"It's very easy to go into someone's building and tear up a wall or a carpet," noted Gene Lovas, a former vending operator who now, at age 61, moves equipment for other operators using a battery-powered stair climber. "You need to know what you're doing and eliminate any damage to the building."
Lovas, who operates a company called Ace Certified Installers in Anaheim, Calif., said a power jack is fine for moving equipment around in a warehouse, but not to a location. "It won't negotiate any elevations," he said. "It only goes one direction; forward or backward."
The key benefit of the battery-powered stair climber, Lovas said, is the ability to maintain balance while turning. "If you can't turn that piece of equipment, you're very limited in what you can do," he said.
He noted that one of the more important accessories introduced is the horizontal floor extender.
Some buildings require movers to be certified
Lovas said spaces in many locations have become tighter. He said some buildings today require a mover to be certified before they can operate on their premises. Some buildings require liability insurance and workers compensation insurance.
The economics of powered stair climbing equipment make sense for operators of all sizes, according to some observers. "You don't want to have a truck load of equipment to handle the eventualities," noted George Dabb, president of Ultralift Inc. In addition, room is often limited in tight spaces. "In a lot of situations, you can't send enough people (to help) because there isn't room," Dabb said.
Dabb noted versatile moving equipment is especially important for operators serving locations in high rises. His company, like others, has offered longer handles to give movers more leverage. "It's an accessory that makes particular moves easier," he said. "The moving requirements have gotten more complex," he noted. "The machines have gotten larger and the landings haven't changed." \
Dabb said mechanical equipment can still be used for easy moves.
Sanese Services Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio, recently began using the battery-powered stair climber from Steprider, due to safety benefits, noted Jim Sheets, service manager. Sheets said this unit was recommended by his company's cold drink suppliers.
The unit can be battery-activated or powered by means of an electric extension cord, Sheets said. "If the battery power does go out, you can hook it up to an extension cord and go on," he said. Another benefit of the Steprider is that it comes mostly preassembled.
The Steprider also has rubber claws that allow it to move three steps at a time; the weight is spread across three steps so it is not necessary to balance the machine on each individual step.
Craig Hunt, service manager at Tulsa, Okla.-based Imperial Companies, said his company relies mostly on mechanical equipment for moving. Besides pallet jacks and dollies, the company uses a Nortech moving cart with swivel casters to move machines through narrow, 32-inch doorways.
Once the machine is jacked up a few inches, the cart slides beneath the machine. The unit, operable by one person, can hold up to 950 pounds.
Imperial Companies also uses a mechanical system called a "Dun Tonner Truck" which consists of two dollies and ratchet straps, heavy duty casters, and a 23- by 3.75-inch toe plate. One dolly is placed at each end of the vending machine. A ratchet strap connects the two dollies.
The mover presses the foot lever down into the locking position to raise the Dun-Tonners onto the heavy duty wheels.
Liftgates continue to address needs
When it comes to moving equipment from the warehouse onto the truck, many operators insist that a liftgate is an important tool.
When choosing a liftgate, the most important thing to consider is the weight of the items that are going to be used, noted Allen Birmingham, national sales manager for Tommy Gate Co. In addition to the weight and dimensions of the machines being moved, he said the mover also has to consider the handling products that are accompanying the machines. "It's best to know what you're moving ahead of time," he said.
"A liftgate, for what it does, is not that expensive," Birmingham said. "It's not a luxury."