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Hydraulic and Mechanical Jacks in the Construction Industry

A jack is a versatile tool that uses force to lift heavy loads. Screw threads and hydraulic cylinders are the primary mechanisms with which force is applied; therefore, jacks fall under the categories of mechanical or hydraulic.

House Jacks

Mechanical jacks, such as car jacks and house jacks, hoist heavy equipment and are rated on lift capacity. Hydraulic jacks, on the other hand, tend to be stronger and can hoist heavier loads higher. These types include bottle jacks and floor jacks.

Both mechanical and hydraulic jacks are used in countless industries, including the automotive, shipping, mining, waste removal, and retail sectors. Jacks are also commonly utilized in construction applications to lift heavy equipment and support or lift a building during renovation or relocation.

Mechanical Jacks in Construction

Often found in automotive garages, mechanical jacks use physical means to raise and lower loads, which typically range from 1.5 tons to 3 tons. A screw jack is a common type of mechanical jack, which works via a motor or lever cranked by an operator. A screw uses the shape of its threads to raise or lower the load, or a traveling nut does the lifting while the screw turns in place. Mechanical jacks are self-locking, which means that when power is removed from the jack, the screw stays in place until power resumes. This setup makes mechanical jacks safer than their hydraulic counterparts, because users don’t have to fear a loss of power.

Mechanical jacks are used to change stage designs, alter settings on woodworking machines, and adjust radio telescopes. In the construction industry, screw jacks — also called house jacks — are used to hoist buildings from their foundations for repair or relocation. In these applications, multiple jacks are utilized, and wood cribbing temporarily supports the structure until the desired lift is reached. Screw jacks can also be used for raising older beams or installing new ones.

Hydraulic Jacks in Construction

Hydraulic Jacks in Bridge Construction

Hydraulic jacks, predictably, use hydraulic fluid as their main power source. They consist of a pair of cylinders of different sizes connected by a pipe and hydraulic fluid or oil. The hydraulic fluid is forced into the cylinder of the jack via a pump plunger. When the plunger pulls back, oil goes from the reservoir into the pump chamber. When the plunger moves forward, the oil is propelled into the cylinder. This oil movement builds up pressure in the cylinder, and that pressure powers the jack.

The two most common types of hydraulic jacks are bottle jacks and floor jacks. Bottle jacks, also called hand jacks, are portable. The piston is positioned vertically, and it supports a bearing pad that touches the object being lifted. They’re most commonly used to lift cars, but they can also be used in the medical industry as hydraulic stretchers and patient lifts. Hydraulic jacks also can be utilized as pipe benders and cable splicers.

In floor jacks, also known as trolley jacks, the piston is in a horizontal position, and a long arm provides vertical motion to a lifting pad. There also are wheels and castors included in their build. In the construction arena, hydraulic jacks are used for lifting equipment and vehicles such as bulldozers, forklifts, trolleys, trailers, and excavators. These versatile jacks can also lift elevators in low- and medium-rise buildings.

Supplying the Construction Industry for Decades

For nearly 80 years, Metro Hydraulic Jack Co. has been a leading distributor and service provider for industrial hydraulic equipment, jacks, tools, parts, and lubrication equipment, and we’re proud to offer top-quality mechanical and hydraulic jacks for customers across a wide range of industries.

Request a quote today to learn how we can help with your specific lifting needs.

 

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Why is Safety Important?

In the construction industry, safety is always a relevant issue. Although the industry has taken steps to promote a greater awareness of the importance of safety in the workplace, accidents still occur. Some of these accidents are preventable, which is why it is important to educate industry members about safe practices and procedures regularly. Just recently, in Midtown Manhattan, a woman was struck by a flying buzzsaw from a nearby construction crew. NBC New York reports that the woman sustained a gash on her leg from the 3-foot blade and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Thankfully, the injury was not serious. The incident is a strong reminder that accidents can and will happen, creating serious breaches in safety. In this case, the construction crew had been using the buzzsaw to tear up a roadway to fix an underground water main. Witnesses say that the blade came off the machine and was propelled down the sidewalk by its own force. As a result, workers and bystanders alike were put at harmful risk. To minimize the likelihood of accidents like the one in Manhattan, groups like the Construction Industry Safety Initiative (CISI) and Incident & Injury Free (IIF) Group strive to develop a culture where safety is a core value. Events such as Safety Week 2014, which was held in May, help promote this idea through free organized activities, employee training, and safety performance evaluations. At Metro Hydraulic, we’ve worked hard to encourage a safety culture at our distribution and service centers. We fully support efforts by the construction industry to bring the issue of safety to the forefront of discussion—and on workers’ minds. We hope that these events make a positive difference in the lives of both construction workers and the larger public.
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Building Bridges with Hydraulics

This year, two major bridges in the tri-state area have either begun or planned out major renovations and infrastructure repairs. These include the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge and Pulaski Skyway. Both projects have a budget of $1 billion or more, and require substantial construction. Metro Hydraulic is proud to report that some of this work will be completed with the help of our hydraulic equipment. The George Washington Bridge, an 82-year-old bridge that connects New York and New Jersey, is set to undergo a series of renovations and upgrades over the course of seven years. According to CBS, the planned changes include replacing 592 suspender ropes, repairing the main cables, installing new safety technology, and swapping the necklace lighting our for programmable LED lights. The extensive construction project is slated to begin in 2017 and end in 2024. Like the George Washington Bridge, the Pulaski Skyway is also 82-years-old. It was recently shut down for a reconstruction project that may take about two years. The Pulaski Skyway is often used by riders who travel from New Jersey to New York through the Holland Tunnel. Unfortunately for these commuters, the bridge needs significant renovations to its reinforcing bars, concrete railings, and roadbed, among others. The New York Times reports that the crossing has become “so frayed that the state installed netting to catch the falling debris.” Metro Hydraulic distributes hydraulic equipment to some of the construction companies that work on these projects and other, similar infrastructure repairs. As the tri-state area moves forward with renovations on the George Washington Bridge and Pulaski Skyway, they will rely on our high-quality equipment and timely shipments to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. As a member of the New Jersey community, we look forward to the completion of these exciting renovations!
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Innovations for Hydraulics: Advanced Bridge Construction

One of our main sectors of business here at Metro Hydraulic is within the sphere of construction. There are many different uses of hydraulics in construction, from materials handling, to jacks and pullers, and other applications for transport of materials and work pieces. One of the coolest innovations we’ve seen in construction recently also utilizes hydraulics, and we’re intrigued. This article is a great expo on the new process called “Accelerated bridge construction” or “ABC”, for building highway overpasses and other bridge structures, and explains what we think is a great new process that improves vastly on the old for several reasons. First, it allows traffic to continue to flow while the building process, which takes up the majority of the time of construction, is in progress. This alone is immensely practical solution to the tedious detours associated with most other jobs of this type. The road closure time taken for this particular application was 8 hours – an incredible reduction of time and associated labor costs. The system that makes this possible is a combination of hydraulics and a lubricated sliding surface. The new structure is progressively slid into place along the sliding surfaces, pushed by hydraulic jacks which are incrementally moved as the new platform is slid into place. We’ve seen a lot of great innovation in our experience with construction, and this is no exception. ABC represents a significantly improved process that serves both commuters who use the roadways and construction companies that build them. It’s heartening for us as hydraulic suppliers to see hydraulic systems being used to such great effect for construction. We hope this process continues to be gain acceptance and be further implemented for infrastructure construction and repair everywhere.
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Fall Protection in Construction

It’s a sad fact that the construction industry is a dangerous one. If the proper steps aren’t taken to ensure workers safety, the risk of injury or fatality is high. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claims 46 hundred construction workers were killed on the job in 2011, which is third lowest annual total in the two decades since the fatal injury census started. The worst thing about this fact is every onsite injury is preventable.

“Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths,” according to OSHA’s fall protection page. “Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.”

Overhead platforms, elevated work stations, and holes in the floor and walls all pose hazards for workers, and it’s the responsibility of employers to make sure that precautions have been taken to keep workers safe. Once a workers height reaches four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry or eight feet in long shoring operations, OSHA mandates that fall protection measure are taken. This also applies to workers that are above dangerous equipment. Here are employer requirements to prevent falls and other injuries:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety and harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
  • Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
  • Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
  • Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
  • Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.

There are a lot of things for employers to keep track of, but keeping up with OSHA’s high standards is the best way for construction companies to keep their workers safe. These construction dangers can be limited if employers take proactive steps to provide for the safety of their employees. We at Metro Hydraulic encourage you to do your part to make sure your work environment is on par with these regulations. Tweet @MetroHydraulic and tell us your safety stories today!

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