News: Three Questions which help Determine which Automated Unit Load Lift is Right for You…


Decisions about whether to use Reciprocating Hoists Or Continuous Platform Elevators are usually determined by considerations of these questions combined;


  1. Does the product need to move between a single or multiple number of floor levels?
  2. What is the desired throughput?
  3. Does the product need to be moved up and down simultaneously?


Moving Totes, Boxes and Smaller Unit Loads…..

Does the product need to move between a single or multiple number of floor levels?

Reciprocating Hoists are designed to move loads between both single and multiple floor levels.

Although Continuous Platform Elevators usually operate between single floor levels, it’s possible to add additional conveyors to link together multiple standalone machines from one floor to another so that the outfeed of one machine links to the infeed of the next.

While this would increase the initial outlay cost, this can be counteracted through the returns of higher throughputs which would be a main point of consideration when deciding which of these two lifts would be most suited. Reciprocating Hoists have a lower throughput than Continuous Platform Elevators.

“Stepped” Continuous Platform Elevators


What is the desired throughput?

Reciprocating hoists can move product at throughputs of anything from 100 units an hour up to 400 units an hour.

If you need to convey product at a higher throughput rate of over 400 units an hour and up to 2,400 units an hour a Continuous Platform Elevator is most suitable.

Does the product need to be moved up and down simultaneously or not?

Having a lift system which has the capability to be bi-directional can be very advantageous.

There isn’t a need for simultaneous conveying if the businesses spends a minimal amount of time replenishing a pick floor in comparison to taking picked orders away from the pick floor.

If there is a more equal requirement for movement on and off the pick floor there would be a higher demand for simultaneous travel.

You can have a machine that just elevates, just lowers, or has the ability to do either at different times to suit process requirements.


If you need to achieve throughputs of over 400 units an hour up to 2,400 units an hour and are happy to move product in one direction (upwards or downwards) through two separate movements and you don’t need this to be simultaneous, one Continuous Platform Elevator will support this.

If you need a high throughput for both upwards and downwards travel and want this to be achieved simultaneously then two Continuous Platform Elevators would be necessary.



Although the cost of controls will be marginally increased in order to facilitate this, you can avoid installing an additional lift system to move loads in the opposite direction, so the cost implications are minimised right from the offset; the cost of the machine, the installation, spare parts and servicing.

Another option is a wider platform which can accommodate a double load as long as this doesn’t exceed a 50kg weight limit as seen below.

A Continuous Platform Elevator with Wide Platform to convey Double Loads of Totes

If you require a throughput below 400 units an hour a Reciprocating Hoist is suitable and gives you two options here…

A single carriage which can operate in one direction until instructed to change direction, or, a double carriage which can simultaneously load and unload.

The Continuous Platform Elevator is a very adaptable machine making it a great all round choice for many reasons;

  • The number of platforms within the machine can be increased depending on product size so as your business grows your machine can adapt to your increased throughput requirements meaning you might not have to invest in additional lift systems straight away.
  • Should the weights of your loads increase we are also able to reinforce your platforms so they take loads of up to 50kg.
  • The platforms have a low spare parts cost and can be refurbished through a platform refurbishment programme which uplifts and returns newly refurbished platforms over an agreed timeline. This offers the security of knowing the upkeep your machine is in hand as well as minimising the impact on your overall throughputs due to the remainder of platforms still operating within the machine.
  • The belts which convey the platforms are manufactured from rubber not metal. This means they don’t need to be lubricated with grease and have increased longevity when regularly maintained.
  • Belt changeovers when compared to chain conveying machines take far less time offering a general manpower saving.
  • If your physical work-space needs to change and you find that you need to re-address the configuration of your lift to a different shape or extend or shorten some of the conveyors, we can undertake a site visit to review the possibilities of doing this.
  • Overhead conveyor systems can be used to link inbound deliveries coming in on boom conveyors to a Continuous Platform Elevator which means costs can be saved through reducing inbound manpower requirements and associated costs through manual handling and palletising. It also maintains an increased area of usable floor space and time efficiency savings through taking goods straight to the pick floor…. demonstrated in this picture below.
Boxes move off a Boom Conveyor onto the First Continuous Platform Elevator, across overhead conveyors above the DC Feed Lanes and are then lowered onto a Secondary Continuous Platform Elevator. The boxes are then split into three different flow lanes, two of which join a Reciprocating Hoist which conveys the delivery to the Pick Floor on the Mezzanine


Moving Pallets

Similar to other NERAK Machines, if you don’t need to simultaneously convey pallets in two directions then reverse function settings will enable you to control the movement of pallets in an opposite flow as and when required. This will also save you the cost of additional conveyors feeding in or exiting from the lift shaft.

The use of turn tables are a worthwhile investment to limit the use of floor space required for outfeed conveyors as the pallet can be moved at right angles, changing its direction of travel. It also allows you to transport pallets narrow edge leading which means you can have a narrower lift shaft and in the case that you may need to change the direction of the pallet during its outfeed journey, the secondary conveyors which follow on after a turntable, no longer need to be wider.

This is because the turn table can turn the pallet to remain narrow edge leading in its new direction of travel.

If you need to double your throughputs but don’t want the cost of an additional pallet lift system and you can move pallets in the same direction simultaneously it is possible to widen the lift shaft and lift carriage so that it can accommodate two pallet infeeds side by side.

The benefit of this is that you can also move oversized pallets.

If you need to increase throughputs but need to have the facility for two directions of travel simultaneously then two separate lift systems would be required.

Throughputs for Pallet Lifts can be anything up to 120 pallets an hour.


All NERAK Unit Load Lift Systems can be provided either as Standalone Lifts supplied with no controls or conveyors, Stand Alone lifts with controls and/or conveyors, or as a Fully Integrated System. Contact Us with any questions or view the full NERAK Product Portfolio.


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