Performing maintenance and repairs on large trucks is a heavy business. Every component and part is large and the force required to repair, remove or install needs a higher level of applied strength. Therefore, technicians are always looking for that mechanical advantage to reduce the physical strain. One of the best mechanical advantages is a vehicle lift because it allows the technician access and clearance and visibility to the truck they would not have while working off a creeper. In other words, a lifted truck leads to a safer work environment and a more productive workday with less downtime. So now that we have established why a truck lift is important in a maintenance facility, how do we make sure we choose the right heavy duty lift for the site and application?  This post covers how the Ray-Jurgen team helps customers through their heavy duty vehicle lift selection process.

When we are asked to help a customer figure out what the best lift is for them, we usually start with an overview of heavy duty lifts before asking specific questions about their fleet and types of work they perform to narrow down the options.  Of course, we’re always happy to share examples of our past projects to add context!



There are three major heavy duty lift manufacturers in the United States competing for market share.  All three meet Buy America requirements with US manufacturing and raw materials.  They are:

Rotary Lift – Rotary is headquartered in Madison, IN, and is the largest and most well respected lift manufacturer in the world.  Rotary was founded in 1925 and carries a full range of light and heavy duty lifting options.

Stertil-Koni – Stertil-Koni is a Dutch company with offices and a manufacturing plant in the USA.  They focus on heavy duty lifts only.

Mohawk Lift – Mohawk is headquartered in Amsterdam, NY.  They carry light and heavy-duty above ground lifts.  They do not have an in-ground lift option.



With that brief sketch of major manufacturers complete, we move to a discussion of heavy duty lifts types.  Heavy duty lifts generally fall into three types: in-ground, runway style, and mobile column.  Each have their own pros and cons.  The table below captures most of the major points that help end users contrast them during the heavy duty lift selection process.

Lift Type

Fire truck on MOD335In-Ground


Rotary MCH 418Mobile Column

Capacity Options70,000 – 105,000 lbs.30,000 – 100,000 lbs.26,000 – 108,000 lbs.
Installed Cost$$$$$$
Installation Timeline2-3 weeks1 week1 day
  • Best access to the vehicle
  • Axle engaging lift. Leaves wheels free
  • Easy to drive on and off
  • Install is fairly simple
  • Flexibility – reconfigure your lift from 2-8 columns as needed
  • Portable – move your columns around the shop as needed
  • Installation requires excavation and concrete work
  • Requires selecting proper adaptors to lift the vehicle and spotting the lift
  • Wheel work requires rolling jacks and a second lifting action
  • Bulky – require larger bays


  • Wheel work requires standing floor jacks
  • Requires some expertise for safe lifts

Best Applications


  • Replacing an existing in-ground lift
  • While building or renovating an existing facility
  • Extensive wheel and tire work
  • Tight shops with small bays
  • Low to moderate wheel work
  • Space is not a concern
  • Speed of work is paramount
  • First heavy duty lift or as a “flex” lift to optimize shop capacity
  • Minimal wheel work



After we’ve developed an understanding of the different types of heavy duty lifts, we move to our favorite topic: our customers!.  The most interesting part of the heavy duty lift selection process is tailoring our industry and product knowledge to a customer’s specific needs.  During our facility design consultation, we cover three key topics with customers to ensure that we have a firm grasp of the customer’s needs and can recommend an appropriate solution.

What types of trucks do we need or want to pick up with the heavy duty lift?

This an important question because we need to consider the fleet’s range of vehicle weights, lengths, wheel base lengths, number of axles, heights, and more. These metrics all drive how and where that vehicle is lifted. The best way to determine this is do a fleet survey and record models and measurements for each vehicle in the fleet. Or look back in customer records for vehicles that have been brought in for repair.  Establish the extreme ends of your fleet.  Two questions to get us started:

  • What are the longest and shortest wheelbase I’d like to pick up?
  • What are the tallest and heaviest trucks I’ll be picking up?

 What kind of repairs or maintenance will you perform on the heavy duty lift?

The different types of lifts have advantages for performing different types of repairs or maintenance based off how and from where on the truck is the lift engaging to lift. For example, if you do a lot of wheel and tire work, an axle engaging lift that leaves the wheels and tires free might make more sense than a runway style lift that needs rolling jacks to lift the vehicle off the runways.

How much do you want to spend?

We get it.  Nobody likes to be asked how much they want to spend on something.  That said, there are a host of lifting options for different budgets ranging from pairs of mobile columns to a 3 post in-ground lift.  Different budgets will drive different solutions and will drive compromises on which vehicles can be lifted or accessibility to do work. We insist that customers understand the trade-offs as they select their lifts.

Two additional questions we ask to help triangulate on a budget are:

  • Is financing an option?  It is usually much more palatable to pay for an expensive piece of equipment over time rather than up-front.
  • What’s the ROI on this lift?  An ROI analysis will usually help a customer understand what they can afford based on what the lift is expected to do for them.

Tying It All Together – Heavy Duty Lift Selection

With an overview of their lifting brand and type options combined with a deep dive into their specific lifting needs, we find that the list of reasonable lifting options is usually narrowed down to a few to drive their heavy duty lift selection.  The collaborative and forward-looking nature of this process is usually enjoyable for customers, and we love doing it!