They are available in many shapes, sizes and configurations and can be designed according to all kinds of specifications. In industrial contexts, platform lifts are used to serve building maintenance and construction purposes, automotive repair operations and a great variety of other tasks.
Common industrial platform lifts include scissor lifts, aerial lifts and many other configurations. In commercial settings, platform lifts can also be used for building maintenance; many large commercial buildings and institutions purchase a small quantity of platform lifts to reduce dependence on outside contractors for certain tasks.
Permanent platform lifts are also often installed in such settings to comply with wheelchair accessibility regulations. Platform lifts are also sometimes installed in private homes to improve accessibility.
Small, privately-used platform lifts are often comparatively low-power, low-capacity electric lifts designed to bear the weight of one or two people at a time. Industrial and commercial lifts, on the other hand, tend to be more powerful hydraulic lift systems.
Hydraulic lift systems harness the power of hydraulic pressure to raise and lower objects. In the context of platform lifts, a hydraulic lift involves a hydraulic cylinder, a connecting rod and a platform.
The hydraulic cylinder uses pressurized hydraulic fluid to raise and lower a connected platform. Within a hydraulic cylinder is hydraulic fluid, a collection of seals and flanges and a piston. When compressed hydraulic fluid, which is usually an oil or special synthetic material, is forced into a cylinder on one side of a piston, the build up of pressure causes the piston to be pushed in one direction.
The connecting rod, which is connected the piston, is forced away from the cylinder as the piston moves. This forces whatever material that is connected to the rod away from the cylinder as well. The force generated by hydraulic cylinders is enough to bear the weight of people, equipment and even vehicles for extended periods of time.
When the movement of the load bearing surface must be reversed, the hydraulic pressure built up in the cylinder is released, causing the piston to gradually return to a resting position.