Distribution: Hand trucks take to task efficiency and safety
May 15, 2009
Drivers and beverage distributors alike want nothing more than to save time, which in turn, saves money. One of the best ways a company can improve efficiency is by using a hand truck or cart suitable to their needs. The correct hand truck could not only save drivers time, but also their backs, and their employers lost productivity and worker’s compensation issues.
“The trend in delivery is efficiency,” says Paul Abdou, business development manger at Magline Inc., Pinconning, Mich. “The question we hear from distributors around the country is: ‘How will this hand truck, route delivery truck or merchandising truck reduce my direct costs and improve worker safety?’”
Lighter hand trucks, such as aluminum trucks, are one change beverage distributors are making to control expenses and costs.
“Hand trucks can vary in weight up to 30 pounds, which is significant in repetitive lifting,” Abdou says. “The average beverage driver, by using a hand truck just three pounds lighter, avoids lifting nearly 14 tons per year. This saves on potential workers’ compensation costs and adds driver longevity.”
Most of the requests Valley Craft, Lake City, Minn., receives also are for aluminum trucks.
“They are lightweight and easy to handle, with pneumatic tires to roll on virtually any surface and cushion the ride â€” particularly for cargo containing glass,” says Daria Dalager, marketing manager at Valley Craft.
Quality and use
Beverage companies need to consider their particular needs when they purchase a hand truck or cart.
“Often they are looking for a durable cart and very good quality, so they last a long time and can handle rugged use on and off trucks,” Dalager says.
Many times, beverage companies make their hand truck purchase decisions based on the lowest initial price.
“Product construction should be paramount in the purchase decision,” Abdou says. “…Trying to quick fix a truck via welding or other in-house methods may create safety concerns.”
Magliner products are modular, which allows companies to replace parts if needed rather than purchasing an entire truck. The savings gained by using replacement parts typically is not calculated as part of the original purchase decision. Ultimately the truck that seems to be a value, in fact, is costing more due to its limited life-span, Abdou says.
Serviceability and the ease of obtaining parts if needed also matters, says Matthew Phillips, sales associate at Lockwood Manufacturing Co., Livonia, Mich.
Another important factor to address is the type of product that is being handled, for example, kegs vs. cases.
“This will make the difference between choosing a curved back truck or a flat back truck,” Dalager says.
In addition, sometimes beverage companies need their hand trucks to be multifunctional.
“On occasion, we have a request for a convertible hand truck that doubles as an upright truck as well as a four-wheel cart,” Phillips says.
Other factors to consider would be the capacity of the truck as well as the typical load that a driver would be transporting. Hand truck suppliers offer various options of wheels and materials for the different applications based on what the customer is going to be moving, Phillips says.
If a beverage company knows what its needs are, many hand truck suppliers can customize the truck to meet the customer’s specific application or requirement.
Hand truck and cart options
Hand truck and cart suppliers offer myriad options for the beverage industry. The newest cart for distributors from Valley Craft is the Heavy Duty Vending Cart, which is designed to handle and transport vending machines up to 1,200 pounds. The cart is all-welded, 70-inch high aluminum with a curved back and extra bracing. It features a swivel ratchet nylon strap and drop-down leg system, so the load rests at a slight angle during transport. This reduces the break-over effort by 50 percent compared to standard carts, Dalager says. The Heavy Duty Vending Cart rolls on 12-inch foam-filled tires and roller bearings.
Valley Craft also offers a line of hand trucks built to handle the demands of beverage distribution, which includes standard twin-handle beverage trucks, loop-handle utility trucks, standard utility trucks, case trucks, trayless 12-pack delivery trucks and mini-pallet handling trucks.
In addition, Valley Craft supplies platform trucks, such as the EZY-ROL lightweight, non-corrosive aluminum platform truck that also is available with two-wheel hand brakes for additional control. The company also offers the ErgoCart platform truck that moves the operator position up-front for improved visibility, it says. The ErgoCart’s H handle offers a braking system for added safety, and the handle allows the operator to move quickly in and out of the operating position to manage loads in congested areas. The six-wheel design features easy turning within the cart’s radius, and the two-gate body design allows the cart to be piled higher.
Lockwood Manufacturing offers six basic platforms of aluminum hand trucks, and throughout those platforms customers can customize the trucks to their specific needs. The hand truck options include a Loop Handle, P-Handle, Pin-Handle, Loop Handle with Straps, Twin Handle and Curved Back. The company also supplies convertible hand trucks that can be used as two-wheel hand trucks or four-wheel trucks for transporting bulkier packages.
The latest innovation from Magline is the CoolLift Delivery System. This pre-sell delivery system uses a hydraulic cart with a specialized pallet that can help reduce fleet expenses up to 25 percent and account service time up to 50 percent, the company says. This is done by eliminating driver pick time, and allowing the driver to check up to 50 cases at a time without down-stacking product. The CoolLift Delivery System also reduces or eliminates trucks, and increases fleet flexibility because the trailers can accommodate hybrid deliveries for bulk and convenience store locations. In regard to driver safety, the delivery system eliminates overhead lifting, climbing and multiple handling of product required on bay truck deliveries.
Magliner hand trucks also have been improved and feature a new rounded corner side rail for a more comfortable gripping surface for the driver, which also reduces the potential for load damage. The hand trucks’ frames now offer 50 percent thicker plating to reduce downtime needed to change worn out components, the company says. In addition, Magline introduced the new Magliner Red Bearing, a premium wheel bearing lasting up to 17 times longer than the industry standard bearing, the company says. Magliner Red Bearings do not require grease, which eliminates downtime for maintenance.
The company also released the Magliner Safety Light Kit that aims to improve delivery safety, and is compatible with most hand trucks and carts. With the recommended mounting of two safety light kits per truck, the safety lights help identify the hand truck location from any angle, even fully loaded. The intent is to reduce potential injury to the driver or pedestrian by drawing attention to the hand truck location, the company says. BI