Mobile Column Lifts vs Inspection Pits, Which Is Best?

For a commercial garage, the choice between whether to use mobile column lifts or an inspection pit has often posed challenges to the business owner.

With advantages to both choices often debated, this tends to leave many commercial garages not future proofing their business or taking a more recognised route over best fit. Both solutions offer benefits and drawbacks, and when often these choices can lead to significant investment it is worth considering the benefits and potential drawbacks to each solution. If you are a commercial garage servicing HGV, PSV or an inhouse fleet, then it is likely you will be looking to choose between one of the above solutions.

The option you choose for your business is going to depend on a lot of different factors, such as

  • where you are going to be using this equipment?
  • what are the vehicle types you service?
  • how does your team currently work? Or will be working in the future?

Both inspection pits and mobile column lifts have their own specific uses, and it is critical that these are considered and understood to allow an informed decision to be made.

In this guide, we will look to detail the differences between mobile column lifts and inspection pits, the pros and cons which we hope will help to decide which is the best solution for your business.

Mobile Column Lifts

Mobile column lifts are ideal for providing a clear working space around a vehicle and allowing easy inspections of the underside of a vehicle. They can be repositioned and transported as required, and usually available as either an electro-hydraulic or electro-mechanical lift.

Mobile Column Lifts: Pros

  • Being mobile allows them to be positioned anywhere in the workshop
  • No groundworks required
  • Frees up space making them ideal for smaller workshops
  • Freedom to take with you if your business moves premises
  • Can be used outdoors or indoors
  • No planning permission required
  • Can lift cars, light commercials, hgv’s, busses, coaches, and trailers
  • Choice of three-phase or single-phase power
  • Operation in single, pair or all columns together
  • No down time during set up and can be setup within minutes
  • Battery operated versions are available for added flexibility

Mobile Column Lifts: Cons

  • Head height (clearance) needs to be considered – A Commercial Vehicle workshop accommodating all vehicles would need at least 6.3m clear height
  • Speed and access to repairs can be a challenge
  • Skilled labour is required to operate safely
  • There is a set-up time to factor in, even if it is minimal
  • Engineers can only work under a vehicle and not in or on it simultaneously
  • Waterproof versions are an additional investment
  • LOLER Inspections are required by law
  • Stable ground bearing floor slab is required – To ensure that the column operates safely
  • Lifecycle of lifts can be expensive due to batteries, cables, and electrical component failures
  • Visibility can be an issue as it is dark under the vehicle unless additional accessories such as lights are installed.
  • A torch or floor mounted light would be needed which can be a trip hazard inside a workshop
  • Due to restricted wheel access you can’t test steering or play without axle stands
  • Additional costs of electricity for charging batteries

Cost Of Mobile Column Lifts

The costs of mobile column lifts can vary greatly depending on the brand, model and options you choose. Wired sets with accessories typically cost between £10,000 and £25,000 to purchase, compared with between £15,000 and £35,000 for wireless sets.

The ongoing costs can vary , but the key areas to consider are:

  • for electricity for running equipment or charging batteries.
  • Maintenance is another additional investment which is essential and can differ depending on the model and its condition.
  • LOLER inspections are also required for mobile column lifts.

FAQs For Mobile Column Lifts

Which manufacturers are best known for mobile column lifts?

Finkbeiner 907 / 908 column lifts are the most popular option for most commercial vehicle workshops. Other common manufacturers of this equipment include Stertil Koni and Velyen.

How safe are they?

This equipment is extremely safe when used following manufacturers instructions and with due care. Safety checks must be completed regularly, with proper maintenance essential for keeping lifts safe.

Are there any weight restrictions?

Every mobile column lift will have a weight restriction or limit, which must be adhered to. With most models this is more than enough to lift commercial vehicles of various sizes.

Which is the better choice, wireless or wired?

Wireless column lifts have the added benefit of being completely cable free, allowing for a safer and clearer working environment. However, wireless lifts must be charged as required.

Are drive-on ramps a good option?

Drive-on ramps can be used with mobile column lifts and can make it easier to get vehicles into place. If you are considering a drive on ramp, you must make sure you have the space for it in your workshop.

Can Everquip provide mobile column lifts?

Yes! At Everquip, we are specialists in mobile column lifts and have helped many customers find the perfect solution for their workshop. Keith Norman of Arriva London said “we are extremely pleased with the overall quality and ease of use of the mobile columns. The operation is more productive and with no cables or wires it makes the housekeeping a lot easier as well reducing the risk of trips on the old wired lifts”

In-Ground Vehicle Inspection Pits

Inspection pits allow access to the underside of a vehicle for maintenance, inspection, and repair. They are commonly used for working on commercial vehicles, but can also be used for any type of vehicle including cars or vans.

Inspection Pits: Pros

  • Can be used in all buildings and removes the need for extra head height.
  • Engineers can work safely both under a vehicle and in/on a vehicle
  • Lighting LEDs can be recessed into side press panels for great visibility
  • Specific area for storage of tools and waste oil drainer safely removing oils from pit can be accommodated within the design
  • Additional equipment can be fitted either side of pit, such as play detectors (for testing steer axles), brake testers with load simulation for loaded brake tests, and radius plates
  • No maintenance costs for first 10 years thanks to structural warranty and lights warranty provided with Everquip pits
  • Minimal maintenance is required for upkeep of surfaces
  • Quick throughput
  • HSE compliant
  • Bespoke build
  • Required for ATF MOT testing of HGV’s, PSV’s etc.
  • Pit jack rail allows wheel free access

Inspection Pits: Cons

  • Planning permission may be required depending on the location
  • Requires ground works
  • Fixed in one location so can’t be moved if you relocate
  • Initial expenditure can be higher than column lifts depending on specifications
  • Initial installation time can cause disruption to business
  • Loss of workspace in the workshop
  • Hole in the floor requires H&S risk assessment negated by pit safety products

Cost Of Inspection Pits

The cost of an inspection pit will depend on the model and specification you require, as well as the location and set up of your workshop. An ex-works typical client will spend anywhere between £8,000 and £40,000 depending on the exact requirements and specifications. A turnkey solution will be between £25,000 and £60,000 depending on what is needed.

The ongoing cost of inspection pits also varies greatly, but with Everquip there are no maintenance costs for the first 10 years thanks to the extensive warranty we provide. There is minimal maintenance for the upkeep of surfaces which needs to be considered in the costs.

FAQs For Inspection Pits

Who are the key manufacturers/suppliers of this product?

Everquip are a market leader in the design, manufacture and installation of inspection pits. The solutions offered are bespoke to each client’s requirement and offer full DVSA compliance where needed. Their UK based manufacturing operation uses British Steel and UK sourced components to the highest standard.

How safe are they?

Inspection pits are one of the safest ways to work on commercial vehicles, as long as proper care and attention is taken. As they are primarily a “hole in the ground” there are potential hazards associated here, so a risk assessment needs to be carried out and control measures put in place to mitigate any perceived risk. Everquip can assist and advise in this area and offer solutions to mitigate risk.

What kind of customer is this a good fit for?

Inspection pits are perfect for any workshop which needs to work on large commercial vehicles. This includes public service vehicle inspection pits, truck and HGV inspection pits, and general maintenance inspection pits.

Does an inspection pit enhance the value of a property?

Having an inspection pit fitted in your workshop or business premises could potentially improve the value of the property. If the space is likely to be sold on as a workshop, an inspection pit can be a valuable asset. On the other hand, if the space is being sold for another use, an inspection pit could reduce the value.

Everquip are regarded as the world’s most trusted manufacturer and installer of garage equipment including mobile column lifts and vehicle inspection pits. We work across all sizes of customer from the independent owner through to the national operators. Everquip have installed over 4000 inspection pits across 16 countries and deliver full turnkey solutions that can incorporate both pit and column lift where needed.

We have been in business for over 26 years and with over 300 years of industry experience across our team, Everquip are best placed to offer advice and deliver the solution best suited to your needs for today and the future.

Contact us to discuss how Everquip can assist you in the next step of your business journey.

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