By Roger Brown
Sussex-based Hope Technical Developments was founded in 1962 by businessman Fred Hope who, after the Second World War, started a haulage operation running a fleet of AEC trucks.
Hope discovered there was a serious safety issue with the trucks in that under stress braking conditions they could jack knife dangerously causing potential injury to the driver, other road users and damage to the goods being carried. To address the problem he created the first anti jack knife device for articulated trucks, which ended up being produced for more than 30 years.
Also, in 1984, in response to an amendment to the vehicle construction and use regulations to include the fitment of rear under run protection on all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, the firm produced the very first UK approved under run bumper, the Hope Safe-T-Bar which is still being used today.
The still family-run company, based at modern premises in Littlehampton, is now run by his son, managing director, John Hope. “We provide a wide range of van and commercial vehicle safety equipment and safety is always top of the list of our priorities”, he said. “At our manufacturing site and headquarters we have a team of technical, design and manufacturing experts who assemble, test, powder coat and finish the products to make sure they are of the highest quality.”
Hope provides a wide selection of van and commercial vehicle safety equipment, including a complete range of Hope Safe-T-Bars and Safe-T-Steps for light commercial vehicles (LCVs) that protect vehicles and help provide safe, easy access for drivers. Hope Scrutineer is another product designed to check HGV trailer diagnostics quickly and accurately without the use of a trailer.
There is also the Breaker Docker product which is a manual handling aid used by utility workers, who need to lift and stow their breaker equipment safely back into the van. It is mounted in the near side rear of the van in a vertical position and can be deployed by leveraging the handle horizontally via a gas ram arm which reveals the cradle in which the breaker is stowed. The Breaker Docker enables the breaker tool to be stowed easily and accurately by one man without unsafe lifting into the van.
HOPE TOOL LIFT
A key product the company markets is the Hope Tool Lift which can lift loads of up to 125kg easily, safely and accurately, whether loading or unloading tools, via the side doors of the majority of leading panel van makes and models. According to Hope, the Tool Lift helps protect workers from injury and vans from damage by facilitating lifting operations that can be carefully controlled at every stage by one operator.
Hope said: “The Tool Lift system aids lifting, loading and unloading, whilst helping operatives to overcome manual handling difficulties. “It will help protect a van from damage during the loading and unloading of heavy cargo. Operations can be completed smoothly and simply with full control of the cargo possible even with a single worker or driver handling proceedings.
“The product is a safe and simple way to protect and reduce the risk to operatives, tools and van as you load and unload heavy equipment. Built-in safety features include a lockable swing arm and automatic winch release brake to ensure that the cargo is protected at all times during transfers.”
The Tool Lift can be mounted in the side opening of Ford Transit or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans with minimal modifications, and takes up very little space when stored away. It is installed using a base plate secured by bolts through the floor whilst the cross beam is secured using existing bulkhead mountings.
The Tool Lift system is lightweight and according to Hope will have minimal impact on the vehicle’s payload. He added: “The Tool Lift helps businesses comply with the latest health and safety regulations on manual handling and lifting, protecting employees in the field and companies from liability claims. It uses a simple winding winch mechanism that can be operated by a solo delivery driver, allowing firms to save money on manpower with every large load delivery.
“Features include a smooth running winch with spur gearing that provides high efficiency, and an integrated automatic load pressure brake to prevent the unintentional lowering of the load.” The Hope Tool Lift is CE certified – a certification mark that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area – and built to withstand the demands of daily use.
Also, it is powder coated to stay looking smart. The company also provides inspection, servicing, testing and examination of the Tool Lift so customers can keep the product in excellent working order. Hope said: “The inspection offers a visual check of its condition to identify any potential safety hazards and users must also plan regular inspections of the Tool Lift based on its operational uses. Our service covers general maintenance, such as checking mechanical parts and fixings, carrying out necessary repairs or replacement of damaged or worn parts.”
Experts at the company also undertake weight tests to assess the performance of the Hope Tool Lift further and the lift is checked under controlled conditions to ensure that it is capable of safely lifting the load that it is designed to hold. Finally, thorough examinations are carried out at various stages during the life of the equipment, including when a customer services a Tool Lift for the first time or when there have been exceptional circumstances that may have affected its safety, for example if the lift has been involved in an accident.
Another instance where an examination could take place is when a Tool Lift is being removed from one van and installed in another. Hope said: “This examination includes an in-depth investigation of external and internal components. The results of the examination must be fully documented and kept available for inspection; should the examination uncover any dangerous defect in the equipment, it must not be used until the problem is rectified.”