Ode to a hydraulic lift table
In the pathology lab of Disease Investigations, we work mostly indoors in a climate-controlled lab with plenty of generic and specialized equipment that must be cleaned and disinfected daily. This lab and equipment help us deal with infectious agents, animals too heavy to lift manually, cutting through hard tissues, and other difficulties, but sometimes the job still requires just plain hard work! Recently, a key piece of equipment was replaced – our hydraulic lift table.
Here is a little history on our amazing table. The necropsy room was built in 1970. It looks very similar today with the addition of a walk in refrigerator. For large animals, there was a table with a surface made of a series of metal tubes, held on a basic rectangle frame, with wheels. I am sure it was designed by the staff and made to order. Fast-forward almost 40 years, the table was still in use, but many of the tubes had rusted regions and holes where the rust had completely worn through.
Thanks to a generous donation, in 2009 the tube table was retired and replaced by a state-of-the-art scissor hydraulic necropsy table, and the staff loved it. It had a stainless steel top, and a metal scissor lift, and a small motor with the capability to lift up to two tons! Finally, no more tedious bending over for the taller staff members or step ladders to reach the top of a large mammal.
However, over 10 years, the constant cleaning and disinfection required to prevent the spread of disease took their toll on the non-stainless lift components, and corrosion caused the hydraulic system to fail last year. What to do?
Replacing the table would be costly, and replacing the entire table in stainless steel would be twice as expensive. Luckily we have creative and innovative staff welders. They evaluated the problem and came up with an alternative, completely stainless steel option. They designed the table so the motor would be housed on the wall and protected from water or chemicals. They were able to have all the components, down to the hose connections, made out of stainless steel. This was not easy and it took time to research and order the material.
Their extensive knowledge of working with stainless steel is unmatched, however, and the finished product is a work of art. The table now can hold and lift up to 10,000 pounds, move in all directions, and it can be completely cleaned and disinfected without fear of rust. We expect it will last our life time and participate in solving innumerable animal disease mysteries!