Well equipped07 June 2011

Despite the industry still enduring tough times, investment in workshop equipment could prove a cost-effective measure for many operators. John Challen looks at the latest products on the market

There is no denying that the recent global recession caused many fleet operators to think twice about new machinery and tooling for their workshops. However, months later and, as the market starts to recover, companies are looking at investing once again.

Snap-on Diagnostics is one of many company looking to boost sales though recent product debuts. First up is the company's first commercial truck diagnostics tool, launched under the Sun brand. Designed for commercial vehicles, the hand-held tool is a more robust version of the company's diagnostic products that are used in the automotive market. "The diagnostics tool will be great for the independent market, fleets, bus and coach companies and official dealers," reckons Mark Ost, Snap-on Diagnostics UK sales director. "We have been asked for some time to create a commercial vehicle diagnostics tool with all these features, and we are fulfilling a market need."

Also falling under the Sun banner is the KoolKare HD air conditioning recycling centre, which is specifically designed for servicing the systems used in commercial, and passenger service, vehicles. The unit has a 40-litre recycling tank, a 21cc recovery compressor and a vacuum pump that flows at 170 litres per minute when filling the vehicle. Its gear pump handles 1kg per minute of refrigerant and 6m service hoses are conveniently located on the rear. Its fully automatic cycle has automatic leak check during vacuum and automatic discharge of non-condensables, automatic oil replacement and optional automatic dye injection.

For those looking for a major overhaul of their facilities, Crypton, a specialist in MoT and diagnostic equipment, has widened its ATL range. The expansion is being led by the ATL Pit Package, which allows operators to purchase a Crypton test lane with either scissor or four-post lift, or a pit. Use can be made of an existing pit or a new one created providing choice for customers who prefer pits to lifts. With the play detector only fitted to one side of the pit, the amount of groundwork a workshop would require in the installation phase would be greatly reduced. The play detector and turntables are recessed on the sides of the pit and the jacking beam is straddled across the pit to take the place of the lift. To complete the ATL requirement, the Crypton pit package includes brake tester, headlamp aligners, mirrors, brake pedal depressor and control centre with integrated emission test equipment if required.

Penny for your thoughts
For a real-life example of investment in new machinery, look no further than Aberdeen-based Gray Forklift services. It has installed a 150-tonne capacity Penny Hydraulics static tyre press in order to shorten response times and broaden its service capabilities for customers throughout northern Scotland. The new tyre press will allow the company to replace solid tyres on rims up to 24in in diameter, used on the largest forklift trucks, so that it can offer a same day swap-in service using its own resources rather than relying on third parties.

"Customers cannot always wait the whole day for a set of replacement solids," says Keith Robertson, operations manager at Gray Forklift Services. "With this new press we can offer a better service to our customers with faster response."

The tyre press is floor-mounted which avoided the need for a floor pit. Although a pit would have allowed some of the mechanism to be mounted below floor level, making it easier to place and retrieve wheels and tyres, it was not an issue in this particular installation. Instead, because the various items are so large and heavy, service engineers use a lift truck with a special attachment to handles rims, tyres and assembled wheels on and off the press.

Light launch
For vans and LCVs, there are a number of product introductions to comply with upcoming legislations. Boston Garage Equipment has launched two VOSA-approved models of trailer wiring testers, to meet the new regulation for all MoT premises to acquire this equipment before the end of this year. For EU-13 pin socket testing, Boston has produced its model BTT-110 which is the lower cost product to comply with the minimum specification, plus power check, reverse and ignition functions. A premium version (BT-111) has added 7-pin test capability, which covers the majority of sockets currently in the market.

For tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS)-equipped vehicles, of which there are growing numbers, the OmiCheck Service from Omitec carries the TPMS function and enables registration or re-registration of tyre pressure monitoring valves on the vehicle ECU's. The monitoring application is designed to register a new valve or re-register the location of a wheel should it be moved from front to rear and detect when there is a tyre pressure monitoring system fault or when the valve itself needs replacing.

OmiCheck Service can also be used to monitor and service a wide variety of systems, such as ABS, airbags, climate control. For electronic parking brakes (EPB), this application has been designed to release the brake callipers whilst replacing brake pads on selected vehicles with electronic handbrakes.

Operators lifted by scrappage idea and new products

Need an extra incentive to invest in new equipment? Stertil Koni could have the answer, because the mobile column lifts specialist has introduced a 'no quibble' commercial vehicle lift scrappage scheme.

General manager Tony Edge says the scheme is designed to encourage users to replace older commercial vehicle lifting equipment by offering a minimum £3,000 part exchange against a new set of lifts.

The allowance covers all part-exchanges of commercial vehicle lifts, regardless of make, age or condition, when purchasing a model from Stertil Koni cabled (ST1082S) or wireless (ST1082FWF) hydraulic mobile column lifts.

Edge maintains that the expected boost to sales is just part of the justification. "We're also taking the opportunity to extend our environmental responsibilities by making it easier for users of old, inefficient and non-green equipment to upgrade to brand new, clean, efficient and environmentally-friendly products," he insists.

Elsewhere garage lift specialist Codi International has introduced a range of replacement vehicle lift pads, designed to offer a greater level of safety in the workshop, while, at the same time, saving operators some cash. There are 60 different types of pad, according to the company, covering fitment to all the well-known lifts. Available with a next-day delivery package, the pad price starts at £6.25.

The company has also announced it is distributing the Italian range of Werther lifts. The range offered by Codi complements the existing range of Consul lifts that the company has imported for many years, and features the entry level 3.2-tonne 2-post Werther 2251 hydraulic lift. This model, says Codi, is competitively priced and easy to install and features smoother operation and lower maintenance costs. A single phase version is also available if required.

John Challen

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Related Companies
Boston Garage Equipment
Continental Automotive Trading UK Ltd
Penny Hydraulics Ltd
Snap-On Diagnostics
Stertil Koni Ltd

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