Automotive technicians – who must work deep under the hood or chassis of cars and trucks with little natural light – can’t fix what they can’t see. That’s why most technicians need several flashlights on their belts or nearby in their toolboxes. Helping your customers build an arsenal of lights so they will have the right tool for every job can increase your sales and their productivity by speeding diagnosis and repair time.
Technology advances create a wide range of choices
With continuing advances in lighting technology, auto technicians today have a range of high-performance flashlights available – from light-weight, hand-held rechargeable lights that deliver bright light wherever it’s needed to specialized lights such as headlamps when technicians need both hands for a specific task.
One of the first considerations in recommending a light is the choice between rechargeable or disposable battery flashlights. Developments such as the lithium ion battery have reached new benchmarks in rechargeability, which has led to flashlights’ reduced size and weight. Those with lithium batteries can be as much as 50% lighter than their rechargeable nickel-cadmium predecessors, and tend to burn brighter than those that use disposable batteries.
Another benefit of rechargeable lights is savings. While their initial purchase price is generally higher than lights powered with disposable batteries, the lifetime savings can be significant because they may be able to be recharged 1,000 times. Studies have found that rechargeable nickel-cadmium flashlights provide an average savings of at least $300 in battery costs.
Disposable battery lights, on the other hand, offer generally longer runtimes for a given bulb power, making them a good choice for all-purpose work, particularly on long jobs. Under frequent usage, disposable batteries such as alkaline will only last for about two weeks, although they have an excellent storage life of seven to 10 years. Disposable battery lights, while not as bright as rechargeables, typically are lower in initial purchase price.
Durability is essential
Durability is especially important. It’s not unusual for flashlights to be knocked around or dropped to the shop floor, which generally means the next home is the trash bin.
Today, flashlights with non-conductive polymer housings or machined aluminum casings are tough enough to withstand this type of daily abuse, extending life and improving technician productivity. Lights that feature a non-conductive polymer casing, besides being lightweight and virtually indestructible, also protect the user from electric shock.
Flashlights equipped with LED (light emitting diodes) bulbs are long-lasting, durable and virtually unbreakable. In addition, many flashlight lenses today are made of borosilicate, which offers good shock resistance while others are made from polycarbonate, a clear, tough, shatterproof and virtually unbreakable material.
The right light for every task
When the technician needs both hands and illumination to get the job done, a hands-free headlight fits the bill. Professional grade headlamps can be worn on the head, giving the technician hands-free operation. Some models of the traditional penlight have been redesigned to include a bendable, extendable cable that also enables the technician to see in even the tightest spots.
Some high-performance flashlights combine LED lights, which are notable for their longevity of up to 100,000 hours and are excellent for close work, with xenon incandescent bulbs, known for their high performance and ability to light long distances. These versatile lights frequently weigh less than a pound and are small enough to carry in a pocket or on a belt.
Other small lights give technicians the ability to spot leaks in hard-to-reach areas under the hood or dashboard where other light detection tools can’t reach. The ultraviolet lights illuminate fluorescent dyes.
Closing the sale
Educating your customers that having the right mix of high-quality flashlights is as essential to their success as having multiple wrenches or other tools will go a long way towards helping your business move more lights. That process begins by understanding the applications and the conditions where the flashlights will be used, which will help you in recommending the right lights for your customers’ tasks every time.
Eric Mills is the National Director of Sales – Automotive Division for Streamlight Inc. For more information on the company and its products, please call Streamlight at 800-523-7488 or visit www.streamlight.com.