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Data Center Lift Facts: True or False

We all know that making a buying decision for data center equipment can be tricky, including buying a data center lift—especially if not all of the information being presented is accurate. 

For years, we were the only lift on the market. RackLift came on the scene a few years back with a two-fold strategy. First, to develop a really low-cost lift, and second, to gain market share by both denigrating ServerLIFT and mimicking our product presentation and strategy.

Along the way, our counter strategy has been to take the high road. Simply present the truth of how good our products are, and rely on the intelligence, good sense, and discerning eye of data center managers to see that truth and recognize the falseness of Racklift’s claims. We deliberately chose never to directly point out the negatives of our competition—only to laud the positives of the right choice which was, and still is, ServerLIFT.

However, now we have come to a time when so much misinformation has been put out by RackLift, that it has created confusion and uncertainty. 

It’s time to set the record straight. Let’s start at the beginning.

ServerLIFT began in 2002 with an idea to eliminate the dirty little secret of the burgeoning data center industry, which was that highly skilled tech workers were required to do really dangerous and risky things as a part of their job—namely, to lift, move, and support big, heavy, sensitive, and expensive server equipment by hand.

To eliminate this problem, we researched, designed, tested, surveyed, and finally launched a well-thought out and well-made tool that solved the problem in an optimal way.  We invented the idea of a data center lift and then built the safest, very best lift we could, to do the job data center techs needed done every day. Most of our original machines that were made and shipped in 2006/2007 are still in operation today.

For a long time, we had very little to no market competition. This was understandable: there was no “market,” only the one solution that we offered. We were our own competition and therefore continued to listen, gather feedback, and continuously improve the successful product we had developed.

But, as with any industry, competition did eventually emerge. By that time, we were so ubiquitous that the market, our customers and competition just started referring to all manner of lifts labeled for “use in the data center” as “serverlifts.” (Of course, genericizing our brand name is a violation of our registered trademark/trade name—it would be like calling all facial tissues “Kleenex®.”)

At this point, there was and is just one really visible competitor, and that is RackLift. Which brings us to the present. As mentioned, RackLift has been making claims about ServerLIFT and their own products that are simply false. 

Here are the facts. 

Claim: “Electric/Motorized Lifts are unnecessary”

False. RackLift claims that their “High Ratio Winch Makes Electric Lifters Obsolete,” and that it can hand-crank 650 pounds easily. Hand-cranking, especially when you are moving a number of servers a day, is not “easy.”  Their statement is like saying that no one needs a car if they have a bicycle.

We also sell a hand-cranked lift, the SL-350X model. But the truth is, hand-cranked lifts are really only suitable for occasional and one-off moves. If you’re doing burst work, moving a lot of equipment more than occasionally, you don’t want your techs hand-cranking. You need a one-touch, electric lift that allows you to lift those heavy and expensive servers without wrecking your shoulders and arms. 

And, the physically demanding task of hand-cranking really limits your prospect-pool. With electric, one-touch lifting, people of any size, strength, and ability can safely and effectively install or remove servers.

Claim: “Half the Price and Size”

It’s true. RackLift is cheap.  A metal frame with some wheels, a cable, and a hand crank is not the same as a well designed and made lift. Racklift’s metal frame must be strapped to a rack in order to remove or install a server. That is a far cry from a self-supported, safety-certified lift that doesn’t need to be strapped to anything. A metal frame that can only install a server from the front of the unit is not the same as a lift that can install a server from the front or from either side, without having to turn in the aisle. 

Plus, there is always the total cost of ownership. Every time you need to move a server, if you use a RackLift, you have to line it up by rotating it in the aisle, pressing the brake, and strapping the lift to the rack in four places. In a narrow aisle, that means you will need to walk all the way around the row of racks to come around to the other side and strap the lift to the rack on that side, crank the platform to the right position, pull out the server, undo all the straps again, release the brake, turn the rack around again, and then roll it to the destination . . . and repeat. 

This is a lot easier with two people, so you don’t have to do all that walking, but that defeats the purpose of a lift. A lift should make it possible for one person to move the server or other data center equipment, without all these unnecessary steps, and without assistance. 

Claim: Racklift rotates 360° in a 2-tile aisle 

True! So what? Why should a lift have to rotate in an aisle? Why not design a lift that can remove and install a server from either side as well as the front? Data center aisles are getting narrower and narrower. Two-tile aisles are only three feet wide. And why would you want to rotate a lift in an aisle, around all that sensitive and expensive equipment? The ServerLIFT lifts are only 24 inches side, easily operated in a two-tile aisle. 

In fact, you need a bare minimum of 48 inches to operate a RackLift, especially if you want the operator to be able to pass by the lift while it is in the aisle. 

Claim: “Fast, Simple, Safe, and Effective”

  • Not Fast: Hand-cranking is, obviously, slower than motorized lifting. Not to mention tiring. Before you can even start cranking, as we describe above, you need to strap the lift to the rack, in four places. If the rack is a cabinet, with solid sides and a door, you have to remove the door before you can use the RackLift device. By the time you have done all this, you could have removed, transported, and installed several servers, even if you were using the ServerLIFT hand-cranked device. 
  • Not Simple: See above. Using a RackLift is complicated. 
  • Not Effective: The RackLift lift can’t reach the top of the tallest racks unless you buy a custom-built model, and that model will not be able to fit through normal data center doors.  
  • Not Safe: See the Truths about safety, below

Truth about Safety: Racklift is dangerous

  • Pinch points. This is a screen shot from a video on the RackLift site.RackLift Pinch Points
  • An independent study, done by Arizona State University, had this to say about the safety (or lack thereof) of RackLift units:
    • “The RackLift will have a very high chance of tipping compared to the Warehouse Lift and the ServerLIFT device”
    • “The overall operation of the RackLift is impaired by the framework surrounding the lift shelf which the operator must “awkwardly” navigate through to install and un-install [sic] servers.”
    • “Driving the RackLift was much harder for the two users. They had difficulty turning, stopping and braking the lift…the handles were not very useful.”
    • “The cable system is similar to the one used by the ServerLIFT device; however, the cable and winch do not have any guards, which could cause damage to exposed body parts.”
    • “Cord causes RackLift to severely tilt forward and wheels come off the ground. Risk of server falling out”
    • “The shelf can crush or cut body parts when it is operated”
    • “The exposed crank can cause serious body injuries when it is operated.”
    • “RackLift’s crank…becomes a difficult obstacle when loading servers at the same height as the crank.”
    • “The lack of handles on two of the three sides of the lift results in grabbing the harsh metal frame and subjecting handles to potential pinch points.”

True: Easily exchanged

If you have bought a RackLift and are experiencing buyer’s remorse, we can make it easy for you to upgrade to a ServerLIFT data center lift. Thanks to our BuyBack Program, you can trade in your RackLift. We will even pack up and remove your RackLift unit. Once you have submitted a purchase order for a new ServerLIFT device, our team will issue a credit for your RackLift unit. 

Even if you take advantage of the BuyBack Program, your purchase of a new ServerLIFT unit will still be eligible for our 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. 

Thank you for letting us set the record straight. Let us know if we can help you start moving your data center equipment with the only motorized lifts designed specifically for the purpose. 

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