Story: PETER McSEAN
More people are fitting load-handling kit to their vans these days. The main reason for the increase is concern for duty of care.
But you don’t need the Health and Safety Executive to tell you that manhandling heavy cargo each day carries risks. People lifting awkward stuff in and out of vans need to be safe – and if they’re your people, you need to make sure they’re safe, for their own good.
But it also makes sound business sense. When you’re a small operation, having a key employee off with a dodgy back can is more than a pain in the back.
There are other advantages, too. If the business need is there, a load-handling conversion will save time and boost efficiency – you’ll get more done more quickly. By taking the heavy lifting out of a job, it also gives your business more flexibility over who can do the work – not just your resident big burly bloke, for instance.
And it will mean your van operative will be less fatigued during the day and, therefore, more alert while working, both behind the wheel and on site. In each case, your business stands to benefit.
Load-handling conversions abound so finding one to suit your precise needs should be easy, especially if you approach a specialist. Mackworth Vehicle Conversion Specialists, for instance, creates bespoke panel vans, dropsides and tippers and, when load-handling expertise is called for, it turns to Penny Hydraulics.
Among other equipment, Penny Hydraulics supplies compact cranes and platform lifts. Its own range of Swing Lift cranes have maximum working loads of up to 2000kg. And its range of rear and side-mounted platform lifts offer maximum working loads of up to 500kg.
Recently, Mackworth VCS and Penny Hydraulics created a neat solution for a street lighting contractor. The contractor needed to lift cable drums on and off vans, so Penny Hydraulics engineered a unique version of its Load Lift platform to suit.
When it’s mounted inside the van’s rear doors, the Load Lift works much like a regular tail lift. It can also be mounted inside the side door – ideal for urban areas, where the length of parking spaces is at a premium and accessing rear doors can be tricky.
In both installations, the Load Lift hauls the load into the vehicle, with no need for manual handling. After use, the unit retracts completely inside the vehicle and the platform can be folded up, out of the way. This leaves a clear load space with good access and has little effect on payload capacity. Being on the inside, it’s more secure and requires less maintenance because it isn’t exposed to the elements.
For the lighting contractor, the Load Lift was fitted with a special platform. This platform incorporates a roller cradle and spindle, which support the reel and allow the cable to be wound and unwound during lighting installation and maintenance work. Result: no need for the lighting engineers to lift or handle the heavy drums by hand. Or light work for the light engineers.