PLS, a Mobility Networks company, has successfully engineered and installed a unique stretcher lift to a highly bespoke, medical coach built by King Long – a world’s first in lift design for disabled passengers.
PLS is the UK-leading name in the design, manufacture and maintenance of powered lifts and ramps for accessible buses, coaches, ambulances and specialist vehicles. PLS was commissioned by the coach manufacturer King Long to install a specialist accessible lift to a flat floor, 12.2m XMQ6129 coach. This accessible, Across ‘Jumbulance’ now operates in the UK and France, providing transportation for severely disabled passengers and medical personnel. The addition of a fully automatic, powered stretcher lift by PLS has allowed passengers with severely limited mobility to go on holiday whether bedbound or using a wheelchair. The coach was fitted with floor rails for wheelchair tie-downs and removable seating so that several wheelchairs could be accommodated along with four stretcher beds.
The complete conversion of the King Long coach to a fully accessible, specialist care vehicle involved over 12 months of endeavour. The final vehicle is a pioneering design in accessibility and is unique across the world. Both the coach convertors, BDC of Blackpool, and PLS, the lift supplier, had to overcome several challenges to ensure the Jumbulance met all the criteria required.
PLS successfully designed and fitted a stainless steel, fully automatic stretcher lift that was housed in the base of the main locker. This substantial feat of engineering brought together lifting principles and components from several, individual PLS AccessTM designs. The result was a strong, safe platform with a 500kg lifting capacity that smoothly rises from ground level up to a raised side door entrance. The powerful lift requires no manual operation and incorporates all the safety features associated with PLS products – from automatic ‘roll-off stops’ and anti-slip surfaces to a flat bridging plate for seamless transfers. The 2100x925mm platform provides ample space and lifting capacity for a stretcher-bound passenger along with a carer who can operate the lift via a roaming controller.
Adam Beck, PLS Managing Director commented: “The PLS team and I are proud to have produced such a pioneering solution for King Long. We had to engage all of our extensive experience in this project, combining concepts from several lift models into one unique solution. As PLS has recently located to substantially larger premises, we were able to accommodate the complete coach inside the building when installing the lift – another first for us. In the past 20 years I would regard this as the most complex, yet rewarding installation PLS has ever achieved. Throughout the build we worked closely with King Long and BDC to ensure the highest quality was delivered in terms of lift installation. This in turn ensures maximum safety and peace of mind for operators and passengers. When you consider the accessibility and subsequent new travel experiences the PLS lift now opens up, our involvement in the conversion is even more fulfilling.”
Ray McNally, King Long Director added: “It certainly was a challenging adventure, but King Long was keen and enthusiastic to accept this specialist project. By coordinating and working closely with both PLS and BDC, King Long with its coach production flexibility was able to offer a complete one stop solution with a combination of practicality and uncompromising luxury.”