Freestanding 3-Axis Paint Lift

Project Type: Paint Booth Applications


A full service railcar repair and paint facility was faced with a logistical challenge in the painting area of the facility.  Accessing surfaces (especially at elevated heights) on rail cars, tanks and hoppers was difficult due to the large radius sides and varying shapes. Total paint coverage, consistency and quality was difficult to achieve because of this challenge.  In addition, the overall length of the paint area allowed for several railcars to be serviced at a single time which led to logistical bottlenecks. To access the railcars, the painters were using a combination of ladders and rolling scaffolding which required them to climb up and down to reposition on a regular basis.  The tiring and time consuming task increased the potential for falls and other motion related injuries. After reviewing and evaluating the customer’s process and listening to their needs, LPI presented a solution that allows work in the entire area and provides worker access to all surfaces of railcars for paint application.


The paint area is an open bay with an active spray zone 200' long, allowing workers to paint on several cars at a time if needed.  The floor of the area is higher on the sides of the railcar and lower in the middle which prevents floor based lifts and platforms from being positioned on the ends of the cars.  The distance from the sides of the railcars to the building structure was too great to utilize LPI’s standard wall mounted lifts which are able to extend out to provide access to the ends.


The opportunity presented was to design a lift system that could solve these issues:

  • Travel the entire 200' length of the paint area on each side of a railcar.

  • Provide painter access to curved railcar sides at elevated heights.

  • Elevate and extend out on the ends of the railcars and not be attached to any of the walls in the bay.

  • Supply air to the lift and paint line for the painter, while traveling 200' without the hose laying on the floor via an overhead hose management system that was compatible with the ceiling truss spacing.


Team members met with the customer's Production and Operations Managers to find out what challenges they faced and what outcome they were looking for.  Additionally, discussions were had with the painters to see if there were specific parts of the process that were especially challenging to insure that their needs were addressed by the solution.  Measurements and photos of the area were taken for discussion with the LPI Engineering team to determine the best fit of equipment for the area and application.


LPI's Engineering team determined that a variation of the standard 3-Axis lift (LP2) was the best fit for the application because it allowed the painter to move lengthwise (X-Axis) along the side, travel up and down (Z-Axis) and extend out (Y-Axis) on the ends of the railcars.  However, due to distance of the building structure from the railcar, a custom drive base was necessary.

LPI’s customized solution began with a standard 3-Axis lift (LP2) and incorporated these features to solve the customer’s challenges:

  • Four wheel drive base that would support the lift mast and forces created when the lift is fully extended out on the ends of the cars.

  • Lift drive base guide rails embedded into the floor to eliminate trip hazards and allow for smooth fork truck traffic in the bay area. The embedded rails run parallel with the railcar and tracks insuring that the lift travels at a uniform distance alongside the railcar. The other two axes of movement (Y & Z travel) allow them to elevate and extend to reach all areas of the car including the top and ends.

  • Hose reel on the back of the lift drive base and ceiling of the bay to deliver the air supply to the lift and painter. Placing the overhead hose reel in the center of the bay, combined with a unique hose management system on the lift, allowed the lift to travel the entire 200' length with only 100' of hose.


The customized solution provided an immediate and long term ROI for the customer.

  • Improved Safety - The immediate and most important payback was increased operator safety. Painters (on both sides of the railcars) can now enter the lift and paint an entire side of the railcar without having to get out of the lift or reposition scaffolding or ladders.

  • Increased Productivity - The installation of the Freestanding LP2 lifts reduced the overall time needed to complete the work, and within a short period of time the customer saw a 14% reduction in painting time per car. The Production and Operations Managers anticipate that as the painters become more proficient in operating the lifts for painting, efficiency will continue to improve and a greater increase in productivity will be seen.

  • Reduction in Rework and Touch-Ups – A secondary benefit as a result of better access to the railcar surfaces was the reduction of painting rework and touch-ups.  Painters are able to reach and see all parts of the railcar which allows them to get better paint coverage and visual inspection as they paint.  The result was a reduction of rework and improvement in the quality of the paint job.

Photo Gallery

Freestanding 3-Axis Paint Lift

Contact LPI to see how we can make your environment safer and more productive.