The world of inclined platform lifts in a commercial accessibility setting is riddled with failed attempts by companies trying to penetrate the Canadian market.
We are pleased to announce that we will be attending the Calgary Renovation Show this weekend. We will be right by the front entrance in booth number 149, so come on by and find out how you can make your home accessible. We have a wide variety of accessibility solutions that include everything from stair lifts to home elevators.
The show dates are:
Friday January 13th – noon – 9pm
Saturday January 14th 10am-9pm
Sunday January 15th 10am -6pm
The show is down at the BMO Center and we have a few pairs of tickets to give away. If you would like free tickets please email Andrew to get the details
While the primary purpose of an custom built accessibility lifts should be to provide reliable wheelchair access, this doesn’t necessarily mean the device needs to look like a piece of medical equipment. We recently completed a project for a client that required secondary wheelchair access up to the 3rd floor of an office building. There are a variety of products that would satisfy this need but this client had some very specific criteria. Due to the fact the accessibility lift needed to be located in an atrium full of glass and plants it was important to preserve the look of the space. The client required:
- A pit-less application – they wanted to avoided cutting up the existing concrete
- No machine room – the available space did not allow for this
- A full height car complete with a ceiling – they wanted to duplicate the feel of a regular passenger elevator
- Travel speed of 37′ per minute (maximum allowable by code) – The lift needed to travel over 23′
- Bi-folding doors – so that they did not swing into the hallway at the second and 3rd levels
- An aesthetically pleasing hoistway and lift – It needed to look like it belonged in the space
RAM CTL ACCESSIBILITY LIFTS
The first 5 points could be easily achieved by using the RAM CTL (commercial traction lift), as this would all be included in the standard product offering. To achieve the desired look we needed to get creative so we did the following custom work:
- Had Greywolf projects build a custom glass and wood hoistway finished as per the clients specifications
- Added a glass wall to the elevator car
- Provided stainless steel doors at the landing entrances
- Upgraded the lift with stainless steel trim inside the elevator car
- Clad the lift wall panels with a custom laminate
Accessible Home Solutions
Some days are problematic and quite frankly can be difficult, but not yesterday – yesterday was a joy. We were fortunate to be able to team up with the good folks at Hearts & Hammers to make a home wheelchair accessible for a Calgary family. Our scope of work was relatively simple, as we were asked to provide a porch lift to gain access to the home. This basic porch lift installation was completed in about an hour, but this in no way depicts the effort and time put in by the Hearts & Hammers construction crew. Weeks before, this dedicated group of contractors did some pretty extraordinary modifications to the home. They completed a bathroom renovation to make the space wheelchair accessible, replaced the carpet with laminate flooring, and widened several doorways. They also did all the site preparation to accommodate the new RAM Trus-T-Lift™ we installed
If you would like more information on Hearts & Hammers or would like to make a donation please visit their website
Portable Wheelchair lift
We recently delivered a portable wheelchair lift to the Air Force Museum Society of Alberta. This product was the perfect solution as they had several locations which required temporary wheelchair lift access. This portable wheelchair lift easily rolls to each display and allows everyone to view all the amazing features of the museum .
The RAM portable wheelchair lift is utilized when necessary, then stored away until another accessibility need arises. This was a far more cost effective solution than installing a stationary lift at each display. It also gives the museum the flexibility to move or add new attractions at a later date.
This wheelchair accessibility lift is not intended to replace a permanent lift, and must be stored away from the place of access when not in use. The Portable Trus-T-Lift™ in not required to be inspected by AEDARSA (Alberta Elevating Devices Amusement Rides Safety Association) due to its portable and temporary nature. Please note that portable wheelchair lifts are not intended to replace or alleviate the need for a permanent installation. Chances are if you are required by code to make a space accessible you will need to go the permanent lift route.
The small footprint allows for easy storage and manoeuvrability . The dimensions can be viewed at the following Portable lift sample drawing.
We recently completed an installation at the Prairie Moon Inn and Suites located in Consort Alberta. The contractor was looking at retrofitting a wheelchair accessibility lift into the existing building. We had limited space so there was no excess square footage available for a machine room, nor did the contractor want to chip away the concrete slab to create a pit. The end user needed a durable drive mechanism that could handle lots of use, as it would be the only elevating device in the hotel.Fortunately we had the ideal product for this situation. We utilized the RAM CTL, which requires no machine room or pit. The secret to this wheelchair accessibility lift is its compact traction counter weight drive, that fits right in the hoist-way. This system has passed the test of time and is 50% more energy efficient than comparable hydraulic wheelchair lifts. We were able to provide a lift platform of close to 21 square feet, and a 1000lb capacity, so guests would feel comfortable when riding in this lift. The interior car finish featured raised car panels (standard offering) with a stainless steel reveal.
I think humans by nature have a fear of being trapped in an elevator and therefore I usually don’t get through a sales meeting without one of the two following questions being asked:
- What do I do if the elevator gets stuck?
- What happens if the power goes out?
Both questions are valid and fortunately, we have a variety of solutions that can ease these fears.
I would start by saying that one thing you can do to guarantee piece of mind is having your elevator properly maintained by a factory trained technician. The second thing would be to ensure there is a phone in your elevator so you can call for help if necessary.
Ok, now back to the easing your fears about getting stuck in that elevator. The following are standard and optional features that can allow for a safe evacuation from your elevator.
Manual lowering (or raising)
All devices that I am aware of have some form of manual lowering. Hydraulic units typically will have a button in the machine room that will open up a hydraulic valve and lower you at a regulated rate. Fluid is released from the cylinder, back into the reservoir. Of course, this means you can only be lowered and never raised, even if you need to get out at the upper level which is merely inches away. Traction counter weight and ACME Screw drives utilize a gear reduced crank that allows you to be moved in both an upward and downward direction. The obvious benefit here is, in the event of a flood or fire you may not necessary want to be evacuated to the lowest level as the exit to your home may be on levels 2, 3 or 4.
Emergency Battery lowering
Battery lowering is useful in the event of a power failure where your major concern is simply being able to exit the elevator. As the name indicates the elevator will only continue to operate in the downward position. The intention is to have you safely evacuate the device at the lowest level.
Battery Backup (or DC operation)
This term is sometimes confused with Emergency battery lowering. A vendor may tell you “all our units have battery back-up” but they may be referring to the ability to lower only via an emergency battery system (see above). Battery backup or DC operation means that there is a battery system in place that allows the elevator to function when the power is out. A true battery operated system will allow the user to have uninterrupted use in the event of a power failure. The device will travel both up and down, and be able to complete 30-40 cycles while the mains power is out. This system can function using a variety of methods, but a unit like the RAM Crystal or Stratus switches between AC and DC power depending on the remaining charge in the batteries. This option gives you true piece of mind if you are reliant on your elevator due to an accessibility need.
The interlocks on residential elevators and lifts will have a tool that allows you to open the door(from the outside) regardless if the lock is energized or where the car is located. I would, however, caution you to never crawl out of a device that is between floors unless it is absolutely necessary (life or death situation) . Your first line of defence is to always call your elevator provider as soon as you experience an issue.
I would like to close by saying that getting trapped in your home elevator or lift is extremely rare. In my 18 years of experience and hundreds of elevator installations, I can count only a handful of entrapments that required a technician to rescue an individual.
Our Unenclosed Wheelchair Lifts are ideal when you need access to a stage, raised lobby or any rise under 2500mm (98″) , an unenclosed vertical platform lift (VPL) may be the ideal solution. These elevating devices can save you on construction cost simply because as the name indicates they are “unenclosed”, and do not require a hoistway to be built. They do not need a pit and usually, come with a fold down ramp to create easy access to the lift platform. These lifts when installed commercially must adhere to the B-355 code and be inspected by AEDARSA (Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Rides Safety Association).
If you are thinking about wheelchair access for your place of worship, school, community centre or any public building there, are a few items to remember when considering an unenclosed VPL for accessibility.
The following items should be noted and discussed with your accessibility lift consultant:
- Any lift penetrating a floor can not be unenclosed and must have a hoistway constructed complete with a lower door.
Lifts with a rise of more than 600mm(23.5″) require an upper landing gate or full height door with an interlock
- These lifts will require an under platform sensor to remove the crushing or pinching hazard
- The running clearance (if partially enclosed) can be no less than 51mm(2″) and no more than 102mm (4″)
- The fascia wall where the lift runs must be level, plum, and smooth
- Typical capacities of these units are restricted to 750 lbs with a maximum of 1 wheelchair user and an attendant
- All B-355 code compliant lifts (enclosed and unenclosed) are required to operate under constant pressure
- Depending on the application you may want to restrict access by making the unit keyed. A provision will have to be made so the public can call an attendant if the device is keyed.
- For higher rises, you may want to consider a platform gate that travels with the lift for safety
- A rough footprint of a standard platform will be approximately 4′ wide by 5′ long. A sample drawing can be found here
- Your lift will require an initial inspection, maintenance and an annual inspection
- There will be items not provided by the lift contractor such as emergency lighting , GFCI receptacle, and electrical disconnect
Over the years I have provided a multitude of these units to create wheelchair access in public buildings. Unenclosed vertical platform accessibility lifts offer a simple and cost-effective solution for your barrier free needs.
For more information on commercial accessibility lifts, including larger enclosed lifts that penetrate the floor, please click here
For information on residential lifts, please click here
When I think of making an environmentally sound decision, especially if it pertains to green elevators or a lift purchase, I can point out 3 contributing factors .
This seems pretty obvious but if you can purchase a locally manufactured elevator or lift, the transportation impact can be minimized. Buying local not only reduces emissions it saves you money on shipping costs associated with replacement parts.
#2 What impact could the drive mechanism have on the environment?
Devices that utilize large hydraulic pumps and reservoirs may need to have precautionary measures were taken, such as oil separators in the event of a hydraulic oil leak. This is to ensure that the oil cannot seep into the ground or water table. Some jurisdictions in the past have asked that food grade oil is used in order to alleviate this concern. Elevators and lifts that utilize a Traction Counter Weight or Screw Drive don’t actually pose this risk, as no hydraulic fluid is used. These greener solutions only require a 2″-3″ pit (or no pit at all) so there is less concern with disturbing ground water. You may even be able to save some money on your site preparation as hydraulic elevators can require anywhere from a 6″ to 60″ pit.
#3 What are the ongoing energy costs?
This cost is two fold; the energy consumed as it relates to the environment and the monetary cost directly to you. Do your research on how much energy your elevator or lift will require operating. Devices with a mechanical advantage such as a traction counterweight drive will be up to 50% more energy efficient that a comparative hydraulic unit. Hydraulic elevators have to pump fluid into a cylinder which is often located in a separate machine room.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to consciously protect the environment or simply save some money (energy costs, site preparation , and maintenance), it’s apparent that the two can go hand in hand.
Commercial accessibility lifts are a cost effective solution when it comes to making public buildings accessible. Vertical platform lifts or VPL’s can eliminate barriers for wheelchair users or those faced with mobility issues. Their relatively small footprint and minimal contractual requirement make them ideal for existing public buildings where accessibility is a concern. They do however have their limitations under the B-355 code, which they are inspected.
The first consideration is platform size. Public accessibility lifts are mandated to have a platform that is no greater the 21 square feet. A typical “large” wheelchair lift would have a 48″x 60″platform. This size of platform is big enough to accommodate a wheelchair user doing a 90-degree turn. A more common size would be in the range of 34″ x 54″ where the user enters and exits on the same side, or travels through the platform and exits on the opposite side.
Next, we must look at the travel restrictions that are imposed within the code. Enclosed B-355 accessibility lifts can travel no more than 7000mm or 23.1 feet. Unenclosed wheelchair lifts can travel up to 2500mm or 98.25″. Enclosed units will require a hoistway constructed around the device with a door at the lower landings and the minimum of a gate at the uppermost landing. Unenclosed units travelling more than 500mm (19.65″) will require a gate or a door at the upper landing. It should be noted that any lift penetrating a floor will be required to be an enclosed vertical platform lift needing a hoist-way constructed.
The weight capacity of wheelchair accessibility lifts varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but most unenclosed vertical platform lifts have a capacity of either 550lbs or 750lbs. Enclosed units usually have a capacity somewhere between 750lbs – 1400lbs.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of public accessibility lifts is the requirement for them to operate using constant pressure. This simply means you must hold the button for the device to operate. This is partially due to the fact the lift platform has no gate or sliding elevator door.
As universal accessibility for all members of society is now considered the norm , the popularity of these barrier free lifts has increased. You can find barrier-free accessibility lifts in most schools, community centres and places of worship.
For more information on commercial accessibility lifts please contact us for a free consultation