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Hydraulic Lifts: A Comprehensive Guide

Hydraulic Lifts: A Comprehensive Guide

Hydraulic lifts are powerful devices used to handle heavy loads in manufacturing warehouses, construction sites, and other industrial environments. Available in a range of designs, these ergonomic lifting solutions enhance the safety and efficiency of various material handling tasks. Below, we provide a general overview of hydraulic lifts, including the following topics:

What is a Hydraulic Lift?

Hydraulic lifts use a hydraulic cylinder system to lift, move, and position heavy loads. While their designs vary depending on the intended application, all hydraulic lifts function using the same basic components:

  • A hydraulic cylinder enclosing a piston
  • A reservoir for oil storage
  • A pump for generating fluid energy
  • A motor for generating mechanical power
  • Valves for manipulating fluid flow

How do Hydraulic Lifts Function?

During lift operation, a pump pushes an incompressible oil from the oil reservoir to the cylinder. This pushes the piston upward, providing the force necessary to raise the lift. Once the desired height is reached, the pump is switched off and the lift is held securely in position by the oil trapped within the cylinder. To return the lift to its original position, a valve is opened to release oil back into the reservoir, and the piston is lowered by gravitational force.

Depending on the position, size, and operation of the cylinder, hydraulic lifts can be categorized as holed or hole-less systems. With holed hydraulic systems, the cylinder extends into a hole in the ground at a distance that is equivalent to the lift’s maximum vertical travel height. In contrast, hole-less hydraulic systems use a direct-acting piston to raise the lift, eliminating the need for a hole.

Hydraulic lifts consist of several interacting systems:

  • Circuits. A hydraulic circuit is designed to control the flow and pressure of the liquid.
    Pump. Hydraulic pumps are responsible for converting mechanical energy to hydraulic energy. The mechanical action of the pump creates a vacuum at the inlet. This forces the liquid to move from the reservoir to the inlet line, then through the outlet to the hydraulic system.
  • Motor. The hydraulic motor is a rotary actuator that converts hydraulic energy into torque and rotation.
  • Cylinder. The cylinder converts hydraulic fluid energy into force and creates pressure in the fluid.
  • Piston. The hydraulic piston, which is housed within the cylinder, moves upward in response to fluid pressure.
  • Fluid. The hydraulic fluid allows power to be transferred throughout the system. While water and mineral oil are the most common hydraulic fluids, other options include:
    • Glycol ether
    • Organophosphate ester
    • Polyalphaolefin
    • Propylene glycol
    • Silicone oil

Types Of Hydraulic Lifts

Hydraulic lifts are available in several types, each of which is optimized to meet specific load, safety, and mobility requirements. These include:

  • Table lifts. Available in scissor or column-type designs, table lifts are ideal for lifting heavy loads across relatively short vertical distances.
  • Personnel lifts. Personnel lifts are designed to safely raise personnel above ground level for maintenance, stocking, and other activities. Lightweight and portable, these lifts are suited for applications in which space is limited or weight is a concern.
  • Forklifts. Forklifts are powerful devices that lift and transport heavy loads in warehouses, construction sites, and other industrial settings.
  • Medical lifts. In the medical industry, medical lifts allow patients with limited mobility to be easily and safely moved by caregivers.
  • Automotive lifts. Automotive lifts are designed to elevate vehicles to a comfortable working height for maintenance and repair tasks.
  • Post car lifts. Post car lifts feature sturdy symmetrical columns positioned directly across from one another. This design aligns the vehicle’s center of gravity with the lift, ensuring that the load is evenly distributed across the columns, carriage, and bearings.
  • Platform lifts. Platform lifts feature a supportive platform that is raised and lowered using crisscrossing braces. These lifts are useful for ceiling construction, cable wiring, and other tasks performed at elevated levels.
  • Pallet lifts. Pallet jacks are used to lift and transport pallets and palletized loads in warehouses and trailers.
  • Hand-pumped lifts. Designed for manual operation, hand-pumped lifts utilize a hydraulic hand pump to raise and lower loads.

Types of Hydraulic Lift Tables

Hydraulic lift tables safely raise and lower loads in heavy-duty material handling processes. Types of lift tables include:

  • Mobile. Mobile lift tables are portable solutions for raising and accurately positioning heavy loads. Commonly used in warehouses and manufacturing plants, they help prevent strains and injuries related to the handling and inspection of heavy or bulky items.
  • Rotating. Ideal for assembly applications, rotating lifts are equipped with a rotating top that allows easy access from multiple sides.
    Low profile. With their low collapsed height, low profile lift tables allow for ergonomic lifting of heavy loads from the floor. Their design also provides easy access for pallet jacks.
  • Stainless steel. Stainless steel lift tables offer a durable and corrosion-resistant solution for handling loads in corrosive or harsh industrial environments.
  • High capacity. Ideal for large loads and heavy cargo, high-capacity lift tables feature a robust and durable platform with a wide base to maximize stability.
  • Ground entry. Ground entry lift tables provide access to pallet jacks for easy loading and unloading. Loads can also be positioned to various ergonomic working heights for inspection, maintenance, and other tasks.
  • Tilting. Tilting lift tables feature lift heights and tilt angles that can be independently controlled, making them great for applications requiring precise positioning of large loads.
  • Tandem. Tandem lift tables incorporate two standard base frames connected by a single platform. This design provides increased stability and safety when handling long or wide loads.
  • Multi-stage. Multi-stage lift tables are light-capacity units featuring a small platform supported by two stacked pairs of scissor legs. This allows vertical travel to be maximized while maintaining a small, compact design.

Hydraulic Lift Applications

Hydraulic lifts support essential material handling applications in several industries, including:

  • Industrial. Electro-hydraulic technology improves the speed and precision of lifts, allowing them to provide safe and smooth load control in various industrial applications. These applications include lifting or transporting heavy or bulky items, positioning items for assembly, and lifting items for inspection.
  • Construction. Hydraulic lifts with large platforms and high load capacities are ideal for safely lifting and transporting materials and heavy equipment at construction sites.
  • Automotive. In the automotive industry, hydraulic lifts play an essential role in providing easy access to vehicles during manufacturing, maintenance, repair, and inspection.
  • Marine. With their powerful lifting capacities and durable construction, hydraulic lifts make marine cargo handling and transportation applications smoother and more secure.
  • Aerospace. In aerospace applications, hydraulic lifts improve worker safety by enabling ergonomic positioning of heavy or bulky aircraft structures. For example, high-capacity hydraulic lifts provide vertical and lateral access to jet engines, wings, and other components for assembly, cleaning, or repair activities.
  • Mining. The power and controllability provided by hydraulic lifts make them a safe and reliable solution for moving rocks and other heavy loads in mining applications.

Safety Regulations Regarding Hydraulic Lifts

Given the amount of force supplied by hydraulic lifts, it is important to abide by strict safety guidelines during equipment use. Relevant hydraulic lift safety certifications and regulations include:

  • OSHA. The design and operation of hydraulic lifts should adhere to OSHA’s regulations regarding work performed on elevated platforms. These include:
    • Standard 1926.451. This standard addresses general requirements for guardrail systems and other appropriate forms of fall protection.
    • Standard 1910.29. That standard addresses personal protective equipment for protection against falling objects as well as guardrail design guidelines.
  • ANSI A92. The ANSI A92 standard outlines key criteria for ensuring that lifts and other aerial platforms are designed, manufactured, operated, and maintained correctly.
    Aerial lift certifications. OSHA aerial lift certifications require lift operators to pass an OSHA-certified training course regarding safe lift operation and maintenance.

Hydraulic Lifts from Unidex

Hydraulic lifts increase the efficiency of industrial material handling tasks while creating a safer work environment for employees. At Unidex, our customer-focused approach allows us to create custom ergonomic material handling solutions that fit the unique requirements of each application. Featuring various designs and load capacities, our hydraulic lifts improve workflow efficiency and reduce manual labor in a range of demanding work environments.

Contact our engineering team today to learn more about our hydraulic lifts and how they can be adapted to meet your needs.

Benefits of Portable Lifts


Portable lifts are lifts with casters and cylinder mechanisms that operators can move to various points around a worksite. These lifts allow users to set up portable workstations at safe and ergonomic heights, safely carry and move heavy loads, and more.  At Unidex, we specialize in creating ergonomic lifting solutions, including lift tables and portable lifts. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at different portable lifts we offer, their benefits, and common applications.


Types of Portable Lifts

At Unidex, we offer the following portable lifts:

Portable Hydraulic Lift TablePortable Hydraulic Lift Table

Our PHQL Series “Quick Lifter” Portable Hydraulic Lift Table can lift 500 pounds and has a height range of 28 to 44 inches. This allows employees to have a mobile, adjustable workstation at a safe, ergonomic height. A 24” x 24” top is offered and these lift tables have a minimal lead time, hence the “Quick” name. We carry tables in multiple sizes and shapes, as well as with different customization options.


Portable Workstations

Mobile Hydraulic Lift & Assembly TableOur PH Series Mobile Hydraulic Lift  & Assembly Tables are worktable surfaces that can lift to heights from 28 to 44 inches. These are ideal for operations in:

  • Cleanroom settings due to their electrostatic-free surfaces
  • Sanitary environments (including food and pharmaceutical production centers) due to their stainless steel construction
  • Lean manufacturing centers due to their mobile setup and easy portability


Manual Lift & TransporterManual Hydraulic Lift & Transporter

We carry a line of PHL Series Manual Hydraulic Lifts & Transporters that can carry 250 pounds for handling and elevating loads. It has a cantilevered design for easy accessibility to racks, machinery, and other fixtures, and it has an extensive lift stroke range of 48 inches. This guarantees access to machinery and equipment across the worksite. It has a 24″ by 36″ footprint and a welded steel construction.


Electric Workbenches

Easy-Lift Electric Workbench

The EHW Series Easy-Lift Electric Workbenches are some of our most robust workbenches, offering a 500-pound load capacity for industrial applications that require the ability to easily handle and lift heavy loads. It can be equipped with a wide range of lift capacities to create safe, ergonomic workstations for sitting or standing employees. It has an easy-lift mechanism; operators can simply toggle the switch to move the surface up and down. Different options for our EHW Series Easy-Lift Electric Workbenches allow facilities to choose the right construction materials, work-holding components, and additional features (such as trunnion mounts and drawers) to form the foundation of an effective work station.


Advantages of Portable Lifts

Each portable lift in our collection offers facilities more flexibility while also protecting workers from common repetitive stress and strain injuries. Some of the key benefits of portable lifts are:

  • Ergonomics. The tables can be adjusted to reach the right work height for sitting or standing employees. Instead of craning forward or working with a table at an uncomfortable height, employees can safely handle complex, repetitive, or potentially dangerous tasks.
  • Ease of Use. Our portable lifts are easy to handle, move, and set up. The lifts are also easy to operate through toggle switches and manual mechanisms.
  • Safety. Because of the heavy load capacity of these tables, users can minimize the manual carrying of heavy items. We also construct our lifts from safe materials that meet the requirements of work environments ranging from cleanrooms to food and beverage production centers.


Applications That Benefit From Unidex Inc Portable Lifts

Applications that benefit from our selection of portable lifts include:

Panel Boxes

An electrical panel box is a mounted panel that houses the circuit breakers that control either an entire building or a portion of the building. We offer portable lifts with ESD liners. ESD liners protect items and users from electrical threats such as direct discharge, charge generation, and electrostatic fields. Because these lifts are properly lined, they reduce the risk of electrical damage and danger.

Propane Tanks

Propane tanks are specialized cylindrical containers that can safely hold propane. Tanks can be filled and depleted multiple times. We offer portable lifts specifically designing for lifting and lowering propane canisters, eliminating the risk of drops and employee injuries. Because the lifts move the containers up and down, employees don’t have to lift or carry the awkwardly shaped, heavy container.


Contact Unidex Today for Portable Lifts

Portable lifts offer several advantages from enhanced safety and ease of use to improved ergonomics. At Unidex, we prioritize employee safety and health by designing portable lifts for use across multiple industrial sectors. Contact us today to learn more about the different lifts we offer.



Lift Tables for Food Industry

Typical Modifications

Lift Tables for Food Industry

Lift tables raise or lower loads in a controlled and safe manner. They see broad usage across a wide range of work settings and factories, especially when lifting or lowering heavy loads across relatively small vertical distances. Lift tables also help promote workplace safety, offering a sturdier alternative to ladders in many situations. Some common uses for lift tables include handling pallets, loading vehicles, lifting workers for specialized jobs, or allowing adjustable worktable heights.

The adaptability of lift tables to perform a variety of tasks makes them ideal for most applications. In food production and processing, lifting equipment helps to automate processes and enhance safety within numerous operations.



Uses of Lift Tables for Food

Lift tables have numerous applications in the food industry for processing, packaging, and production. These machines help to increase productivity and efficiency and can be custom-tailored for a variety of unique applications. Stainless steel lift tables are ideal for food and beverage sector applications because of their compatibility with the various sanitation processes required in material handling and processing.

Lift tables see frequent use in the following operations:

  • Food processing. Mechanical, powered, and hybrid lift table designs provide support to various food processing operations.
  • Food packaging. A lift table can fit into an automated packaging line or reduce strenuous and repetitive bending and lifting in manual packaging operations.
  • Food production. A quality lift table can help food production operations to lower costs and improve production times.


Lift Table Types Used in the Food Industry

The food industry relies on multiple types of lift tables, with each providing benefits for specific applications.


Stainless Steel Lift Tables

Many food applications require the use of stainless steel. Given the food industry’s rigorous cleaning and sanitation requirements, stainless steel lift tables offer the durability needed to withstand harsh chemicals and routine cleaning.


Tilt Lift Tables

Tilt lift tables raise materials or products to a specified height and then tilt the table to dump them into a container, mixer, or other equipment. Using tilt lift tables reduces the need for repetitive reaching and bending motions by workers, ultimately lowering the risk of stress injuries. Tilt lift tables see everyday use in food handling, especially in the packaging stage.


Powered Lift Tables

For high-cycle applications in the food industry, powered lift tables provide an ideal solution. Powered lift tables allow for fully adjustable work heights that improve efficiency and offer precision control or raising and lowering speeds.


Food Industry Lift Tables From Unidex

Lift tables help to streamline operations and promote worker safety through better efficiency and automation. When used appropriately, lift tables offer a wide range of benefits for the food industry, from processing and production to packaging.

Unidex offers solutions to improve workplace safety and productivity at your facility with our ergonomic lift tables and other material handling equipment. We are experts in material handling and work with you to customize lifting solutions that meet all of your process needs. To see how our lift tables will benefit your food application, please contact us today.


Medical Support Equipment

Lift tables are simple yet versatile tools that help employees lift, lower, or reposition heavy loads of all kinds. In the medical industry, these lifts serve many critical functions. As a stable and quick lifting solution, lift tables enhance safety and efficiency in medical applications from patient care to medical equipment assembly. 

Lift Tables for Patients

Lift tables are devices that utilize a valve and hydraulic cylinder to raise or lower objects and/or people. As an easy to use, cost-effective lifting solution, lift tables are highly beneficial for enhancing safety, mobility, and productivity in many instances, especially when used for patient care applications. 

Medical lift tables are commonly used as patient positioners in settings such as hospitals, rehab facilities, and more. Patients with mobility challenges, such as wheelchair users, require special support in a healthcare environment. Healthcare providers can use lift tables to provide a safe and easy means of positioning these patients since they may have difficulty moving on their own. 

Common patient positioning applications include:

  • Overbed tables
  • Helping support patient’s arms or legs when extended from an exam table 
  • Transitioning patients from a bed to a wheelchair (commonly known as Hoyer Lifts)

Speed and stability are critical concerns in hospital environments and other medical settings. Lift tables help to eliminate these concerns by allowing healthcare providers to quickly and safely move or position patients so that they can receive the medical attention they need, especially in surgical or emergency situations. 

Medical Equipment Assembly Lifts

Lift tables are also commonly used in manufacturing for medical equipment assembly. Mass production of medical equipment relies on assembly lines to rapidly build products step by step. As each piece of equipment passes through the assembly line, factory workers perform repetitive movements, such as turning, twisting, and lifting, to complete manual assembly tasks. Performing these repetitive tasks hundreds of times per day puts workers at serious risk for injury; therefore, proper ergonomics are critical, especially in medical equipment assembly lines where workers must handle heavy, bulky, or fragile components.

Lift tables provide the power and stability to move heavy loads without placing repetitive strain on employees. Used in an assembly line, they drastically reduce the effort required to lift and lower raw components, increasing efficiency and reducing the likelihood of mistakes and injuries. At Unidex, we provide lift tables for assembly line manufacturing of respirators, x-ray machines, and other critical care equipment.

Lift tables also serve as adjustable-height workbenches, which allow employees to quickly raise or lower the surface to a comfortable level. On an assembly line, this is yet another way of ensuring a safe and ergonomic work environment, eliminating the strain of reaching for an improperly positioned work surface. These advantages carry over to pharmaceutical companies as well, who use adjustable-height workbenches to quickly reconfigure testing and assembly areas depending on the needs of their employees.

Lift Tables from Unidex

Lift tables are crucial to the safety and efficiency of many applications in the medical industry, including patient care and medical equipment assembly. Unidex specializes in providing standard and customized material handling manipulators, lifts, and work positioners for a variety of industries. Our expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction enables us to meet even the most challenging material handling equipment needs. For more information, or to get started on your custom lifting solution, contact us today.