CASE STUDY: LOAD HANDLING AT EURO CAR PARTS
HOW WE DEVELOPED VANMATE
M J Products has a proven track record of designing and manufacturing lightweight lifting and handling solutions for major retailers and distributers.
During a roll out demonstration of a new tote handling solution at Euro Car Parts, our director, Mark Jackson, noticed another piece of equipment for lifting oil drums in and out of a large van. It was a very elaborate crane system bolted to the floor of the van.
On enquiry it became clear that the crane was bulky, heavy, costly and permanent. Most importantly, another piece of equipment was needed to subsequently move the drum to and from the van.
Immediately a past prototype product we started to develop came to mind…
“We can offer a better solution for that”, said Mark Jackson, “I thought you might Jackson”, said the Customer.
The challenge was to make a drum handling solution capable of transferring drums to and from a van, and more importantly, for the solution to be lightweight and portable enough, so that you can take it with you.
Our research and development looked at lightening parts without comprising structure, by using lighter materials and enhancing the overall design.
An example is our patented duopump lifting system in the heart of every lifter. Design improvements and materials changes reduced the pump system from 8.5kg to just 4.5kg in weight.
This was fundamental in our ambition to achieve our overall weight target of 15kg so that the product can be easily handled.
We considered creating a fold-up device, however, this meant a higher weight and the product would be bulky and cumbersome.
Instead we opted for a modular design with 3 distinct parts:
• First, a trolley, with wheels to allow movement of goods.
• Second, the main lifting mast that enables goods to be raised from the ground to above the floor of a van. The mast is structurally capable of lifting 250kg and locks safely into the trolley.
• Lastly, an attachment. In this case an attachment for gripping and securing 205l metal and plastic drums.
With these three separate core elements, VanMate can be configured to handle a whole variety of products.
The product prototypes were tested in operational branches of Euro Car Parts for three months.
During that time a number improvements were made based on essential feedback from users.
One particular challenge that presented itself during the trial was getting loaded drums to the bulkhead of the van with minimal handling.
We realised that VanMate needed a partner to do this. It needed to be moveable – then once moved it needed to be secured.
The solution needed to be lightweight and cost effective.
Along came ‘VanMate Slider’, a unique patented design that allows a user to slide a load from the doorway either up to the bulkhead on rear entry or into the centre of the floor on side door loading.
COMPLETING THE SOLUTION
The trial was a complete success and Euro Car Parts are now using our VanMate systems across its UK and Republic of Ireland branch network.
The modular design of VanMate additionally allows Euro Car Parts to safely lift engines and reconditioned gear boxes in and out of their vehicles.
The unique modular design of VanMate means it fits an array of attachments and trolley options to meet your needs.
VanMate is built with a lightweight modular system which can be quickly disassembled and can lift loads up to 250kg and to 800mm high.
When combined with the VanMate Slider System, it allows the loading and transfer of goods fully into the van up to the bulk head.
With VanMate there is no need for separate handling equipment at your customers location as VanMate is fully portable.
The lightweight modular systems of VanMate are protected under patent.
See the feature in Essential Fleet Manager – Nov/Dec 2020