Mobile column lifts have traditionally been a way garages can avoid the expense of digging a pit in a workshop and provide a more flexible lifting option.
One company at the forefront of innovation in the sector is Halesowen-based TotalKare which unveiled three new products at the Commercial Vehicle Show in April, including its wash bay mobile column lift, brake tester and a light commercial four-post fixed lift. The four-post fixed lift can lift up to 6,500kg, extending the company’s heavy-duty four-post lift offering that ranges up to 33,000kg in capacity.
It complements TotalKare’s two-post lift, designed for use with long wheel base vans, such as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the Volkswagen Crafter and the Iveco Daily. With regards to the wash bay mobile column lift, David Hall, Managing Director of TotalKare said they are available in four, six and eight column configurations, and have been specially designed to ensure many years of trouble-free use.
He explained: “We have applied our experience and knowledge to the details of the design, such as a galvanised structure and sealed bearings, to give long term protection from water so that the lifts are ideal for outside use. “They also have adjustable forks to ensure maximum flexibility in the range of vehicles that can be lifted.
“This is something many of our customers have asked us for in recent years and we’re excited to bring a wash bay-suitable mobile column lift solution to market.” For the company, which has been in operation for 35 years, the new brake tester range represents the first time the business has introduced non-lifting products to its portfolio. Available as mobile or in-ground options, the brake tester is technically advanced and amongst the strongest and most reliable brake testing systems currently available.
It is hot galvanised to improve durability and features a comprehensive load simulation system and app technology so that data and subsequent analysis can be completed on a smart phone or tablet. The TotalKare brake tester can also be adapted to test a range of vehicles, from small light vans and city trucks with short wheelbases to larger commercial vehicles.
As part of its drive to develop in this sector, TotalKare recently recruited Graham Simmons, who has decades of experience servicing and maintaining brake testers, as product specialist, responsible for driving the firm’s in-ground and mobile brake tester sales. He will also be responsible for growing the team and passing his knowledge to the firm’s fleet of service engineers. Hall said: “The introduction of the brake tester range is a direct response to frequent requests from customers, who want to buy these items from a workshop equipment partner it knows and trusts.”
TotalKare recently launched an online training platform, which can be used by workshop managers, health and safety managers and HR professionals and is designed to reduce the time engineers need to be out of the workshop. Courses can be accessed via a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop device meaning they can be started and finished in a timescale that suits both the business and the employee. There are video tutorials, instructional guides and multiple-choice test questions and the courses take individuals through two core modules (Rules and Regulations and Safe Use of Ancillary Equipment) before further modules specific to the models of mobile column lift in use in the workshop.
Some of the areas covered include legislation, pre-use safety checks, lift controls, floor stability, floor obstructions, height clearance and ancillary equipment. Steve Braund, TotalKare Marketing Manager, said the platform means individuals can access training at their leisure wherever they have an internet connection. “Candidates can complete the training at a time to suit them, and their progress is saved after each module which means they can even do it in stages if preferred”, he added.
“Administrator access provides a dashboard view showing the real-time progress of all operatives set up on the training, so workshop managers can quickly understand who has completed the training and who is yet to do so – ideal for demonstrating compliance.” Once successfully passed, the candidate will receive a driving license-style card that lasts for three years and informs employers they are competent to work on mobile lifts. More than 500 users have now completed the training, which is flexible and reduces downtime caused by staff no longer being trained as a group.
NEW MANAGEMENT TEAM
Last year TotalKare was purchased in an (MBO) by a team led by Hall, existing chairman Mike Lord and fellow directors James Radford and Peter Geobey. Following the change, the company has been focusing on increasing its market share with its two and four-post fixed lifts, as well as its online training. Hall said: “We have a fantastic reputation in the industry, not just for the quality of our products but for the high level of customer service and support we offer. “Launching the three new products will give us a great focal point and the perfect launchpad to embark on our ambitious expansion plans.”
Many of the best known dealer groups in the UK are TotalKare customers. Mercedes-Benz van dealership S&B Commercials recently expanded workshop capacity at its new van centre in West Thurrock by installing a TotalKare light commercial four-post lift, ideal for a busy workshop involved in lifting long wheel base vans and requiring a permanent lifting position. The lift gives the dealer the flexibility to carry out both service and quality control checks. The four post lift also future-proofs the dealer with the option of utilising the equipment for MOT testing if required.
Also, Kent-based DAF dealership Channel Commercials recently acquired a heavy-duty TotalKare four-post lift for its Sevenoaks workshop. For the company, the benefits of installing a TotalKare four post lift were preferred to the costs and health and safety considerations of digging an expensive pit. Hall concluded: “It’s about much more than just selling a specific set of lifts. “It’s about the complete customer experience from their first contract through to initial site assessment, the training we provide and our best-in-class servicing and maintenance packages.”