When it comes to raising sales, don’t overlook lifting equipment as an opportunity – especially as there is something for every shop in this category. Whether it’s vehicle lifts (best left to brochure selling unless your truck is ginormous), or floor jacks, jack stands, bottle jacks and equipment jacks and stands (most of which could have a spot on the truck), every shop needs something you can carry.
“Larger pieces of lifting equipment can take up a lot of space on a truck and are probably best sold out of a catalog,” said Eric Adamson, OTC product manager for lifting equipment, hydraulics and heavy duty tools.
“However, there are a number of common lifting equipment items that can fit easily on a truck, and are very easy to demonstrate to potential customers,” including 2- and 3-ton service jacks, 3- to 6-ton jack stands, car dollies and more, he said.
Bob Fox, Sunex lifting market manager, said it’s important for distributors to carry the right lifting products. “In order of priority: a floor service jack rated between 2- and 3-1/2-ton capacity, a pair of jack stands rated equal to, or greater than, the floor service jack being used, a 12-ton capacity standard height bottle jack and a 20-ton capacity standard height bottle jack.”
SAFETY AND SPEED
Once you’ve decided which equipment to carry, it’s time to promote the critical features of each. Safety is always a key point when considering lifting equipment.
“The most important thing to consider when purchasing any piece of equipment for the shop is the technician’s personal safety,” said Adamson. “While no one can guarantee that a product will never fail, professionals should always ensure that the lifting equipment they purchase has been tested to the ASME/PALD standard. This represents a minimum design standard and provides assurance that the equipment item in question has been designed and tested to an industry-accepted performance standard.”
After safety, the key feature for floor jacks right now is in lifting heights and speed. Fox said that different lifting speeds are obtained through varied hydraulic designs.
“The speed should include the required time to raise the jack’s lifting saddle to the load and then the time to actually lift the load,” Fox said. “The most effective speed feature is the hydraulic system that includes dual pump pistons. Two pistons function quickly to raise the jack’s lifting saddle to the load. Once the saddle makes contact with the load, only one piston functions to lift the load.”
Fox added that “ease of jack maneuverability around the shop, under the vehicle and during the lifting and lowering procedures,” will help sway customers.
“Another factor to consider is minimum lifting height,” said Adamson. “A common request we hear is for lower lifting heights to enable technicians to reach the lifting points on smaller and modified cars that have minimal clearance for the floor jack.”
Recent improvements in floor jacks include new wheels, said Adamson.
“At OTC, we’ve begun to move away from cast wheels toward Polyamide wheels,” he said. “They are tensile rather than brittle and perform far better than cast wheels under usual impact and bending stresses. Best of all, they will not damage garage floors, do not rust and are very quiet in operation.”
Bottle jacks are a bit different of a sell, according to both Fox and Adamson, as it can be hard to tell a higher quality bottle jack from lower quality, just on looks.
“Once again, the first thing to consider is whether or not the bottle jack meets basic ASME/PALD standards,” Adamson said. “When it comes to key features though, a bottle jack is a pretty basic piece of lifting equipment. It is very difficult to differentiate them based on external features alone. Most bottle jacks look pretty similar when set side by side.”
“Bottle jacks are the simplest form of self-contained hydraulic systems, so there are not many key features that differ,” Fox added. “In some cases, the hydraulic ram travel in the jack is not long enough for the application. It is advantageous to have bottle jacks with extension screws in their rams in order to make the most effective use of the hydraulic ram stroke.”
“Some bottle jacks do not pump up as fast as other manufacturer’s jacks due to using a smaller diameter and shorter stroke pump piston,” Fox said. “Lower-cost bottle jacks often provide a smaller base, thus limiting the stability of the jack under load.”
“Technicians should always ask themselves how well the bottle jack will perform over time,” Adamson said. That means checking into company warranties and how well a company backs their product.
TAKING A STAND
Capacity, height and type of restraint are the key features for jack stands.
“The tech should make sure the stand’s capacity and support heights are adequate for their applications,” Fox said. “Most stands requiring higher lift heights include the pin-type design. The tech should make sure there is not too much free play between the stand’s support column and its base, and the locating pin should be secured to the stand’s base by an adequate tether or chain to prevent loss.
“The jack’s base should fit flat on the floor.”
“Technicians will be most concerned about quality of construction, lifting range and whether the stand uses a ratcheting lock or a safety pin,” Adamson agreed. “Most techs will prefer the ratcheting style of stand to a pin-locked stand because they can set the stand with one hand rather than two.”
Fox said that, with all lifting equipment, techs should be careful not to use equipment beyond its rated capacity. As a distributor, that’s an area where knowing your customer and the needs of his shop will come in handy to get them the right equipment.
“Not all lifting devices are required to include an overload system which prevents the device from being used beyond its rated capacity,” Fox said. “When selecting a lifting device it is better to choose a device with a rated capacity higher than the anticipated load to be lifted. Doing so will eliminate the need to use the device beyond its rated capacity and therefore increase the service life of the device.”
On the horizon, Adamson said the move to lighter and stronger equipment is key as techs want it to be more versatile.
“We are seeing an increasing demand for lighter, more portable equipment that can be brought to the point of service in the field, rather than bringing the vehicle to the technician. This move to lighter equipment has also increased the use of newer materials that are stronger than traditional steel components but are also much lighter than steel,” he said.
When you want to give sales a lift, consider your customers’ individual needs for capacity, safety and more with shop floor lift equipment.