For the last 22 years Her Majesty’s Theatre Ballarat has been working with an old mobile scissor lift to move stage sets and equipment from street level to stage level, a distance of 6.3 metres. Not only was it an arduous task to have to wheel it into position, it was becoming an OH&S concern.
“In order to load it you were reaching above waist level and we had no facility to attach it to trucks so it was very difficult to load from them,” remarked Liz Mundell, Technical Operations Manager. “There was always a gap between the lift and the back of the truck. Also if the winds got above 15 kilometres an hour we theoretically weren’t supposed to use the lift – and in Ballarat that’s a gentle breeze!”
Other issues included the size of lift and the amount it could carry so council made funds available for a new lift and the project was put out to tender. Prerequisites were a lift that was fully enclosed and was able to be adjusted to line up with the back of the trucks that were being unloaded, which ranged from small 3 tons to large semi-trailers. The historical venue also had heritage issues that needed to be taken into consideration.
Jands, the staging specialists, won the tender and took on the challenge and the end result is basically one very large dumb waiter!
“Jands created a steel framework that attaches to the building and this can be removed to adhere to heritage guidelines should it ever need to,” explained Liz. “Inside the steel framework sits a steel cage attached to two chain motors (capable of holding 2000kg) and held together with 2 pink shackles. We have a controller to operate the unit, we push and hold buttons which move it and a series of limiters have been programmed in to ensure that it stops and starts safely where it needs to. It has a large door that raises up at the front and Jands have created a ‘jog window’ – when the cage is at street level we have the facility to put in a jog controller and adjust the cage to be level with the rear height of the truck we are unloading. We can then record that height, then every time we move the lift we can accurately take it back to the height of the truck we’re using that day.”
The lift can take sets and equipment up to four metres in height, it has a floor area of 2.6m x 1.9 m and it can move up to 2000 kilos – a big jump from the previous allowance of 500 kilos. According to Liz, the lift has worked brilliantly.
“It’s fully enclosed so now we are protected from the weather and more importantly, the ability to adjust it to the truck height means that manual handling risks have been reduced,” she added. “It also means no one can be tempted to do something that is unsafe. Nothing can fall off the lift which was an issue with the old lift. It’s a significant improvement and has done everything we asked of it. It’s quiet, smooth and we’re particularly happy with the way the ‘jog window works’.”
For more information on how Jands Staging can assist you with your project visit www.jands.com.au