Photo courtesy Rotary
Photo courtesy Rotary

Their versatility makes mobile column lifts increasingly popular, but that doesn’t mean they’re always the right choice. Rotary Lift offers five tips to determine if they make sense for your shop.

  1. Look at the vehicles you want to lift. Mobile column lifts are available with capacities from as low as 13,000 lbs. all the way up to nearly 19,000 lbs. per column. They can be used in sets of two, four, six or eight columns, with a total lifting capacity ranging from 26,000 to more than 150,000 lbs. That means you can use a mobile column lift to pick up most trucks, buses, RVs and other heavy-duty vehicles. If most of your business is in heavy-duty vehicle service, they can be a great choice. If you are looking to expand from light-duty into medium-duty or heavy-duty work, a mobile column lift is a solid choice, especially with the addition of adapters that make it possible to use a pair of mobile columns to lift trucks by the frame. For a shop that does mostly automotive and light-duty truck work, a mobile column lift may be more lift than you need.
  2. Assess the services your shop performs. The type of services your facility performs – and will perform in the future – is one of the most important factors in choosing the right lifts. Mobile column lifts are the most versatile of all heavy-duty lifts and can be used for most maintenance and repair tasks. However, it does take a little time to move and configure the columns vs. other types of lifts. If your shop depends on quick service and turnaround, an inground or drive-on lift may be a better choice. Similarly, mobile column lifts can’t be used for certain tasks, like alignments, and are more challenging to use to do wheel and brake work. Another lift style may be preferable for these tasks.
  3. Evaluate available space. It’s important to consider your shop’s available space, traffic flow, vehicle lengths and turning radius. If space is limited, mobile column lifts can be a good choice because, unlike fixed lifts, they can be moved as needed throughout the shop or even outside, enabling you to turn empty space into revenue-generating repair, inspection or wash bays. You do need to have a dedicated area to store the lifts when not in use, as well as outlets to charge the column batteries.
  4. Consider workplace efficiency. Mobile column lifts allow for an open floor plan, meaning less clutter for technicians to navigate and a cleaner-looking shop. Optional features like battery-powered and wireless units remove tripping hazards, and remote-controlled lifts can provide better visibility to the entire vehicle during the lifting process. Techs do have to take time to correctly set up the columns, and wired models will have cables on the floor that stretch between columns.
  5. Understand the overall cost of ownership. Mobile column lifts generally have the lowest upfront cost of any heavy-duty lift, plus there are no installation costs. However, when comparing the cost of lifts, it’s imperative that you consider the overall lifetime value and choose a manufacturer that has the reputation and financial stability to be around for the life of your lifts. Top-quality manufacturers will provide superior support and offer products through distributors who are fully equipped to provide installation, service, inspections and repairs to minimize any downtime.

“For most shops, vehicle lifts are an investment that will affect revenue and uptime for years to come,” says Doug Spiller, Rotary Lift heavy-duty product manager. “Don’t make your decision lightly. I always encourage shop owners and managers to talk to their colleagues and ask manufacturer reps for references from businesses similar to their own. Find out which lift works best for them and what kind of support they are getting from the manufacturer; then consider your space, service needs and overall budget.”

Rotary offers a free Buyers Guide: Mobile Column Lifts that examines important features and considerations to help owners and operators determine if mobile column lifts are right for their shops. To download the free guide, go to

To learn more about Rotary’s complete line of heavy-duty lifts, visit, contact your local Rotary Lift distributor, call (800) 640-5438 or visit Rotary booth #3469 during APTA Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta Oct. 9-11.

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