Dayton Lifts, Are they Safe for Use Inside the Data Center?

As mentioned before, the only types of lifts that will bring efficiency and safety are specialized server lifts that are designed specifically for the data center. Because the process of transporting servers manually can be a grueling task, techs will likely appreciate the help of any machine to lift heavy servers. This is understandable, but acquiring a server that wasn’t meant to perform inside the data center will not deliver the assistance that data center techs are looking for. You’re probably thinking “All I need is a machine that will lift and carry the heavy servers for me.” That’s true, but you need a machine that will protect your equipment as well. Using a lifter that wasn’t meant to carry servers will create an unnecessary risk of equipment damage.

A specialized server lift will have certain specifications that make it compatible for use inside the data center. Having these specs will also provide the necessary protection for your equipment during the server deployment and installation stages. This post will take a close look at the Dayton Manual Lift to determine whether or not it is suitable for use inside the data center based on its compliance with the 14 specifications that a data center Server Lift must have.

Design Intent

Design intent is critical when it comes to data center lifts, because the environment in these facilities is vastly different than, say, a warehouse. It’s important for a lift to be small in width and have the maneuverability to travel around tight corners without damaging other equipment around it. The Dayton Manual lift appears to be a smaller version of a forklift featuring a width of 24” and a length of 34 ½ “. Because the machine is front-loading, it will have to be turned and positioned length-wise in front of the server rack, a position that might be impossible to achieve in the narrowest data center aisles.

Load Capacity

Servers, chassis, switches, and power supplies can easily weigh hundreds of pounds. In addition to being able to handle the equipment, the lift must also possess enough stability to allow for a more efficient installation process. With a load capacity of 400 lbs., the machine will not be able to handle the heaviest servers that can weight around 500 lbs. Furthermore, the mast frame of the machine is constructed out of aluminum, making the machine less rigid and stable.

Platform Stability

Having a stable platform that doesn’t move or bend during alignment and installation of the equipment is crucial to prevent accidents from happening. A stable platform can also speed up the installation process. One of the biggest obstacles that the Dayton Manual Lift has is that it does not possess a platform that the equipment can sit on. Instead, the machine features two steel forks, creating the risk of the servers falling in between the forks if the equipment moves or slides. Even if a platform accessory can be attached, it will not have the required stability and rigidity.

Equipment Positioning

Because most data center aisles are cramped in space, it’s important to have a lifting unit that allows for side-loading of the equipment instead of loading from the front. The Dayton Lift is a front-loading machine, and this will make it difficult to position the servers. The controls are on the back of the machine, and this will obstruct the view of the equipment and ultimately affect the alignment of the equipment with the server rack.

Compliance

The Dayton Manual Lift models are not FCC or CE certified.

Adjustment Scale

Data center lifts, both manual and automated, must have the ability to precisely align the equipment with the server racks. A specialized lift will have the controls that allow for very fine up and down movements for precise positioning with the server rack. The controls of the Dayton Manual Lift do not allow for incremental movement, making it very challenging to correctly align the servers to the right U level.

Platform Range

It’s important for these lifting units to have the capacity to raise equipment to 8 feet in height, because that is the standard height for most data center racks. The Dayton Manual Lift is only capable of lifting up rack mount equipment to 6 feet in height. This will obviously create problems down the line for data centers that need to install or remove servers at the highest levels of the rack.

Braking System

A proper breaking system is an integral component of the specialized server lifter, for it enables stability during the positioning of the equipment onto the rack. The type of breaking system necessary in these machines is a dual point stabilizer break, which resists rotation and any side-to-side movement. The Dayton Lifts do not have stabilizers, but instead have wheel locks, which don’t provide any stability.

Wheels

A genuine server lifting machine will have large caster wheels that allow it to traverse the unique flooring of a data center. In addition to having extensive cables and wires running throughout the floor, it can also have raised floors as well as grated floors. A machine that has small wheels will be difficult to move through these types of environments. The Dayton Manual Lift has two large wheels in the back of the machine, but the front has two very small casters. If the small wheels cannot properly navigate over the cables and grates, it can be difficult to keep the equipment safe during transport.

Operating Controls

Through extensive research, it is apparent that side-loading machines are the most suitable for data centers. Because most data centers are crowded with various types of equipment as well as having very narrow aisles in between the server racks, only a side-loading machine will provide the greatest accessibility to its operating controls. As mentioned before, the Dayton Manual Lift is a front-loading machine, which will not provide easy access to the operating controls. Typical of front-loading machines, the operating controls are on the back. The technician would have to access the controls in the back, if there’s any room, but will have an obstructed view of the equipment. This will clearly affect the installation process by reducing efficiency and increasing the risk of damaging the equipment.

Conclusion

Because the Dayton Manual Lift does not possess 10 out of the 14 specifications that a data center server lift must have, it can be concluded that these machines are not safe for use inside the data center. A lift that was not meant to handle IT equipment will not have the necessary features that protect the equipment during transport and installation. Further, a lift that was not meant to deploy servers will not have any features that help during the installation phase. To avoid problems that will arise from acquiring a sub-par lift, invest some time on ensuring that your server lift possesses all of the 14 specifications.

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Genie Lifts, Are They Suitable for Your Data Center Environment?

There are many types of lifting machines, but it is important to realize that not just any lift will help technicians effectively accomplish their server deployment goals. It is imperative for data centers to acquire a lifting machine that has the right specifications required for compatibility inside the data center. While some data centers may opt for a general purpose lift, these particular machines are not compatible and they lack several necessary specifications.

To see the standards that a lifting unit must meet, please read the 14 Specifications for Choosing the Best Data Center Server Lift. In order to deliver the ultimate form of efficiency and to significantly reduce the risk of injury, the server lifting machine you buy must meet these standards. Out of the 14 specifications, the Genie Lift fails to meet 10 of them, which we will detail below.

Design Intent

A legitimate server lift must have been designed specifically for the data center. At first glance, it is very obvious that none of the Genie Lift models were designed to work inside the data center. In fact, the machines feature a forklift design that is contrary to the type of design needed inside these types of facilities. A Genie Lift may work well inside warehouse lifting heavy duty materials, but will not be able to handle fragile servers properly within such crowded environments.

Load Capacity

The Genie Lift’s lifting capacity is up to 500 lbs of weight, but the machine does not have the proper stability needed when installing heavy servers. Due to its lightweight frame, the machine wobbles and sometimes even twists while the heavy IT equipment sits on it. This type of movement makes it difficult to align the servers with the racks, and any instability carries the risk of dropping the server to the ground.

Platform Stability

To effectively lift and carry the equipment, the lift must possess a rigid platform that can transport the sensitive IT equipment from one place to another. An unstable platform can easily cause damage and in some cases even drop the expensive servers. The Genie Lift fails in this regard, because it does not possess a platform at all. Instead, the server will have to sit on a standard steel fork, where it can easily fall in between the rails if the equipment during transport or installation. There is a platform accessory available that can be attached to the machine, but a detachable platform will not offer optimal stability and dependability.

Equipment Positioning

The ideal lifting unit will possess side-loading capabilities. The Genie Lift does not offer this type of accessibility. Instead, it is a front loading machine that severely restricts the technician’s ability to install the server. When the machine is positioned to face the cabinet, the back of the Genie Lift will block access to the server during the installation process.

Adjustment Scale

The lift must have the capability to make incremental up and down movements to precisely align the equipment with the server cabinets. With a crank that is difficult to turn and requires more rotations, the Genie Lift does not have the proper adjustment scale to provide precise positioning of rack-mount equipment onto the racks.

Lifting Speed

An efficient server lifter will help you lower and raise equipment at a quicker pace. The Genie Lift does not have such capability, due to having a crank that is hard to turn and requires more rotations to move up or down.

Platform Range

A legitimate server lifting unit must be able to position servers at both the top and bottom of the racks. The standard server racks are 8 feet in height, so the unit must be able to install servers at that height. The Genie Lifts can only raise servers to 4 feet in height, and therefore fail this requirement as well.

Braking System

Aside from moving the servers from one point to another, server lifts also aid during the installation process. This means that the machine will have to possess a proper braking system that locks it in place while the technicians are positioning the equipment onto the rack. This is another standard that the Genie Lift fails to meet, because it does not feature a proper braking system that will prevent any rolling or movement from occurring during the installation process.

Wheels

A server lifting machine must have large wheels or casters in order to traverse the standard data center’s flooring, which is typically built with grated tiles. In addition, there are often wires or cables that are spread throughout the floor. The Genie Lifts feature wheels that are too small, which will lead to a troublesome transport process of sensitive IT equipment.

Operating Controls

Operating controls that are easily accessible from a variety of positions will render a faster and more efficient installation. Because the Genie Lift’s controls are on the back of the machine, installation with this unit will be difficult. Having the controls on the back of the machine will block the view of the rack, which makes it difficult to properly align the servers with the cabinets.

Conclusion

Because the Genie Lift fails to meet 10 out of the 14 required standards, it can be easily concluded that these machines are not compatible inside the data center. Data centers strive to attain the best servers with the greatest technology available, and this mentality should be applied to server lifts as well. When transporting fragile servers that are worth thousands of dollars, it’s not a good idea to transport the equipment on low-quality machines. When considering a server lift, you must ask yourself “Was it intended to carry servers inside the data centers?” If not, then you will run into difficulties at every point of the deployment and installation process.

Are Rack Lifts Appropriate Alternatives for Your Data Center?

Using General Rack Lifts to Deploy Expensive and Sensitive Servers

It’s very common for a data center to assign its technicians to lift and install heavy servers manually. On the other hand, there are many facilities that try to avoid this by purchasing general-use warehouse rack lifts to deploy their servers. A rack lift is typically an automated machine that can be used for lifting different types of equipment for virtually any type of purpose. Some types of lifts are used by mechanics to lift cars and other types are used during construction to lift materials. But can they be used in the data center to lift rack mount equipment? It’s common knowledge that most warehouses use automated lifts to move heavy materials, and this makes some people think that they can acquire a smaller version of these lifts to use inside a data center. It’s a step in the right direction to seek a machine to take over the burden of lifting heavy IT equipment, but buying a lift that was not intended for a data center can lead to problems. In some cases, these general-use lifts can be a waste of money, because they don’t provide the safety or stability necessary to protect the technicians and the equipment.

What Standards Must A Lift Meet For Use Inside A Data Center?

The common rack lift is not specifically designed for a data center. A general lift is usually used in wide open spaces to lift heavy duty materials, basically the opposite of what’s done inside a data center. Data centers are crowded with equipment that is heavy but sensitive. The aisles between the server racks are very narrow, and a smaller machine is needed that can navigate easily through these spaces. Through extensive research, we have found that lifts no more than 24 inches wide are perfect for most data centers.

However, just because a rack lifting unit is small doesn’t mean that it will perform well inside a data center. Obtaining a smaller version of a machine that was intended for general use in a warehouse will not help, because there are other vital features these types of lifts must possess. In addition to having a smaller footprint, the machine must possess the right features to help position the equipment right into the server rack. One such feature is a shelf that can slide out to help place the server onto the rails of the server rack. This type of feature is important because it eliminates the need for multiple technicians during the server installation process. If the lift does not have a sliding shelf, then more technicians will be required to help pick up the server from the machine and place it into the rack, which ultimately defeats the purpose of acquiring a lift in the first place.

Specialized Server Lifters Address Challenges that General-Use Rack Lifts Do Not

These are the types of obstacles that should be taken into consideration when buying a server lifting machine. The aim of a specialized rack lift should not be to simply move a server from point A to point B, but to completely revolutionize the strategy of installing servers and turn it into a seamless process. Moving servers manually is certainly an arduous task that can take hours, and it can result in an accident where the server is damaged, or worse, where the technician is injured. Even the lightest servers can cause an injury if it falls on someone who is attempting to install it from underneath.

Fortunately, there are server lifters that are designed for the data center and have the necessary features to help protect the technicians and the expensive equipment. Similar to choosing the right server for your data center, you must take the same approach when choosing a rack lift. Be sure to read our previous post that outlines the 14 specifications that a specialized server lift must meet in order to perform well in the data center.

14 Specifications for Choosing the Best Data Center Server Lift

Protect your data center staff and hardware with the right tools. Here is a list of criteria to consider when choosing a server lift to assist in installing rack-mounted equipment in a data center environment.

1.    Design Intent

Question:          Was the lifting machine designed to be used in a data center?

Importance:       Lifts that handle general materials in a variety of environments (like  warehouses and loading docks) are designed to operate in spaces and aisles regulated by commercial architectural standards and local codes.

Data centers are built with much tighter spaces than commercial environments and have strict policies against products that use hazardous materials.

To effectively handle and install rack-mounted equipment in compact data center aisles, a lifting machine must be designed with the functionality and configuration to suitably maneuver in the specific space and accurately position the equipment.  Further, the use of hydraulics or other hazardous materials by the lifting device risks a code violation in the data center.

2.    Load Capacity

Question:            Is the lift’s rated capacity able to handle the weight of the IT equipment you need to lift or may need to lift in the future?

Importance:       The servers, switches, and power supplies used in modern data centers can weigh hundreds of pounds and some trends indicate they will only get heavier.  It is important to plan ahead and spec a lifting device that is designed to handle the heaviest equipment you have now as well as equipment that might be needed down the road.

3.    Platform Stability

Question:           How rigid and stable is the machine under load and when in use?

Importance:       Lifting and moving servers, is unlike handling any other type of load.  IT equipment can be sensitive to jarring movements and needs to be kept level and secure for proper installation into data center racks.

When selecting a lifting machine for this purpose, the more rigid and stable it is under load and during operation, the better.   If the platform sags, the equipment won’t remain level and installation will become more difficult.  If the unit is unbalanced, shakes, or is wobbly, the server is at risk of falling or being damaged.

4.    Equipment Positioning

Question:           In which orientation does the lift position equipment?

Importance:       In data center aisles, space is tight and equipment may be populated on both sides of the aisle.

Front loading units severely restrict the space and maneuverability available to the operator. because the lift needs to be turned to face one side.  Also, repositioning is very difficult when the unit is facing the rack.

Lifting devices that position equipment from the side allow for racking on either side of the aisle. Side loading makes it easy for the operator to make precise position adjustments.

 5.    Compliance

Question:           Does the lifting device comply with regulations and is it certified?

Importance:       All data center devices, including servers, switches, and power supplies must be certified to ensure that maximum levels of radio-frequency disturbance are not exceeded and minimum safety standards are met.  The certifications are based on compliance with local regulations such as FCC/IC (North America) and CE (European Union).  Devices that are not in compliance can cause a danger to data center employees and equipment.

6.     Adjustment Scale

Question:           Is the lift capable of making  incremental up/down movements?

Importance:       Precise alignment of the equipment is essential for successful installs and is especially important in populated racks.  Only lifts that can move up and down in very fine steps are able to achieve the positioning necessary to precisely match up the equipment and rack mounting points.

7.     Lifting Speed

Question:           How quickly can a maximum load be lowered or raised?

Importance:       Time is money.  Lifts that can move equipment up or down very quickly and efficiency better support data center operating goals.  The ultimate solution for data centers are lifts that can:

  •        Move servers quickly up or down for efficient vertical positioning, AND
  • Make slower, precise positioning adjustments for efficient horizontal racking or un-racking

8.     Platform Range

Question:           What is the vertical range (lowest to highest position) of the lift’s equipment platform?

Importance:       To operate efficiently, data center racks must be populated from top to bottom. Heavy IT equipment needs to be supported and installed into all available rack positions.  Lifting devices selected for data center applications should have the operational range necessary to deliver equipment at the bottom or up to the top of any rack.

9.     Overhead Safety

Question:           Does the unit have safety measures to prevent damage to data center facilities and equipment?

Importance:       Low ceilings, overhead cable trays, cold/hot aisle containment areas and seismic re-enforcement structures are often found in data centers.  Catastrophic damage to these facilities and equipment can occur due to operator inattention when raising servers with a lifting machine.  By protecting against costly accidents, lifts that have built-in, dynamic safety measures are better suited for data center environments.

10.   Braking System

Question:           Does the lift have a braking system that effectively prevents rolling during lifting and install?

Importance:       When supporting equipment during an install, lifts must remain stationary for safety and functionality.  Braking systems with only a single point of contact to the floor may prevent directional motion, but can still rotate about the single braking point.  Mechanisms with multiple locking points, like individual wheel locks, are more time consuming to use and risk the operator neglecting to engage one or all of the locking points.

A braking system with exactly two points of contact to the floor and a single point of activation for the operator is the best choice for data center applications.

11.   Wheels

Question:            Are the casters or wheels of the lift adequate for traversing across your data center’s flooring?

Importance:       Data centers with raised flooring are commonly made up of grated tiles.  Wheels that are thin, small and made of metal can damage flooring.  Only large (minimum 4”-5” or 10-12cm) diameter wheels that are made of non-scuffing material are able to navigate smoothly and safely over this type of terrain when carrying heavy loads.

12.   Containment

Question:           Does the lifting mechanism have components that contain hazardous fluids or compounds that are restricted from use in your data center?

Importance:       Over time, hydraulic systems and lead acid batteries are prone to failure and will eventually leak.  These fluids are extremely dangerous and can cause major damage to data center facilities/equipment, leading to significant downtime.  Only hydraulics-free machinery that use leak-proof batteries are suitable for the data center.  Car batteries are never acceptable

13.   Securing Equipment

Question:           Can the equipment be secured to the platform?

Importance:       Servers and switches can shift during transport.  A feature that allows loads to be tied down or secured in place is essential to a data center lift in order to prevent damage to sensitive equipment.

14.   Operating Controls

Question:           Are the controls easily accessible from a variety of positions?

Importance:       Maintaining line of sight with the rack is critical in making the height adjustments necessary to precisely align equipment for an easy install.  Operating controls that are easily accessible from any position ensure that a clear line of sight can be achieved in any situation.

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