News Archive

Kilbourn Hired as Project Manager

PFlow Industries welcomes Kent Kilbourn as the newest member of the Project Management Team, a group of customer service specialists devoted to overseeing the design and construction process of material lifts from receipt of purchase order to final shipment.

Kent joins PFlow after several years as a Total Access Specialist at Airgas, the nation’s largest supplier of industrial, medical and specialty gasses. His experience in account management and business development will allow him to successfully foster relationships with dealers and ensure customer satisfaction during all phases of the production cycle. Prior to Airgas, Kent worked as Service Sales Manager at Milwaukee Harley Davidson.

I'm excited about the opportunity to join PFlow's a company with such a good reputation for quality and ingenuity. As a project manager, I am eager to learn about the growing VRC industry and become a valuable resource to our customers.”

Kent earned an Associate’s degree in Arts & Sciences from University of Wisconsin – Washington County and is a certified Military Corrections Officer and Personal Trainer. He served as a 95C Correctional Specialist in the United States Army where he maintained custody and control of maximum security inmates within a federal prison. Outside the office, his interests include health and fitness, building/restoring motorcycles and spending time with his wife and 2 children.

PFlow Industries is pleased to announce that longtime Senior Project Manager, Kurt Ohlinger, has been promoted to Inside Sales Technical Specialist.

Due to the high volume in our quoting division, we knew some departmental restructuring was needed to meet that demand. This new position was created to strengthen the team and Kurt's extensive experience made him the ideal candidate.

With over 16 years at PFlow, Kurt will easily transition into this position and its new set of responsibilities. These include estimating, specification review and quoting special projects. He will rejoin the Inside Sales team after a successful career in Project Management where his detailed nature and multi-tasking skills have allowed him to take on increasingly complex projects, working within the framework of the order to maximize customer satisfaction and project success. For the past 10 years, he has been the primary liaison for Cartveyor™ Shopping Cart Conveyors, managing the order process from the point-of-order to final shipment.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to build relationships with PFlow dealers and this role allows me to continue working alongside them, just at a different stage in the sales cycle,” said Kurt. An avid runner and skier, Kurt spends his time outside of work training for long-distance races.

Milwaukee, WI (June 24, 2013) – Hoffman Brought on to Head Western Territory

Tim Hoffman has returned to PFlow Industries after 15 years to become the Western Regional Sales Manager. Tim will assume responsibility for the territory, which encompasses all states west of Colorado - plus North and South Dakota that was previously being serviced by Chuck Cobb, National Sales Manager.

With over 28 years in industrial sales and marketing management, Tim is well acquainted with the VRC market. While holding the National/International Sales Manager title at PFlow during the 1990s, he contributed to multi-million dollar sales increases by maintaining successful relationships with business partners.

Prior to returning to PFlow, Tim specialized in new business development for a national door manufacturer where he developed and implemented strategies to increase territory sales while maintaining profit margins. He oversaw nearly $20 million in business.

Finding the right candidate in this specialized industry can be a challenge, but bringing Tim back will eliminate that learning curve so he can make an immediate impact, “ said Cobb. “We see significant growth potential in the western territory and are pleased to have such an experienced sales manager on board to find the right material lifting solutions for our customers.”

Milwaukee, WI (June 20, 2013) -- New Sales Specialist on Board at PFlow

PFlow Industries has brought Nick Quartuccio on board for a newly created Sales Specialist position. He will work alongside project management, estimating and quoting special projects, as well as assist with national accounts and contract management.

Adding Nick to the PFlow team bolsters our focus on expanding the VRC market and demonstrates our commitment to remain the industry leader,” said Tom Archie, Director of Sales Engineering.

Nick comes to PFlow with a strong sales background, which includes 5 years in the brokerage industry before entering the industrial arena with engineering design software sales. Most recently, he served as a sales specialist for a large industrial gas and welding supply company.

A former Marine with Fox Company 224 based in Milwaukee, he holds a Finance degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and actively volunteers as a mountain biking patrolman in his free time.

Milwaukee, WI (April 24, 2013)- Michael Reilly Promoted to Manager of Product Engineering

PFlow Industries, the pioneer and leading manufacturer of vertical reciprocating conveyors, is proud to announce the promotion of Michael Reilly to Manager of Product Engineering. He will report to the Vice President of Engineering, Mark Webster.

I am fortunate to have Michael leading our design engineering group,” says Webster. He is an excellent engineer with a passion for his work, and enjoys tackling the daily design challenges we face as a custom equipment manufacturer. His efforts contribute significantly toward PFlow’s goal of remaining a leader in vertical material handling.

For nearly 6 years, Michael has been performing project engineering, scheduling and other important functions within the engineering department. He has also played a key role in many recent process improvements. As manager, he will now lead PFlow’s team of skilled technical designers and drafters and take on the additional responsibility of managing all engineering work associated with producing PFlow’s products. Michael appreciates the opportunity he has at PFlow to play an integral role in the development of highly specialized projects; his most memorable to date was a 16,000 lbs. capacity servo-mechanical screw lift designed to scan aircraft via on-board radar equipment supplied by the customer.

He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering for the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 1996 and has applied his mechanical design expertise at several employee and family-owned companies prior to joining PFlow. His most notable professional accomplishment is being named on a patent for a carrier tape vibrating module used in the inspection and packaging of semi-conductor integrated circuits. Outside the office, Michael enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his wife and 2 sons.

Milwaukee, WI (March 18, 2013) – PFlow Adds Freeman to Roster of Experienced Field Technicians

Fred will join a highly skilled team of technicians where he will be cross-trained on all equipment, including the Cartveyor™, PFlow’s line of shopping cart conveyors.  In addition to supervising the on-site installations, Fred will troubleshoot maintenance issues both in-house and out in the field. PFlow Industries, the pioneer and leading manufacturer of vertical reciprocating conveyors, continually strives to maintain the highest level of service standards in the industry. In doing so, PFlow has recently brought on Fred Freeman as a Field Service Technician.

During his 27 years in the industrial construction industry, Fred has had the opportunity to familiarize himself with PFlow lifts while working with an independent electrical contractor. He has traveled the world working on conveyors, robotics, paper handling machines and a broad scope of lifting equipment.

At this stage in my career, I wanted to be in a specialty field and was attracted to PFlow largely because of the longevity of the staff - many have been here since the beginning” says Fred of his decision to accept the position and adds, “I also know first-hand that PFlow makes high quality products and look forward to being a representative for them. Outside of work, Fred enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.

Milwaukee, WI (February 6, 2013) -- PFlow Adds Jenkins as New Field Technician

Charlie brings a unique perspective to servicing our lifts with his background in building maintenance. His is an expert troubleshooter and is aware of all factors that may play a role in the successful installation and upkeep of a lift,” says Herrmann.PFlow Industries has recently added Charlie Jenkins to its team of experienced field technicians. Within this role, Jenkins will supervise the installation and start-up of lifts, as well as perform any on-going maintenance. Jenkins will report to Pat Herrmann, Product Support Manager.

Jenkins knowledge base stems from a 20-year career in manufacturing maintenance that includes working with auto storage retrieval systems and continuous flow manufacturing. This well-rounded experience will allow him to quickly transition to his new role as field technician. In his free time, Charlie has two daughters that keep him very busy and enjoys some quite time fishing.

Milwaukee, WI (August 9, 2012) – PFlow Announces International Sales Division; Eduardo Kuhn to Lead as International Sales Manager

With the growth we've experienced over the past few years, we felt the time was right to bring on a dedicated international sales manager who can focus on building our brand and developing relationships abroad,” said Chuck Cobb, National Sales Manager at PFlow. PFlow Industries has announced the appointment of Eduardo Kuhn to spearhead the new International Sales Division. This expansion will allow PFlow to foster relationships with dealers in emerging markets where demand has soared and promote their cost-effective vertical lifting solutions to a world-wide audience.

The implementation of an International Sales Division is a response to the heightened development in emerging markets, concentrating on Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Kuhn assumed the responsibility for the territory on July 30, 2012 and joins PFlow after a seasoned sales career in imports/exports. He will be headquartered in Miami, FL, a hub for international trade, and will play an integral role in expanding the dealer network and assist in developing bi-lingual marketing campaigns focused on creating product awareness.

Kuhn says, “I have learned that success is largely about getting the right information to the right people at the right time and I am eager to use the communication and problem solving skills I have acquired throughout my career to establish lasting partnerships with PFlow customers.

Milwaukee, WI (July 28, 2012) – Seasoned Engineer Enhances PFlow Operations Team; Jim Borden Joins PFlow as Manufacturing Engineer

PFlow is synonymous with quality in the industry and bringing Jim on board is evidence that we are continually seeking out experts to maintain that reputation,” said Sowinski.PFlow Industries announced the addition of Jim Borden as Manufacturing Engineer. Borden will serve as a liaison between the Manufacturing and Engineering departments to ensure product document accuracy and quality compliance. Borden will report to Tom Sowinski, Vice President of Operations.

Borden’s career in manufacturing spans over 3 decades; first entering the field as a machine operator and advancing to setup technician before earning a bachelor’s degree from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Once promoted to Manufacturing Engineer, he passed the Certified Manufacturing Engineering Technologist (CMfgT) examination. Since then he has developed successful ISO-9000 quality control systems in the metal stamping and custom injection molding industries and holds designations that include Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) and the American Production and Inventory Control Society’s Certification in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM). While earning these certifications, Jim completed his coursework to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration. Outside the office, Borden is a volunteer member of the National Ski Patrol, having served as an Outdoor Emergency Care and Basic Life Support (CPR) instructor.

Milwaukee, WI (July 24, 2012) – PFlow adds Matt Krueger to its team of project managers

Krueger is a 2010 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he earned a BA in Business Management. He has made an early impact working on several major projects, including a lift for a classified environment plant in Saudi Arabia, and an order of ten lifts that will be integrated into one assembly line at an appliance manufacturing plant in Tennessee. PFlow has hired Matt Krueger as its fifth project manager, an integral group of managers who support the field sales team, overseeing the design and construction of all PFlow vertical lifts from the receipt of the purchase order through to final shipping to customers in the United States and around the world.

"I have already begun to apply the process management and detail oriented skills I learned in college and working at the family golf course,” said Krueger.  “I am really excited to take on more responsibility and learn the equipment manufacturing business from the leader in the vertical lift product class.”

Tom Archie, PFlow director of sales engineering noted, “We are delighted to have Matt on board.  He has a strong work ethic and works well with his colleagues and our customers."

Milwaukee, WI (July 11, 2011) – PFlow names Chuck Cobb as new National Sales Manager; expands regional sales network

PFlow Industries. has appointed Chuck Cobb as its new National Sales Manager, a position with the responsibility to manage the regional sales staff and sales of PFlow's core vertical material lift systems to all existing and emerging industrial and commercial customers. Cobb, who joined PFlow in 2004 as the Southeast Regional Manager, has over 20 years in the industry and is known throughout the country as an expert in materials conveyance.

"Chuck's extensive experience serving the VRC industry as well as his extraordinary work ethic will be a valuable asset to both our sales staff and our national dealer network," said PFlow President Ted Ruehl. "Chuck has provided superior customer service throughout his career and we are pleased to have him bringing his knowledge and skills to our entire national sales program."

In addition to adding Cobb, PFlow has added two new regional sales managers and expanded the territory alignment to four distinct regions, providing PFlow dealers and customers with enhanced regional service.

Joining PFlow as the new Northeast Regional Manager is Fred Volkman with responsibilities from Maine to Washington, DC, and New York and Pennsylvania. Volkman has over 20 years of experience in the vertical lifting market from the perspective of the distributor, the manufacturer's agent and regional sales.

Ray Fuller has been hired to replace Cobb as the Southeast Regional Manager covering states from Texas to Florida and the Virginias. Fuller brings over 18 years of experience in distributor support as a regional manager in the mezzanine industry.

"The opportunity to add two reps with the extensive material handling experience of Fred and Ray will be a huge asset to our dealers and customers," said Cobb. "They are renowned in their territories for their hands-on approach to servicing the customer and providing the best lifting solution for the needs of individual customers."

 

Milwaukee, WI (June 10, 2008) – PFlow sets speed record with customized DB Series VRCs!

 

PFlow Industries pioneered and has subsequently dominated the vertical reciprocating conveyor (VRC) category by taking a good idea and continuing to make it work for an ever-increasing variety of industries and applications. From a single-lift model in 1977, the core PFlow product line has grown to include six standard model series, each of which can be customized as needed to fit perfectly with the specifications of a particular customer. Sometimes the modifications are minor, and sometimes they are far more involved.

Recently PFlow customized two Series DB VRCs in a manner well beyond the norm for JL French Automotive Castings, Inc. of Sheboygan, WI.

In 2006 JL French was in the midst of a steady increase in business necessitating a redesign of the manufacturing floor to achieve greater production volumes. The most efficient use of the existing space required two separate areas where in-process castings needed to be automatically elevated to get to the next manufacturing module. In one area the lift was 14.5'  and in the other it was 16.2'. The key requirement to the elevation mechanism was speed, with the common themes of low maintenance, reliability and safety also important. The castings were a uniform weight (between 12 and 16 lbs); but they varied in size and shape, and each had to be lifted individually.

Initially JL French worked with material handling experts on various system designs, each of which had prohibitive features:

A continuous vertical conveyor (CVC) system, basically a continuous loop, vertical escalator with platforms was considered. Certain height restrictions existed in the building, and the ceiling provided a clearance of less than two feet – not enough room for the platforms to hinge at the top and continue on the downward loop. Plus a clearance pit would be needed in the floor, and JL French was leery of the frequent maintenance likely required to operate the complex CVC system.

Industrial elevators were evaluated; but in order to achieve the necessary throughput multiple parts would need to be lifted together– a significant inconsistency to the desired production sequence.

An inclined belt system, a type of CVC with a slope and design similar to a straight staircase, didn’t get much past the discussion stages because the horizontal floor space required simply wasn’t available.

By the time JL French connected with PFlow, it was clear that innovative thinking was needed. PFlow engineers examined the specifications and determined that a DB series lift might work; but in order to achieve the necessary cycle time, it would require a maximum vertical speed of 350'/min, almost six times the standard DB series speed of 60'/min. Rather than shaking hands and moving on, the PFlow team confidently assured JL French that it could be done!

The design collaboration between PFlow, JL French and the area material handling dealer resulted in a system with the following features:

A Servo-controlled asynchronous AC motor that continuously provides torque while the platform is stationary, eliminating mechanical floor-level switches and the need to engage the brake during loading and unloading. This results in zero wasted time, incredibly smooth operation and virtually infinite brake life (the brake is set only during extended idle periods). The motor has an absolute position encoder that provides motor rotation information to the controller, telling it exactly where to stop based on motor revolutions. The motor automatically adjusts to the varying product weight.

Chain-mounted counterweights that reduce the torque requirement on the motor and allow for the necessary speed to be achieved with less horsepower.

A 3' x 3' lift platform with chain-driven live rollers (CDLR), served by CDLR in-feed and discharge conveyors.

A one-unit-at-a-time liftcycle with a weight capacity of 20 lbs.

An achieved cycle time of 13 seconds; exactly as specified.

“We’ve always been the industry leader in using programmable control of motors on VRC applications,” said Mark Webster, PFlow vice president of engineering. “We constantly evaluate variable speed drive advancements in terms of capability, reliability, and cost effectiveness. The technology used at JL French is scalable to higher capacity and higher speed applications.”

Milwaukee, WI (December 15, 2006) – Acquisition Gives PFlow's Product Line A Lift

PFlow Industries, the leading manufacturer of vertical conveyors designed to transport materials between two or more levels, has purchased The Langley Manufacturing Company located in Victor, New York.

The new offerings will be sold through PFlow’s international network of distributors. Ruehl stated that PFlow also intends to keep serving Langley’s existing customer base with replacement parts.According to Ted Ruehl, President of PFlow, “this is a natural product line extension as Langley has been designing and manufacturing high quality material lifting and dumping machinery for over 40 years.” Ruehl sees excellent customer value in adding Langley’s Sidewalk Lift, designed for basement storage to street level transfer of materials through sidewalk openings, as well as its line of dumpers.

PFlow is coming off a record sales year in 2006 and Ruehl forecasts a “strong environment” for the material handling sector of the economy in 2007. He says PFlow continues to be interested in acquiring companies that offer high quality products in the material handling industry.

Since 1977, PFlow has offered total engineering, fabrication, and coast-to-coast installation services. At its headquarters in Milwaukee, company facilities include over 110,000 SF of manufacturing space and a complete research & development center. Over 35% of PFlow’s staff are engineers or R & D personnel.

PFlow lifts move materials of all shapes and sizes and are available in capacities from 50 lbs. to over 200,000 lbs. with unlimited vertical rise, and are especially useful in manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution operations. Mechanical, hydraulic, high-speed, high-throughput, and customized lifts are available, as well as fully automated systems. Applications, both interior and exterior, include mezzanines, balconies, through-floor, and elevator shafts.

PFlow also designs and manufactures a patented product called the Cartveyor™ Shopping Cart Conveyor which transports shopping carts from one level to another. Especially popular in multi-level retail stores, the Cartveyor is installed parallel and adjacent to an escalator and allows store customers to simply push their shopping carts in and ride the escalator next to their carts.

PFlow Industries has always focused on safety, advanced technology and creating solutions for specific vertical material handling problems.

Milwaukee, WI (December 11, 2006) – New Product from PFlow Industries Is Designed for Shopping at the Next Level

PFlow, a manufacturer of a complete line of vertical conveyors designed to transport materials between one or more levels for over 30 years, has unveiled a new website www.cartveyor.com  for its patented Cartveyor™ product.

The Cartveyor Shopping Cart Conveyor transports shopping carts from one level to another and is becoming increasingly popular as large retailers move into urban areas and build multi-level stores as opposed to expansive, single story layouts in suburban areas.

Several problems are created when shopping is done on multiple levels; one being the requirement to move customers with their shopping carts (or trolleys or buggies) between the levels. This problem is not easily solved with traditional means of vertical transportation. Elevators are not efficient for moving the high volume required, and inclined moving walkways take up a huge amount of retail space due to their requirement of being installed at a less than 12 degree incline.

Installed parallel and adjacent to an escalator, PFlow’s Cartveyor allows store customers to simply push their shopping carts in and ride the escalator next to their carts. (The Cartveyor can also be equipped as a stand alone unit.) The Cartveyor incorporates many safety features, requires minimal maintenance, and is designed for years of trouble free operation.

The new website features a video of the Cartveyor in action.

A major U.S. retailer, who already used PFlow’s vertical conveyor systems for moving pallets, challenged PFlow to solve the problem of safely and efficiently moving shopping carts between levels. Having successfully designed and built hundreds of continuous vertical conveyors for the United States Post Office and having over 35% of its personnel as engineers or Research & Development specialists, PFlow was more than up to the challenge as the Cartveyor demonstrates.

Milwaukee, WI (August 11, 2006) – PFlow Industries Helps New Balance Run Lean

“Lean Manufacturing.”  What’s that you ask? Perhaps a new carb-cutting diet from Dr. Atkins? Or better yet, a new invention by a team of global scientists that makes candy bars a healthy option as a midday snack?

It’s neither, but it’s something that should definitely be on a business’ menu for success! “Lean Manufacturing” is all the rage in warehouses and manufacturing plants world-wide. In the vernacular, the term itself was actually coined by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones while conducting research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the workplace,  “Lean Manufacturing “ is a model of management designed to make the best use of space, tools, materials, equipment and knowledge that ultimately helps manufacturers save time, movement and, eventually money.

There’s perhaps no better example in action than at New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc.—the global sporting goods industry leader which produces and ships 40 million shoes annually. Its fully-automated, state-of-the-art warehouse facility in Lawrence, Massachusetts boasts 250,000' and houses 130 employees.  Built in 1997, the warehouse has enabled New Balance to consolidate and streamline distribution of both domestically produced and imported products to retailers throughout the country. But more efficient material handling was attainable in large part due to “Lean Manufacturing”, and in no small part due to PFlow Industries.

Aside from a series of logistical adjustments that were made, a significant improvement to the overall process was the installation of a Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor from PFlow, a company recognized as being instrumental in actually creating the Vertical Conveyor industry. All in all, the efforts and updates have helped New Balance reduce the time needed to prepare and ship a full order from 17 weeks to just two.

Headquartered in Milwaukee, WI, PFlow has been the industry leader in the design and manufacturing of safe, vertical material handling equipment since 1977. VRCs from PFlow provide a fast, convenient and safe way to move goods to/from mezzanines, balconies, basements and between levels in multi-story buildings.

The New Balance warehouse, which contains a three-level mezzanine, has over three miles of conveyor belts running at any given time, and the shoes are processed in waves from a Tilt Tray sorter. One of the warehouse re-design’s major initiatives was to catch costly mistakes made in processing, such as incomplete boxes of shoes that were incorrectly selected for shipment, before they reached the end of the line.  PFlow’s “lean” machine perfectly suited to serve the 1.5 million dollar tilt-tray platform was a Series M Vertical Lift that is designed in particular to alleviate problems that might occur in unit processing. If and when a wave is run without the correct shoe, the PFlow M1 is loaded with the correct shoe necessary to make the order whole, and then, with the touch of an elevator-like button, brought to the proper level for insertion.

The Series M Lift offers high performance and durability with a two-post mechanical design that is ideal for transporting large, heavy loads between two or more levels. Bob Knapp of Baron Industries in Burlington, Massachusetts, who sold and distributed the lift, knew that PFlow’s Series M is also excellent for high-cycle, automated systems or frequent-use applications, such as the New Balance warehouse. PFlow engineered the machine for New Balance to meet the exact application and height requirements needed, and the carriage is lifted and lowered by a heavy roller chain attached to a motorized mechanical lifting mechanism.

While “lean manufacturing” didn’t turn out to be a way to speed up the metabolism, for New Balance it did speed up its run to the top of the athletic shoe industry. By applying the techniques presented by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, and seeking a higher level of performance with a little help from PFlow Industries, the Boston-based sneaker giant has dashed from No. 8 in 1995 to its current ranking of No. 4.

Milwaukee, WI (July 15, 2006) - PFlow Series 21 Vertical Lift Safely Handles Loads To 6,000 Pounds

The Series 21 Vertical Lift, by PFlow Industries, offers efficient, vertical material handling and is equipped with patented safety features not available on other vertical lifts. The unit transports materials between two levels and is adaptable to mezzanine, through-floor, interior or exterior applications.

Designed for loads up to 6,000 lbs., the Series 21 is available with carriage sizes to 10’ x 10’. The carriage—available in straddle or cantilever styles—is hydraulically lifted and lowered from level to level. The Series 21 Lift features 6” wide flange guide columns that are 66% heavier than other vertical lifts on the market, and oversized bearings and heavy roller chain ensure long-lasting performance.

The Series 21 Vertical Lift is equipped with a heavy torsion bar that links the two hydraulic lift cylinders in order to equalize the load, eliminate twisting of the carriage and relieve stress on the guides, columns and carriage. As a result, the carriage remains level at all times for smooth, efficient operation. Dual, spring-loaded safety cams provide added protection against uncontrolled descent. The Series 21 Lift can also be equipped with PFlow’s exclusive, patented DeckLock System that automatically locks the carriage into place at the critical upper levels and eliminates carriage bounce or drift.

The Series 21 also comes with a variety of standard safety features that meet or exceed code requirements. These features include 8’ high mesh enclosures, safety gates at each level, safety chains and railings, overtravel protection, backstop panels and remote, heavyduty control stations. All safety gates are electrically and mechanically interlocked with carriage movement and lift operation. Velocity fuses prevent uncontrolled carriage descent in the unlikely event of a total hydraulic hose rupture.

Milwaukee, WI (June 15, 2006)– PFlow Industries’ Engineers Flex Their Muscles for Heavy Lifting and Storage of Super-Sized Vehicles

Their Series DB has a lifting capacity to 100 lbs; Series C up to 200 lbs; Series D up to 3000 lbs; Series 21 up to 6000 lbs; Series M up to 8000 lbs; and Series F up to 30,000 lbs. So what happened when an application called for a load of 200,000 lbs? The Engineers and Research & Development personnel at PFlow got pumped up to design a Special Vertical Lifting Solution!

AIA Architects of Reno, NV had a client that owned property on a lake but plans for the residence would require slightly more than your standard three, four, or even five car garage. This client owned dozens of expensive sports, luxury, and vintage automobiles and motorcycles.

A large above-ground parking structure would have been considered unsightly, so the obvious direction to go seemed to be down. But building a ramp would have consumed valuable real estate, and besides, no ordinary underground garage would do. AIA’s client also needed room for three large recreational vehicles, a 55-foot offshore racing boat and a helicopter!

In response, AIA designed a parking facility or more precisely a “carriage house” consisting of three levels - two above ground and one below. The uppermost level has over 2,300' of space including two bedrooms, two baths, a living room, office/den, kitchen and a deck overlooking the lake. The other two levels are for parking, featuring 2,000' F at the driveway level and 6,100 SF below grade.

AIA’s concept called for a hydraulic lift with a platform large enough to accommodate the largest vehicle  - a 55' RV weighing more than 50,000 lbs. The lift needed to retract completely into a 13' pit, followed by the 90,000 pound “lid” of steel and concrete that would double as part of the driveway when in the lowered position. Add the platform itself, and the total weight to be lifted would exceed 100 tons.

But it wouldn’t be that easy; other factors were involved. So, knowing expert and experienced capabilities would be needed, AIA contacted PFlow to design and manufacture what would be a state-of-the-art lifting system.

The fact that the lift would have to fully retract into the pit and yet be flush with the driveway when raised would require that the platform guides terminate some distance below grade, which presented a formidable design challenge.

A shallow water table and environmental concerns would preclude a deep pit under the platform. In addition, the short length of engagement between the platform and guides would offer little help in keeping the platform level under uneven loading.

The PFlow team was not fazed by the complications. To ensure a level platform throughout travel, and to provide accurate positioning at loading and unloading points, a servo-hydraulic system was incorporated. Lifting is accomplished via six 12" bore telescopic hydraulic cylinders and a 75hp, 600-gallon hydraulic power unit delivering 160gpm. Oil is supplied to each cylinder through an independent hydraulic circuit with servo-proportional control valves for regulating flow. To track position, individual linear transducers are incorporated on each cylinder providing absolute position feedback to the multi-axis servo control module. Through this module, position, velocity, drive level, position error and many other values can be monitored in real time and plotted. The parameters for each axis can also be tuned independently.

With absolute position data available for each cylinder, important safety-monitoring functions are possible. The system automatically stops travel if any cylinder axis fails to follow the prescribed path within a pre-set tolerance, or if an axis goes out of synchronization with any other axis. A programmable logic controller is used to link the servo-controller to the rest of the system, receiving signals from position switches and other input devices, monitoring system status and controlling the operation of the hydraulic power system and the safety features. Fault diagnostics and audible/visual alarms indicate action required by the operator, either to reset the system or call for service. If the platform drifts downward at the upper level, it will automatically re-level.

It seems that no job (or load) is too big (or heavy) when PFlow puts its minds to it. The company also has lifts in operation handling diverse materials ranging from 50,000 lbs. paper rolls to 110,000 lbs. fuel cells.

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