessly integrates into your facility’s existing workflow.

mezzanine freight liftThe box lift has a modular design which simplifies the installation process, reducing the time and cost of installation. It operates quietly and efficiently thanks to an electric brake motor with an efficient gearbox system. Operate the lift using an illuminated push-button station, which provides the operator with lift status information such as platform position and if the gate is open or closed. The unit is fully enclosed for increased security and offers an ergonomic dual loading heights option with a removable shelf for mid-height loading. Other box lift specifications include:

  • 500-pound lifting capacity
  • Carriage measures 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep
  • 8-16 foot travel height
  • Speed of 15-20 feet per minute
  • 2 levels
  • 66 inch maximum load height (30 inches with optional shelf)
  • Facilitates “C” or “Z” loading configurations
  • Single-swing gate configuration

Pallet Master Lift

A step up from the box lift, the pallet master lift is economical and easy to install. Also modular in design, it shares many of the benefits of box lift, with minimal installation time, low maintenance costs, simple operation, full enclosure, and seamless integration into your existing workflow. It comes with illuminated operator controls at each level, including an emergency stop button that will instantly halt the carriage. In addition, the pallet master and all larger models are equipped with a Soft Start/Soft Stop feature that reduces mechanical stress, lowers the risk of damage to transported materials, and increases the unit’s life span by enabling the machine to start and stop gently. A safe and reliable choice for transporting medium-duty loads, the pallet master lift maximizes floor space for efficient movement of materials. Other pallet master specifications include:mezzanine material lift

  • 5,000-pound lifting capacity
  • Carriage measures up to 6 feet wide by 6 feet deep
  • 8-36 foot travel height
  • Standard speed of 19-21 feet per minute
  • Up to 4 levels
  • 84 inch maximum load height
  • Facilitates “C” or “Z” loading configurations
  • Double-swing gate configuration standard

Straddle Lift

The straddle lift, also known as a two-post lift, is one of the most popular mezzanine lift options. It handles a variety of load sizes and can be adapted for a range of layouts and travel heights. The straddle lift features a top-mounted drive system and all-mechanical, dual-rope lifting system. It’s equipped with minimal enclosures for increased cost efficiency, with the option of additional security enclosures. Other straddle lift specifications include:

  • 6,000-pound lifting capacity
  • Carriage measures up to 8 feet wide by 8 feet deep
  • Up to 40 foot travel height
  • Standard speed of 19-21 feet per minute
  • Up to 6 levels
  • Accommodates flexible load heights
  • Facilitates “C” or “Z” loading configurations
  • Double-swing gate configuration standard

industrial platform mezzanine elevatorCantilever Lift

The cantilever lift is one of the most versatile vertical lift options, ideal for warehouses with low overhead space. Its one-sided lifting design allows loading from three open sides without compromising strength and stability. It comes with a top-mounted drive, which increases floor space savings. It also features illuminated operator controls at each level and an all-mechanical chain-lifting system. Other cantilever lift specifications include:

  • 5,000-pound lifting capacity
  • Carriage measures up to 7 feet wide by 7 feet deep
  • Up to 40 foot travel height
  • Standard speed of 19-21 feet per minute
  • Up to 6 levels
  • Accommodates flexible load heights
  • Facilitates “C”, “Z”, or 90 degree loading configurations
  • Double-swing gate configuration

Four-Post Lift

vrc mezzanine freight elevator

The four-post lift is designed for transporting the heaviest loads, and its scalable design provides platforms large enough to transport forklifts and cars. With a clean and quiet all-mechanical design, this heavy-duty lift safely and efficiently handles large loads. It also features a top-mounted drive system, quad-rope lifting system, rope safety brakes, and slack cable switches. For facilities with low overhead clearance, ask about a dual mast option which adapts the same capabilities for limited overhead space. Other four-post specifications include:

  • 30,000-pound lifting capacity
  • Carriage measures up to 30 feet wide by 30 feet deep
  • Up to 60 foot travel height
  • Standard speed of 19-21 feet per minute
  • Up to 6 levels
  • Accommodates flexible load heights
  • Facilitates “C”, “Z”, 90 degree, or pass-through loading configurations
  • Double-swing gate configuration standard

Applications for Vertical Material Lifts

vertical mezzanine conveyor liftVRCs benefit any facility that needs to move products or materials from one level to another. These applications include:

  • Warehouses
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Self and record storage centers
  • Automotive dealerships
  • Distribution centers
  • Retail stores and back rooms
  • Restaurants and bakeries
  • Breweries and wineries
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Universities and schools
  • Airports

You can also request customizations for specialized applications. For example, vertical material lifts are available with “rhino coating” suitable for a cleanroom environment. Other options include explosion proof and salt spray configurations, both suitable for marine applications.

Contact Us for Vertical Material Lifts

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services for vertical reciprocating conveyors that exceed nationally recognized safety standards. We will also provide you with a free consultation to determine your exact needs and specifications before the design process begins. To learn more or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.

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