Productivity can be measured as the difference between having a great year, or a marginal year. If your shop has the most efficient lifts, you will get more repair jobs out the door faster in the same work day, thereby increasing your shop’s revenue.
Since two post side-by-side lifts are the most popular lift type among ASP readers, we’re going to limit this article to two post lifts only.
In general, safely and properly positioning the four swing arms is a five to seven minute operation. After positioning the vehicle, the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) and all lift manufacturers suggest the car be slightly raised, then jounced on the front & rear bumpers to assure the vehicle is securely positioned on the swing arms.
Then we’re told to raise the lift to operating height and then lower the lift onto the mechanical load-holding devices (the locks). Even grandpa told you never use a jack without a jack-stand, and a lift is no different as it should be lowered onto the locks. But, let’s consider speeding up this process.
Some two post lifts offer pads instead of swing arms. You drive the car into the bay, position the car over the pads and hit the up button. There are no swing arms to place, thus saving you time. Pad lifts are often seen at mass merchandisers since the techs in these shops are frequently changing oil and doing tire service.
But, you run a full repair shop and likely can’t dedicate a bay to a pad lift. However, the Mohawk Speedlane option gives you the ability to switch from a swing arm lift to a pad lift (or back again) within one minute. This option means instant-on and instant up, yet still leaves the tires hanging free for wheel, brake and exhaust service, while still leaving the undercarriage open for all types of repairs. The Speedlane idea came from a Chevy dealer who years ago wasn’t interested in “giving away” free oil changes if his techs took 31 minutes for an oil change.
A second way to save time in positioning the swing arms is a wheel engaging adaptor. Used in pairs, or on all four swing arms, the wheel engaging adaptor slips on the end of a lift’s swing arm and rotates inward to grab the tires. There is no time spent positioning swing arms in the proper lifting position.
The wheel engaging adaptors aren’t used for a brake job, but a transmission shop could save a few minutes with every car raised over the year, yet still give the drive wheels the ability to spin. This shop will be more productive and able to complete more jobs.
Diagnosing a “problem” vehicle can be a pain, especially if it’s an unproductive come-back should a customer complain of poor gas mileage after a tune up, or a poor ride. One simple idea is a “scale” or weight gauge on the lift. If your customer with a Crown Vic complains of poor mileage, yet your lift shows this particular Crown Vic is tipping the scales at 6000+ lbs. (a Crown Vic weights 3500 lbs.) the weight gauge (scale) on your lift will be the first diagnostic & tell-tale sign to diplomatically ask your customer to unload the cement bags from his trunk before coming back to complain of a bad ride or lousy tune up.
Lifting speed. Not all lifts raise and lower in the same amount of time. A mechanical screw driven lift takes two minutes to raise, and two minutes to lower. Hydraulic lifts take from 30 to 45 seconds to raise or lower. Over the course of raising and lowering seven cars a day x five days, x 52 weeks a year the productivity of a hydraulic lift will equal 27 more hours to spin wrenches and get your repairs out faster vs. slower moving lifts. Give some consideration to how fast your lifts raise & lower.
Shop productivity isn’t often associated with garage lifts, yet doing your research, homework, and checking the array of options offered from lift manufacturers can and will have a great impact on the ability to get cars through your shop faster.