Stertil Koni’s Earthlift mobile hydraulic life columns reduce energy use by 35%
Established in 1962, Stertil Koni is a designer and manufacturer of hydraulic lifts, specialising in the design of mobile lift columns. It supports its customers with aftermarket maintenance and inspection services.
Stertil Koni only manufactures and sells its own products. It also installs its lifts and provides aftermarket care and servicing.
Tony Edge, Stertil Koni General Manager and Simon Laffoley, National Accounts Manager, spoke with FACTS about how the company maintains its high standards of reliability and its place in the lift market.
“We are well on our way now to producing 100,000 mobile lifts. We are the world leaders in it,” said Tony. “I’m proud to say that we are acclaimed for the quality of our products and I truly believe that the Stertil Koni range offers an outstanding price to performance ratio.”
Stertil Koni makes a range of mobile hydraulic lift columns that connect wirelessly with each other. Up to 32 columns can be linked into a single lift set-up where they all coordinate to ensure a smooth and even lift. Importantly, this also helps them handle unevenly balanced vehicles. Built-in enhanced safety, through the use of hydraulic pressure valves, ensures that the stated safe working load of the lifts cannot be exceeded.
The wireless lifts use a fob to ensure they can only be operated by trained and approved technicians. This is also used to create a set – a random number is generated for each lift, linking all the columns with a unique tag. This means that multiple sets of lifts can be linked together within their operating distance without interfering with each other.
As an additional safety feature (currently not required by CE certification), once the lifts are raised on the pallet-truck mechanism ready to be moved they disconnect from the set. “What a lot of other companies do is to leave the set tied together,” Tony said. So if you’ve just used a set of six and you want to set up a new set of four, you move those away to another vehicle but the other two will still go up because they haven’t disconnected from the set.”
The Earthlift is a special “green” version of the company’s hydraulic lifts, introduced in 2008. Its patented Active Energy Retrieval System uses gravity to charge the battery. When the lift descends, the energy produced is used to recharge the battery. This energy saving feature makes the Earthlift 35% more energy efficient compared to conventional hydraulic models.
It can make up to 50 lifting cycles without needing to recharge its batteries, reducing downtime and maximising profit. It also makes the Earthlift one of the most environmentally friendly lifting units available.
“It reduces the lift’s carbon footprint dramatically,” Tony said. “It’s been quite successful with councils and fire brigades because they’re tasked with reducing their carbon footprints.”
When drained, the battery can be charged from a 230-volt charging source. The Earthlift comes in 8.5-tonne and 10-tonne models.
The battery power source and wireless connectivity also remove potentially hazardous wires, reducing the risk of tripping. In addition, it is made from recyclable components and uses biodegradable oil in its hydraulic systems.
The right stuff
Stertil Koni’s hydraulic lifts are built to last. As such, providing aftermarket care and support is a vital part of its business. That includes ensuring that the company always has spare parts available.
“In the UK, we are still supplying spares for lifts that are 35 to 40 years old,” said Tony.
“We honour the agreement that if you buy a lift from us,” Simon added, “we will still supply spares for a minimum of 25 years after it comes out of production – not when you buy it, but when we stop making that model.
It is this quality and reliability that attracts Stertil Koni’s customers. From major bus companies to local governments, Stertil provides lifts to a variety of major players. Their market leading heavy-duty lift range includes 2-post lifts, 4-post lifts, half-scissor platform lifts, inground lifts, washbay lifts and their renowned range of wireless and cabled mobile column lifts.
“The councils buy a lot of our stuff because they know they’re only getting one bite of the apple,” said Simon “For councils in Scotland, I think there are 33 councils – 28 have our lifts and the other five are remotely located and don’t have workshops.
“All the islands have our lifts because it’s worth paying a little extra for that quality and reliability. If something goes wrong, it’s difficult to get an engineer out there. We have two directly employed Stertil Koni engineers based in Scotland to cover the local area.”
“We have 30 engineers directly employed by us,” Tony added. These engineers operate out of fully stocked vans carrying a comprehensive range of spare parts on board.”
“We only carry Koni spares and we only work on our own products, which sometimes can cause problems because a lot of companies want one mechanic to come in and service all the equipment they’ve got. However, because we only work on our own lifts, our first-fix rate is in excess of 90%.”
Part of the reason Stertil Koni was established was to offer a level of after sales quality that was missing from the market. The company has leveraged its knowledge and expertise to advise its customers and help them install their lifts.
“If you show us your fleet, we will have something in our product range to lift that quickly and safely for a long period of time,” Simon said. Stertil Koni then provides experts to install the lifts.
“The lift’s only as good as the person who’s fitting it,” said Tony. “If they’re not fitting it correctly, you’re going to have problems all the way. That’s why we’re the only ones who fit them and the only ones who can touch them during the warranty period. Once they’re out of the warranty period, the customer has the choice of who they want to work on them.”
“We’re always trying to stay ahead,” Tony added. “Normally when we bring a product out, we can guarantee within four or five years our competitors will have the same. So we need to keep ahead of the competition implementing innovative new lift designs and technology.”