CMF Installations: VW Crafter loader crane conversion enables quicker & safer deliveries
CMF Installations work as an electrical repairs sub-contractor for AIR-serv - a leading manufacturer and supplier of ancillary forecourt equipment, including air machines, jet washes and vacuum units. Air-Serv is a company that goes from strength to strength - to date they’ve supplied 65000 units throughout Europe and supporting this, they now have over 50 service engineers nationwide. When Air-serv recently invested in market-leading lifting equipment from Penny Hydraulics Ltd for their new fleet of VW Crafter commercial vehicles, it wasn’t long before CMF followed suit.
The story began as it always does – with a lifting dilemma! Air-serv needed to manually move forecourt equipment on and off fleet vans for delivery or maintenance purposes on a regular basis and this was proving to be heavy and back-breaking work. Their heaviest units weighed almost 500kg and lifting and lowering items between the van and ground level without any specialist lifting equipment required potentially dangerous levels of manual handling for operatives. Air-serv tackled the issue head on by investing in high-quality loader cranes from Penny Hydraulics Ltd to take the hard work out of this heavy lifting. As a result, they soon started to see an improvement in employee safety, as well as a welcome boost in productivity. Needing to carry out the same day to day handling tasks as Air-serv in their work, CMF Installations were quick to see the benefits the loader cranes were bringing to Air-serv and soon contacted Penny Hydraulics to supply and install an identical loader crane of their own for their new VW Crafter van.
No stranger to conversion of VW vans, Penny Hydraulics are part of a network of independent, Recognised VW Converters – a network which offers almost limitless conversion potential for customers commercial vehicles.
“Knowing that Penny Hydraulics are part of the prestigious VW converter network, CMF are assured that their high standards in terms of warranty, quality control, after-sales and product liability are met,” said Penny Hydraulics Sales Director, Richard Short. “Importantly, they’re also given the confidence that only experienced and suitably qualified craftsmen will be working on their vehicles.”
Becoming a Recognised Converter is no mean feat - currently Penny Hydraulics are the only recognised VW Converter for lifting equipment.
“All Recognised Converters must undergo a rigorous audit to ensure compliance with VW Commercial and Technical Standards,” said Richard. “The audits cover conversion design to vehicle build, delivery though to in life support - they’re really in depth to make sure that each customers vehicle lives up to the exacting standards customers expect from a Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle.”
Unlike most customers, CMF came to Penny Hydraulics already knowing exactly what crane they wanted – exactly the same as supplied Air-serv! Since the vehicle specifications were also identical, Penny’s were able to get the order processed immediately skipping to specification process. Like Air-serv, CMF wanted an FV500 crane for their Crafter. The FV500 is a unique product in the lifting equipment market - the van crane was in fact the first fully hydraulic 500kg capacity vehicle mounted crane ever designed and manufactured by Penny Hydraulics. This ever-popular model of crane incorporates hydraulic slew, boom raise, lower and extension for controlled, precise and safe handling.
“Hydraulic operation is increasingly popular as it reduces the need for the operator to climb onto the vehicle bed to position loads,” said Penny Hydraulics Area Sales Manager, David Jones. “The FV500 can be operated entirely at ground level and this eliminates any unnecessary working at height – that’s really important as this reduces any unnecessary working from height. The installation of one of our cranes is therefore a great step towards compliance with the Work at Height Regulations 2005.”
Designed for a wide range of load handling applications including service, engineering and deliveries, the FV500 is so lightweight and compact that it is suitable for most van applications.
“The FV500 was in fact the first fully-hydraulic vehicle mounted crane available in the 500kg performance class,” said David. “The crane’s designed and built with durability and reliability very much in mind making it the favourite choice for some of the largest blue-chip companies both in the UK and overseas.”
Product weight is always a key consideration for an organisation when choosing the right crane for their fleet. It is essential that cranes are installed with minimal impact on the overall vehicle weight to leave maximum carrying capacity, allowing optimum operational flexibility and productivity.
“Remaining within the overall weight and carrying capacity limits is essential – this should always be at the forefront of a buyer’s mind in any crane purchase,” said David. “Although a low crane weight is a benefit for all types of vehicle, it is especially useful for those in the 3.5t and 7.5t classes where remaining within the overall weight and carrying capacity limits is always a major concern.”
Having a dedicated team of vehicle mounted lifting equipment design engineers in house, Penny’s engineers have used advanced CAD and finite element analysis tools to reduce weight throughout their crane range wherever possible through optimised design and use of alternative materials.
“It’s a tricky business as any changes we make to crane design must not negatively impact crane performance or safety,” said David. “Thanks to our in-house team of designers and over 40 years’ experience, we boast crane structures that are high strength and durable yet lightweight, helping to keep vehicle emissions low, maximising our customers fuel economy and payload on their fleets.”
What’s more, in addition to a low product weight of just 95kg for the crane section, the FV500 crane has an exceptionally compact design - an integral oil tank & motor pump unit maximises load space in the van allowing the engineers to carry all their required equipment on board too.
Another important design feature, a 500kg capacity hoist comes as standard with the FV500. The winch is from Penny Hydraulics’ own range of industrial winches and hoists, PH Winches.
“The high-speed hoist allows vertical below-ground handling, making it a super-flexible load handling tool – it’s the ideal solution for delivery applications, local authorities, highways and utilities too,” explains David. “It really is a tried and tested hoist – we’ve been using this robust design on our range of cranes for almost 40 years which we think says it all!”
When it comes to safety, the FV500 comes with a range of safety features, including built-in overload protection and stabiliser legs to guarantee the highest levels of safety for the operator. Powered by the vehicle battery in 12V or 24V, the cranes also come with important protection for the battery too.
The cranes were designed, manufactured and installed at Penny Hydraulics’ purpose-built plant in Derbyshire within just 6 weeks. Following installation, maintenance and training options were then considered. In England it is a legal requirement under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) for lifting equipment to have a Thorough Examination and test by a competent person before it is put into service and at regular specified intervals during its life. For peace of mind that the cranes are maintained and safe for use, CMF may now choose to utilise Penny Hydraulics Service Division to ensure the equipment continues to be Thoroughly Examined in accordance with LOLER at regular intervals throughout its life by Penny’s dedicated nationwide network of specialist crane engineers.
In addition to service and maintenance requirements, the latest health and safety legislation requires that all employers ensure that all employees using or supervising the use of work equipment have received adequate training in method, risk and precautions associated with that equipment too.
“With regards to operator training on the cranes, we always suggest an ALLMI accredited course, said David. “ALLMI is the Association of Lorry Loader Manufacturers & Importers - it’s the UK’s only Trade Association exclusively dedicated to companies involved in the manufacture, importation, servicing, testing and use of lorry loaders, meaning ALLMI accredited training is one of the best steps that employers can take to help ensure crane operators are both competent and confident using the equipment.
Importantly, the new cranes will play a vital part in helping CMF provide duty of care to their employees. By providing their staff with work equipment that is fit for purpose, by adequately maintaining it so that it continues to be safe throughout its life, and by training their operatives in the safe operation of the cranes, CMF are removing any unnecessary and potentially dangerous manual handling of equipment and plant on and off their new van.
“By investing time and money in lifting equipment for their new fleet vehicle, CMF are taking proactive steps towards compliance with Manual Handling Operations Regulations,” said David.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, as amended in 2002 apply to a wide range of manual handling activities, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying and outline what steps employers may need to take to protect employees from the risk of injury through manual handling tasks in the workplace.
“The Regulations outline the need to avoid the need for hazardous manual handling, ‘so far as is reasonably practicable,’” said David. “The introduction of mechanical handling aids is therefore a vital step in gaining compliance.”