Automotive Lifts and Tie-downs

We continue our focus on methods of transporting wheelchairs and in this issue explore automotive lifts and tie down systems. (Vehicles suitable for lifts will be covered in the next issue.)

Hydraulic Automotive Lifts have a number of advantages over other methods of transporting wheelchairs. They are easy to use, safe if used correctly, convenient, require no transfers into or out of the wheelchair, and can give independence to the wheelchair user. There are many different models with various features available.

When selecting a lift, look at the following factors:

Width and height of the vehicle door opening

Height from ground level to the vehicle floor – this is one of the determining features in lift selection

Does the lift fit your specific vehicle model?

Does the lift restrict driver vision when driving?

If stowed inside the vehicle, how much space does it use?

Does it have a manual override facility in case of power failure?

Is it operated by the wheelchair user or an attendant?

Does the vehicle have adequate ground clearance for a cassette lift?

Does the wheelchair user require side or rear access to the vehicle?

If stowed inside the vehicle, how noisy is it while traveling?


Important Safety Features to look for:

Automatic roll stop – this narrow lip flips up when in use to prevent the wheelchair rolling off.

Hand rails.

Bridgeplate to bridge the gap between the platform and the vehicle

Under Vehicle Lifts (UVL or Cassette lifts)
The platform is suspended under the chassis of the vehicle, thus allowing maximum use of the internal space, without limiting door access. These lifts are very successful on busses and larger vehicles with high ground clearance, but not suitable for small private vehicles with less ground clearance. In SA there is no regulation size for speed bumps so without adequate ground clearance; larger bumps may damage the lift. Cassette lifts are more expensive to fit and require regular maintenance as they are exposed to the weather. On certain vehicle models (e.g. Vito) the fuel tanks and exhaust pipes may require repositioning. Cassette lifts are not suitable for rough or rural conditions.

Platform Lifts
Platform lifts come in various configurations.
Solid platform with a single or twin pillar, depending on the weight capacity required. The twin pillars provide a more stable and level platform. These are usually the cheapest option and require little maintenance, but take up space inside the vehicle and can make a lot of noise while traveling. When stowed, the standard platform lift blocks the doorway for use by other passengers. If the platform is solid, it may block the driver’s rear view. Some models allow the lift to rotate to one side of the vehicle in the stowed position, thus allowing access and driver vision.

Split platform – folds vertically in half with each half stowed to one side, which allows access through the door as well as improved rear view. The advantage is that in an emergency or accident, it is possible to exit through the lift.

Stacking platform – folds horizontally in half to give unobstructed vision and to reduce blind spots for the driver.

SWL 200 – This is a single arm, solid platform lift that can carry up to 200kg. It is suitable for an LDV, Van, Bus or truck. No modifications are needed for most vehicles. It is available in three sizes with a steel mesh platform to allow driver rear vision when driving.
SWL 500 – Similar to previous model, but with a double arm lift and can therefore carry up to 500kgs.

Agents: SkyJacks has a nationwide fitting and backup service.

Shoprider markets Braun lifts in South Africa and have a variety of solid platform, stacking platform and cassette lifts in a range of platform widths and lengths. Lifts feature dual hand rails for safety, adjustable anti-rattle and automatic roll stop. The Lift-Tie system stows the platform securely while in transit. All Braun lifts are fully NHTSA compliant.
Local Agents: Shoprider

Automatic Twin Pillar Lift (WTP 350) – designed for large wheelchairs, this is best installed at the rear of a vehicle provided the door opening is adequate. The mesh steel platform allows rear view when driving. Maximum floor height 93cm, fully automatic with automatic roll-stop, bridge plate and safety handrails.
Price: from R33 630.00 incl. VAT

Automatic Underfloor Lift (WCL 300A)
User-friendly with improved seal of stowage cassette for additional protection from rain and road grime. Also suitable for fitment to trains. Automatic Roll-stop, twin hand rails manually attached.
Weight capacity 300kg
Price: R62 700 incl. VAT
Supplier: J.S.J.Truck Equipment,
Ronnie Brown
Nationwide 24 hour breakdown service.

High-quality platform lifts and cassette lifts are available which can be rear or side mounted. Options include a single solid platform, a vertically folding platform to allow doorway access, a horizontally folding platform for improved rear vision, or a side swing platform allowing access through a doorway. Bus lifts are also available. Grenco provides an expert advisory service to clients according to their specific needs. All lifts comply with EU safety standards.
Supplier: Grenco
Rob Shaw
11 branches country wide

Ricon lifts come with high-quality safety features including automatic inboard and outboard roll stops, built in manual back-up system and non-skid platforms. They are supplied with ultra smooth and quiet operating systems. Cassette lifts are well protected from the elements. The range includes:
Reliant - affordable double arm platform lift.
Uni-Lite - lightweight double arm platform lift.
Cassette Mark 1- cassette lift for smaller vehicles.
Eclipse - cassette for large vans e.g. sprinter.
Mirage – cassette for busses.
Klearvue - compact horizontal folding platform for smaller vehicles.
Clearway - vertical folding platform.
Slide Away - vertical folding lift which folds aside.
A range of ramps and lifts suitable for busses and trains.
Price: from R29 500.00 incl. VAT
SA Distributor: Barry Edy
Local Agents:Mobility

Tie Down Systems
Tie downs are essential safety features for any person travelling in a vehicle while seated in a wheelchair. They prevent the chair from rolling around inside the vehicle when accelerating, breaking and cornering, and act as a seatbelt in the event of an accident. According to EU and SABS legislation they should be made up to two separate parts, one to secure a wheelchair and one for the occupant. Specifically, the occupant straps cannot be attached to the wheelchair straps; the occupant’s straps must have their own attachments to the floor or body of the vehicle.

These fastening systems are made up of the following components: floor anchor, webbing straps, hooks to attach webbing to floor anchor points and to wheelchair, fastening buckle, and the user harness, lap belt or shoulder belts. There are several options available for each of the above components, with their own advantages and disadvantages. These are specific according to the user’s needs. E.g. If used by a single compared with multiple users, it will affect that amount of adjustment that is required. Some units offer a manual adjustment system while others offer a more expensive retractable inertia reel which is fully automatic, self-tensioning, and self-locking.

For occupants with spinal cord injuries and no trunk control, a lap belt is insufficient. A body harness with straps over both shoulders is the safest option. However this can be time-consuming to secure. A single shoulder strap is adequate for users with moderate balance.

Unwin has a range of wheelchair tie down systems and user harnesses to suit a variety of needs, depending on the wheelchair, the disability and the vehicle used for transport. All Unwin standard wheelchair restraint systems are now tested to a minimum of 120 kgs, 41% stronger than the requirements of the international standard ISO 10542. Unwin offer two floor anchor systems, an aluminium rail that provides a number of different anchor points, or the solo floor anchor, which provides a single anchor point.

Four-Point Webbing Restraint uses fixed length front straps and fully adjustable rear straps with a choice of two attachment methods, Karabiner or Snaplock.
Combined Webbing Restraint comprises wheelchair tie down and occupant restraint systems together in one simple operation.
Quattro System is a simple, retractable restraint in a variety of configurations.
Solo System is the ideal solution for dedicated wheelchair positions.
Agents: Chairman Industries
Cousins Engineering

Q- Straint
The QRT Max retractable fastening system provides reliability and quality, ease of use and safety, and can be secured with one hand. A wide variety of lap and shoulder belt combinations are available. QRT MAX is a crash tested system.
Price: from R6270.00 incl. VAT
Agents: SkyJacks

JSJ Wheelchair tie down set
Comrises front and back tie-downs which attach to rails anchored to the floor. It only includes a lapbelt, although a shoulder strap is available on request. Built to SABS specifications.
Price: R3200.00 incl. VAT includes fitment.
Supplier: JSJ Trucking

Skyjacks Tie downs
Skyjacks supply a locally made product which exceed the SABS requirements. The lap belt attaches to the floor separately from the chair restraints. It is made up of easy-to-use rock-climbing components.
Price: Approx R1425.00 incl. VAT per set.
N.B. One free tie-down system is provided with every lift fitted.
Suppliers: Sky Jacks

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