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Hand Trucks vs. Power Lift Hand Trucks

When to choose (or not choose) a power lift over a hand truck

Lift 'N Buddy Inquiry

Hand truck
Hand truck

I imagine most everyone has used a hand truck. They’re great for moving heavy loads faster and easier than hauling them manually. But what about unloading that hand truck once you get the load where you want it? Can your back handle the last couple of boxes at the bottom of the stack? How are your knees? How’s your upper body strength? Can everyone working in your operation safely and easily lift the load to shelving or a work table?

The beauty of the hand truck

Hand trucks can be found in just about every industrial operation. And they have their place in those facilities.

The platform is thin enough to slide it under most things you’d want to load, like stacks of cartons, boxes, bins and buckets. Gently tilt the entire load back onto the wheels, and off you go to the desired location for your load. Once you get there, you slowly tilt the load into the vertical position and slip the platform out from under the load. Nice and simple.

What if your landing place isn’t on the floor?

So you’ve rolled your load near its destination. The stack is ready for final placement – but it has to be loaded up onto shelving, a workbench, conveyor, etc. Now you have to bend, lift, turn and place repeatedly until the load has been taken care of. Oh, my aching back. Over time, even very strong workers may end hurt their backs due to the strain of repetitive lifting. In fact, the strongest and fittest are the most likely to ignore proper and safe lifting methods. While the hand truck certainly gets the load where you want it, it doesn’t help with loading it.

There’s a better way when it comes to loading/unloading

Let’s go back to where you arrive at the location with your load on the hand truck. Tilt the load to the vertical, then push a button and the load lifts until the top box is at the right height. Then simply slide the box off the truck and into place. Continue pushing that button for each box until you’ve got the entire stack unloaded. How does your back feel? Even if you have to move the box some, you aren’t pulling it from floor level to a higher point.

What kind of contraption does that?

It’s called a Lift ‘N Buddy, and it’s a hybrid piece of material handling equipment that works like a hand truck, but can elevate the load for you. It has some special features the hand truck doesn’t have. Like a larger platform and battery powered lift connected to that platform with up to 36″ of vertical travel for loads up to 350 pounds. Even better, the controls can be used remotely to make it easier to judge the height you need the lift to raise or lower to for best loading and unloading positions.

How to know which product you need

Pay close attention to the applications row in this table.

Feature Hand Truck Lift ‘N Buddy
Load Capacity up to 800 lbs. up to 350 lbs.
Platform Size 7.5″ x 18″ 16″ x 20″
Lift Height 0″ up to 36″
Wheels 10″ 10″
Applications Floor level stacking

Light load relocation

Heavy load floor level placement

Raised placement

Moderate load relocation

Loading from raised level

Retail shelf stocking

Those are the indicators that can help you know when a hand truck is the best choice and when you might want to consider the investment into a lift hand truck like a Lift ‘N Buddy. Hand trucks are great for quick, one-time relocation of stacked goods or large, heavy single items that will be left on the floor level. If you’re faced with repeated product placement from to or from raised levels, then you will be better off choosing a Lift ‘N Buddy because of the ergonomic advantages and the time saved in being able to raise and lower the platform level for easier loading and unloading.

Lift 'N Buddy delivery

Some additional benefits to consider with the Lift ‘N Buddy are that moderately heavy loads are easier to handle by those who are less than that of body-builder stature. More people are available for the same job than if you rely only on a hand truck and a strong back. This gives you more labor flexibility. The mechanical advantage of the vertically traveling platform helps even us light-weights be able to do the job required. Additionally, Lift ‘N Buddy devices greatly aid delivery situations where unloading from a truck bed or van is made much easier.

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Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.

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