Volume 2, Issue 10 – May 31st, 2014
Under lobbying pressure from the elevator industry, Maryland has made it virtually illegal to use vertical reciprocating conveyors in warehouses and other industrial facilities.
The state did this by placing VRCs within the same category of safety regulations that covers freight elevators, even if they don’t carry passengers.
According to DC Velocity magazine, the ban extends to all kinds of VRCs. The material handling association MHI defines VRCs as power- or gravity-actuated lifts that move material vertically between two or more fixed elevations, such as warehouse mezzanines.
The association stressed that this equipment is not designed to carry passengers or an operator. MHI members meet regularly to review, discuss and implement programs promoting the safe application, design, installation and operation of VRCs.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers sets standards for both VRCs and material lift (freight) elevators that recognize the substantial differences between the two types of systems, MHI noted.
To confuse the two systems under the regulations, the association said, “is not only a misinterpretation of the code itself, but imposes unreasonable requirements on, creates unnecessary regulatory and administrative obstructions for, and places an additional financial burden on the end user of the equipment.”
DC Velocity reported that other unnamed states are considering similar measures but none has moved as aggressively as Maryland.
The magazine also reported that conveyor manufacturers fear that such strict regulations will spread to other states and that elevator codes may also end up covering other vertical technologies including spiral conveyors, vertical shuttles, inclines and vertical lift modules.