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Questions You Should Ask Your Data Center Lift Provider

There are many ways to lift a server. But only one way to safely lift a server. 

  • The good old-fashioned two-hands method is always available. But it is  always a safety risk and a drain on resources. 
  • Some try warehouse lifts, but these machines are designed for rough and tumble warehouse tasks as opposed to data centers. While they serve wonderfully in a warehouse, shipping yard, or construction site, they don’t have the capabilities needed for data center work. They simply cannot be adapted to the sensitive needs of a data center infrastructure and servers. 
  • Sub-par “data center lifts” come with a claim that they are designed for data centers but then fall short in critical areas. These lifts are not built with the data center operator in mind. Despite their claims, they lack adequate transportation, safety, and positioning features. 

Then there are server-handling lifts that are purpose-built—and safety certified—for data centers, courtesy of ServerLIFT. These data center lifts provide the only reliably safe way to handle and lift servers in data center environments. These lifts have been designed from the ground up to serve the precise needs of your data center, your employees, and the equipment you use to lift, transport, and install. 

Why Should I Choose a Purpose-Built Data Center Lift?

Certified Data Center Lifts Increase Productivity

Two or more IT technicians might be able to manually install one rack-mounted unit in as little as 20-30 minutes. As few as one IT technician can install the same rack-mounted equipment with the aid of a ServerLIFT-brand data center lift on their own in half that time. That translates into a 100% increase in productivity, not to mention maintaining social distancing. 

Let’s take this a step further. Some servers are so heavy that they could require three or more technicians exerting a ton of physical effort for at least 20-30 minutes to install. Our server-handling devices need just one operator to do the same job in half the time and minimal physical effort – delivering a 300% increase in productivity! 

Incorporating a properly designed data center lift will free your technicians to focus on high-value tasks that they normally wouldn’t be able to. It also means that anyone—regardless of physical capabilities—can rack a server. This fact alone saves countless hours when configuring staff schedules. 

Certified Data Center Lifts Improve The Bottom Line, Increase Employee Morale, and Reduce Attrition  

Productivity increases almost always result in increases in employee morale. In turn, this increase in morale translates to a lower attrition rate. 

Research from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shows that businesses that practice hazard elimination and risk controls have reductions in worker compensation rates and health care costs. Companies that place a high priority on hazard elimination and risk control see a resulting increase in business value metrics, including faster time to market, higher product quality, and increased market share. They also see increases in operational efficiency and employee morale, with decreases in employee absenteeism and turnover. 

Although the benefits of purchasing a purpose-built data center lift are obvious, knowing which data center lifts on the market fall into this prestigious category is not at all obvious. We’re here to help. Below are questions to ask when you’re in the market for a lift that is designed and certified for data centers. 

Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Certified and Purpose-Designed Data Center Lift 

Transportation Capabilities

Q: How tall is the lift? 

Why this matters: Data centers have elevators and doorways, so a lift needs to fit through these easily and safely. As an example, Racklift’s standard lifts do not. So, be sure to ask if the lift can fit through standard doorways and elevator entryways (78-82 inches /198-208 cm in height). In fact, any lift on the market today except for ServerLIFT-brand devices, won’t fit through standard openings*, which means you will need to tilt the lift or carry it on its side just to get through the door – compromising the safety of your staff and the machine. Along these same lines, we also recommend a lift that can comfortably maneuver within a 36” (91cm) aisle. 

* many data centers may have non-standard, oversized, commercial height doors and elevators which don’t pose a problem to Racklift’s standard units.

Questions You Should Ask Your Data Center Lift ProviderQ: Can the lift rotate 360 degrees in an aisle? 

Why this matters: This is a trick question. Data centers have narrow aisles that are lined with server racks on both sides. So if someone boasts that their data center lift can rotate 360 within an aisle, this is a red flag. The ability to rotate 360 degrees is useless when data center lifts that can access server racks on both sides of the aisle without needing to rotate the lift are available. Problem solved. 

Q: What is the bottom clearance height of the lift? 

Why this matters: Inevitably, there will be obstacles in the way of the lift as the operator navigates throughout the data center. Some lifts have such low ground clearance that they “bottom out” when attempting to traverse ramps (a ubiquitous feature of most data centers), door thresholds, or even power cord covers. This low clearance increases the chance of the lift tipping at best, or will stop it in its tracks at worst.  That could injure the operator and damage the onboard server. At the very least, it eliminates the lift as a mode of conveyance for server equipment around the facility.  We recommend a lift of at least 2.25-3.5 inches (5.7-8.9 cm) of ground clearance. This level of clearance will allow the lift to easily pass over obstructions and ADA ramps, thus allowing for the lifts use throughout your operations and eliminating the risk of tipping.

Q: Is there a braking system? If yes, how easy is activation for the operator and is it stout enough to keep the lift from rolling and moving during a server transfer? 

Why this matters: First, an effective braking system is a must-have.  Without it, the wheels of the lift will roll freely and force the operator themselves to brace the lift from moving around when pulling a server onto or pushing it off of the lift platform.  Most lifts aren’t designed with this in mind and have no brakes, or ineffective wheel locks that need to be engaged on each wheel independently.  ServerLIFT-brand lifts, employ a robust braking and stabilizing mechanism that is independent of the wheels.  When engaged, it is nearly impossible to move the machine.  Because the braking system used on all ServerLIFT devices uses a single action, large foot pedal with ample clearance and access, engagement is easy for any operation and doesn’t require hard to access and/or multiple activation points like a Racklift or warehouse lift. This cumbersome process is a safety hazard as well as an operational burden to the operator. We recommend that the device have only one point of activation. 

Q: Will the lift work with Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) flooring? 

Why this matters: Outside of a data center or server testing and production labs, ESD-safe environments isn’t a consideration in lift design.  However, in the data center industry, ESD floors and other protocols are gaining popularity since the electrostatic discharge off of a person (think about when you shock someone else after walking on carpet) is an ever-present danger to servers, switches, and any other rack-mounted equipment with onboard electronics.  An unintended electrostatic discharge can render a server inoperable, with the cause of the damage unknown.  This poses a real danger to maintaining uptime and can cost thousands or more for equipment replacement or repair. ServerLIFT-brand lifts may be equipped, upon request, with certified ESD wheels that ensure a safe, dissipative connection from the lift’s equipment platform, down to your ESD floor.

Positioning Features

Q: What is the vertical range of the equipment platform? 

Why this matters: There’s nothing more frustrating than purchasing a data center lift only to realize it barely reaches 42U high (6.5 ft), short of your taller server racks. Some lift devices can’t access the floor, which is equally problematic. Your lift must accommodate the full vertical range from the bottom to the top of your tallest racks. 

Q: Is the lift operated manually or is it motorized?  If it’s motorized, does it employ variable/incremental lifting speeds? 

Why this matters: Time is money; we all know that. But precision is key when it comes to installing expensive servers. Lifting manually isn’t optimal.  It takes more time and is physically exhausting for the operator.  Ideally, you should have a lift that is motorized and can raise or lower at varying and accelerating speeds, quickly when efficiency matters, and incrementally when precision is most important. A micro-adjustment scale will allow you to align a server with its screws at the back of a top rack in your data center. 

Q: Can you adjust the angle of the server during installation? 

Why this matters: Angled installation capabilities are critical to the precision of a server installation. Data center lifts without post-to-post alignment and angle-adjustment functionality make the task of server installation much more manual and difficult, as the operator must himself/herself physically adjust the server from an elevated position. 

Safety and Compliance Features

Q: Is the device certified as compliant with local and industry regulations?

Why this matters: Non-safety compliant lift devices may put employees and equipment at risk for injury and damage. Before purchase, ensure the device is compliant with, at minimum, FCC/IC (Federal Communication Commission/Industry Canada) standards for North America and CE认证 (European Union) standards for outside of North America. 

Q: What kind of fluid composes the hydraulics?

Why this matters: Some devices, especially warehouse lifts, have hydraulics with hazardous liquids that would cause significant damage to your data center if they were to leak or spill into your raised flooring. Data centers should only use lifts designed without hydraulic systems and with all necessary mechanisms and fluids (like batteries or the oil that lubricates a winch) fully sealed, nonspillable, and certified for use in a data center environment. 

Q: Do the cable and winch have guards?

Why this matters: Some lift devices on the market don’t have cable and winch guards, which may be fine for warehouses or other industrial, wide open spaces, but otherwise leaves your operators vulnerable to injury from pinch points and loose clothing getting caught. This one is simple: choose a lift device that provides protection around the cable and the winch. 

Q: Is the crank exposed? 

Why this matters: Two reasons. First, an exposed crank causes injury. Second, an exposed crank can be a cumbersome obstacle when an operator loads a server into a rack location the same height as the crank. And remember, manual cranks should not be used for loads weighing more than 300 pounds, as repeat motion injury can result.

Ease and Agility of Installation and Removal 

Q: What is the device’s rated load capacity? 

Why this matters: Lift machines wear down when they are continuously used to lift items that exceed their load limit, increasing the total cost of ownership. Similarly, hand-cranked lifts with rated load that exceed the reasonable limits for the physical exertion of the operator, can make regular server moves physically exhausting or damaging. Make sure that the rated lift capacity can handle the weight of your current equipment and any equipment you plan to acquire in the future.  If you must employ a hand-cranked lift, it’s load rating should be low (no more than 350lb) to ensure that operators aren’t lifting – albeit with some assistance – more than they should.  

Q: Can I access the server at all points during installation? 

Why this matters: It’s important that operators are not cut off from access to any part of the server during the installation. Make sure the frame and winch do not block access while the operator is installing the equipment. 

One question we hear often is: “What if we’ve already purchased another lift?”

If you’ve purchased a different lifting  device, then you’re may be experiencing some buyer’s remorse. We get it. We care about the safety and productivity of you and your staff or customers, which is why we established our lift 回购计划, which allows you to trade in a RackLift, GenieLift, or any other brand of lift, in return for credit against the purchase of a safety-certified, purpose-built ServerLIFT device. We’ll even remove these units for you at no additional cost. 

Purchasing a data center lift is a big decision. The safety of your employees and the state of business value are on the line. The best advice we can give you is to ask questions. Getting the answers to the questions above will ensure you don’t purchase a lift that you’ll regret later. 

​​About ServerLIFT

ServerLIFT is revolutionizing the IT hardware industry worldwide with purpose-built, data center certified server handling solutions. We build ServerLIFT products for precision, stability, and maneuverability in the data center. Global, industry-leading data center operators, including those in most of the global Fortune 500, rely on ServerLIFT. See for yourself.

To get a quote or speak with a ServerLIFT solution specialist, visit serverlift.com/get-a-quote or call 602-254-1557.

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