Airbags and cushions allow you to elevate heavy loads in situations that would defeat conventional jacks. Matjack Industrial Products introduces its range of inflatable lifting equipment.
Matjack Indianapolis Industrial Products started out in Indianapolis in 1981 as a manufacturer of high-pressure (120psi/8bar) airbags for the structural mover and manufactured housing fields. Over the years, improvements to its manufacturing process, along with superior materials developed for its exclusive use, enabled it to expand its product line and build what are considered to be the best airbags currently available.
During these early years, the Indiana firm not only developed better high pressure airbags, but also delved into the production of low and medium-pressure cushions (7psi/0.5bar and 14.7psi/1.0bar respectively). This additional equipment complemented its high- pressure line, giving it a full range of capacities and various sizes to meet almost any lifting requirement.
At the same time, it opened up a plethora of potential new customers in a wide range of industries, including worldwide fire services and the military. In the 1990s, it began selling to the oil and gas industry, due to a need for lifting above-ground pipe and storage tanks. Matjacks were deemed ideal for refurbishing and maintenance work with very low insertion requirements (1in or under, in most cases), high weight capacities and relatively low working pressures. Matjacks eventually also found their way onto offshore oil rigs for the same sort of work, where heavy loads had to be lifted with very low clearances.
Jack of all trades
Matjacks work the same as all lifting jacks and are rated accordingly. However, several differences with airbags need to be understood before success is possible. First, all jack capacities are determined the same way: working pressure multiplied by surface area. With high-pressure airbags, however, each capacity is determined as a flat surface, but as they lift, the bags 'pillow', losing surface area - and therefore capacity - as they inflate.
It is important, then, to pay attention to the included lift charts, or the 'half-and-half rule' (calculated using half the maximum unloaded inflation height and half the maximum rated tonnage) for an accurate picture of how the airbag will perform under a load. This is probably the most important piece of information you will ever learn about using high-pressure airbags, as not only will it determine whether or not you can lift a certain load, but it will also get it to the required height wherever blocking and shoring are not options.
Low and medium-pressure Matjacks are great for controlled situations, such as cantilever lifts, or rail (or rigged) scenarios in which the load is controlled by outside forces. Like high-pressure bags, cushions have low insertion heights, but these can be as much as 4in/10cm, depending on their size.
An advantage to using cushions is the tremendous height that can be achieved, but a trade-off is the lower capacities due to working pressures and the larger sizes required to achieve additional weight capacities.
Once cushions and airbags are understood, the only limit to the amount of work they can do is the customer's imagination. Matjack Industrial Products constantly strives to remain at the forefront of technology and is always pushing for new methods to improve its products in order to serve its clients better.