Platform lifts function in a basic way that entails the raising or lowering of platforms, and they are usually installed in limited spaces where passenger lifts cannot fit. They take different forms but are primarily used in areas with potential government restrictions such as low-rise buildings. The lifts are becoming popular additions to buildings as they’re cost-effective and easy to install.
Types of platform lifts
For a clear understanding of how they operate, you must first learn their basic functions.
These types of lifts are installed on either side of the steps to assist users in accessing another storey while leaving the steps clear for other people. They provide a travel distance of about one metre and can either be used indoors or outdoors.
These lifts are designed to help wheelchair users to access another level in a building using a stairlift fitted with a level platform. The platform is usually installed on the side of the staircase that has a wall. They are suitable for various situations, including indoors and outdoors. And they can be used in curved or straight staircases with numerous turns or landings.
Vertical platform lifts
These types of lifts are similar to the common enclosed lifts, but they don’t have the same travel height, speed or capacity, making them apt for small domestic buildings. This lift does not demand plenty of building alterations when compared to the traditional lift. It’s installed on a wall and comes in versatile designs.
How the lifts function
The drive systems used in platform lifts come in three types, each with unique benefits, shortcomings and designed to different specifications. Modern lifts are fitted with an electronically operated Central Processing Unit (CPU), which moves the platform between different levels or initiates the motors.
Hydraulic drive system
For this type of system, the platform is attached to a hydraulic structure. To move the lift up or down, a button is pushed for the hydraulic fluid to be pumped from a reservoir into the structure. The resulting pressure extends the structure causing the lift to rise. To lower the lift, the fluid flow is reversed.
This system requires extra space for the mechanism to be properly installed. Also, the hydraulic fluid can release a strong odour, especially in hot weather.
Screw and nut system
This system uses a vertical screw pole with the same length as the beam. The platform is fitted with a motor that drives a nut installed to the screw. The lift goes up or down when the nut is turned by the motor, depending on the turning direction. Installation is often done on a supporting wall to stabilise the unit, especially if the travel shifts will be longer.
The drive nut and screw pole threads are susceptible to wear and tear, hence why they include an automated mechanism to facilitate routine lubrication.
Encapsulated chain system
This drive system utilises a chain covered with a unique casing to ensure that it doesn’t slip. The casing is highly-durable and made from polyurethane plastic. A gearbox and motor turn the shaft attached to the chain. The chain is either pushed or pulled as the driveshaft rotates, moving the lift up or down.
The highly durable materials used to make the components guarantee a longer lifespan for the drive system.
Platform lifts come with numerous features for customisation purposes. But they all operate using the screw and nut, encapsulated chain or hydraulic drive system. Self-lubricating features enable the machine to lubricate the gears when the lift goes down. As a result, this ensures that all the gears and threads are automatically serviced each time the lift is used.