Material Handling On Tour
January 15, 2011
See the role material handling plays in summer concerts.
As the old song goes, it's summertime and, for MHEDA vacationers, the living is easy. Not only does the summer feature the warmest weather of the year, it also boasts the best concert tours. From Bob Dylan to Madonna and Dave Matthews to the Police, there are countless options for musically-inclined Edgers. So grab your seat, kick up your feet and watch your industry work while you're at play.
For years, the material handling industry has helped put together elaborate sets, saving roadies some backache. Major concert tours often bring along several tractor-trailers full of supplies. These include lighting, set pieces, instruments and, in thecae of some '80sbands, crates of hairspray. The loading docks are where material handling equipment shines. A dock leveler can be used, and lift trucks make moving heavy amplifiers a breeze. Also, most equipment boxes come equipped with casters for easier mobility. While important, when it comes to material handling at a music venue, these examples are merely the opening act.
Stage lifts are the real headliners of this show, and Autoquip Corporation (Guthrie, OK) has helped produce more superstars than American Idol. According to Robert Spiva, Autoquip special projects estimator, the company's portable scissor lifts have been used for elevating performers, lighting equipment, stage segments and set decorations for numerous traveling road shows, including those by Paul McCartney, the Backstreet Boys, Prince and even the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
Typically this kind of equipment has lifting capacities in the range of about 1,000 to 6,000 pounds with vertical travel of up to 10 feet. If necessary, though, these limits can be pushed further. Platform liftsizes vary according to the application and have been known to take on some unusual shapes. Sometimes several lifts are linked together, creating a unique platform capable of producing special effects. These lifts are almost always wheel-mounted and segmented to facilitate easier loading and unloading.
Stage lifts can also serve another purpose-they can expand the stage. These larger platforms often are placed in the orchestra pit. With lift capacity potential upwards of 40,000 pounds, they provide larger performance area and bring the fans closer to the artist.
From casters to stage lifts, the material handling industry helps make summer concerts possible. So next time between songs, instead of shouting "Free Bird," take a minute to recognize how your industry makes nights like this happen.