The Hidden Cost of Folding Rails on Scissor Lifts


Why Do 19 ft Scissor Lifts Have Folding Rails?

The new suite of ANSI standards went into effect on June 1st, 2020. These standard updates align the U.S. market with Canadian and European standards of equipment. For scissor lifts, the main areas affected are the addition of live load-sensing, stricter testing standards, and higher rail requirements. These higher rail requirements caused the majority of aerial manufacturers to standardize folding rails on their 19 ft and taller machines. Beyond initial costs, these new complex rail systems are introducing additional hazards around the U.S.


The Cost to Engineer Folding Rails

In addition to the large engineering costs the new standards imposed, there are also significant associated material costs. Hydraulic cylinders now need additional components to properly load sense, controllers must calculate real-time data, and higher rail sets require additional materials to reach new height requirements. These additions are driving high-cost increases and translate to higher equipment costs for rental companies throughout North America. Ultimately, these costs are passed on through higher rental rates and more expensive equipment for contractors when purchasing new.

PS-1930 No Folding Rails

Hy-Brid Lifts PS-1930 fits through a standard doorway.

PS-1930 fits through standard doorframes without folding rails

The Cost to Use Folding Rails

While some costs are easily calculated, others may be more difficult depending on a project's scope, duration, and specific labor rate. The applicable labor rate fluctuates based on region, specialty, and many other factors, but for this example, we'll use a company’s loaded cost of $70/hour.

The average 19 ft scissor lift meets numerous standard size doorways on a given jobsite, causing operators to get off the machine, perform a labor-intensive rail folding procedure, move through the doorway, then reverse the long process to properly set the rails in their upright position before continuing to the next task location. Many manufacturers' procedures require more than 10 steps and take approximately 15 minutes from start to finish before work can begin on the other side of the door. Utilizing our $70/hour rate and a machine meeting three doorways per day on a long-term project of six months, the new higher folding rails cost approximately $6,300 per machine on site. This $6,300 estimate is only representative of direct labor costs and does not include potential rework costs from machines that aren't properly stowed/folded and cause damage to doorways and surrounding areas.


The Cost of Workers' Safety

The new complex rail folding systems also introduce a large range of safety hazards when the folding procedure begins. To pass through doorways, most machines require the rails to either fold forward or within themselves. To complete this, either pins or other locking mechanisms must be engaged or pulled, introducing pinch points and potentially snagging clothing or safety gear. Another concern is if these folding rail pins get lose or even lost, comprising the integrity of the machine. In addition to these rail systems being a hazard in the folded position, they're also only effective when placed back in the upright position. Unfortunately, the temptation to leave the rails folded in tight areas exists on shert jobs and reveals a whole new grouping of OSHA violations.

Avoid Hidden Costs

The presence of scissor lift folding rails brings new levels of risks, costs, and safety hazards never before present on 19 ft machines. While there are risk mitigation solutions available through proper training and education, the best risk mitigation strategy is the elimination of the risk altogether. Enter the Hy-Brid Lifts PS-1930 scissor lift. The PS-1930 is the only 19 ft machine in its class with a stowed height below 76 in., allowing the lift to navigate doorway passages, reduce threshold damage, and decrease potential rework costs. Due to its shorter base height, the PS-1930 offers fixed rails that ensure operators are properly protected and meet all of the new ANSI standards. Selecting the PS-1930 for your next project not only ensures your team is working more efficiently, but working safer so every work returns home, every day.

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