The RER Innovative Product Award was established in 2003 to honor excellence in new product development in the equipment rental industry. The award showcases the most innovative products introduced between August 1, 2004 and July 31, 2005.
First, 10,800 randomly selected RER readers were asked to narrow the pool of 44 entries down to one finalist in each of 12 categories. Nine hundred readers were polled in each category. Voter results in the Concrete Equipment category resulted in a tie, which left a total of 13 products that competed in the final round of judging.
Then, another 1,300 randomly selected RER readers were asked to choose the product they felt was most innovative in respect to their rental business. This year the reader's choice resulted in a tie, which left the RER editorial staff with the responsibility of casting the deciding vote. Again, the outcome resulted in a tie. Clearly, both products are innovative and deserving of this prestigious reader's choice award, so, in this year of ties, we honor two products with the grand award.
Thanks to all of the companies who entered products in this year's Innovative Product Award competition. All non-winning entries will be featured in the January and February issues of RER. Category finalists are featured in the following pages.
Most new inventions are born from a desire to save time and/or labor on an everyday task, and Steve's Hitch is no different. What is different about Steve's Hitch is that it was conceptualized and invented by a 19-year-old high school student.
Steven Gerres was a senior in high school in the spring of 2001 and he worked part-time at the Belle Plaine (Minnesota) Cooperative as part of a work program. His job was to move anhydrous tanks, fill them and then park them for customer pick-up or delivery. Gerres found himself constantly getting in and out of the truck or on and off of the tractor, while trying to provide the most efficient customer service possible. His father, Ronald (Fran) Gerres, works full-time at the cooperative as shop manager. One evening at dinner, Steve asked Fran if it would be possible to build a hydraulically operated attachment for the skid steer so that he did not have to get in and out of the truck or tractor to hook up to the equipment.
With support from his parents, Fran and Diane, who depleted their savings and borrowed money against their home, Steven and Fran built the first Steve's Hitch, refined it and then patented it in 2003. The product was first introduced to the market in October 2004 and Diane, who describes herself as secretary, treasurer, office manager, marketer, sales and bookkeeper, began marketing the hitch in 2005.
What makes Steve's Hitch innovative, Diane says, is its hydraulic operation. “The operator never has to leave the skid steer to hook up to the equipment. Also, one hitch has the capability to move five different styles of hitches.” Those five hitch styles are coupler/ball, fifth wheel, gooseneck, clevis/tongue and pintle.
The hitch's design also helps prevent accidents, back injuries, pinched fingers and falls from climbing on and off of the equipment. “Many customers put holes in their forklifts to add a ball to move around their equipment, which OSHA disapproves of because it is very unsafe and has caused many accidents,” Diane says.
“Steve's Hitch safely navigates the equipment around your yard/shed,” says Diane. “Because of the maneuverability and visibility the operator is able to park equipment into tight spots, improving their space utilization.”
Since its introduction, many customers who own a Steve's Hitch have called it a great investment. Ed Wadley, owner and president of Taylor's Rental Equipment Co. in Fort Worth, Texas, is reaping the benefits of his Steve's Hitch. “I purchased a Steve's Hitch at the 2005 ARA show and this is one of the best investments that I have made,” Wadley says. “I recommend Steve's Hitch to all rental companies that have a lot of equipment to move. We use Steve's Hitch numerous times each and every day. Once you have this hitch, you will wonder how you ever did your job without it.”
After graduating from high school in 2001, Steven went to work for a road construction company before returning to work full time at the Belle Plaine Cooperative. He recently got engaged and plans to get married in June 2006. The Gerres plan to introduce a Steve's Hitch specifically designed for the three-point tractor in the future.
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Continued strengthening of environmental regulations in the United States has increased the popularity of wheelwash systems in this country in the past few years. Introduced in May 2005, the Rhino Multi by Crewe, United Kingdom-based Wheelwash, is a go anywhere, self-contained wheel and vehicle cleaning system that solves on-site environmental protection problems. Its portability makes it well suited to the rental industry.
Wheelwash systems originated in Europe more than 30 years ago and contractors and municipalities began renting them about 15 years ago. Prior to the introduction of the Multi, components of such systems were too large to move around from site to site. The innovation of the Rhino Multi is its self-contained modular design, which allows it to be set up in just a couple hours by one to three people.
In addition, it can be set up on any type of surface area, such as crushed stone, asphalt or hard ground. Previous systems had to be set up on concrete or asphalt. Some competitive wheelwash systems require excavation before concrete or asphalt can be poured, making these units unsuitable for rental, according to Marshall Gralnick president of Wheelwash Division, Global Equipment Marketing, Boca Raton, Fla.
The Rhino Multi also recycles 92 to 98 percent of the water it uses depending on weather conditions and types of vehicles. The remaining percentage is lost either to overspray or residual water left on the vehicles it cleans.
“When a truck goes through the wheelwash it drives up the washracks and then goes through the pump,” says Gralnick. Wheels are washed two and a half times. Some other systems only wash wheels once, not enough to get all of the debris off, according to Gralnick.
The Multi system includes a pump house, a primary settlement tank and a secondary settlement tank. The solid-free water goes into a header tank, which is then used to prime the pump for the next vehicle wash. To replenish the water supply the Multi can either be connected to a water main or to a water truck.
A major benefit to the Rhino Multi is that it only uses one pump. Other systems have up to seven pumps, requiring more frequent maintenance and causing more downtime when a pump is out of service. The Multi requires weekly maintenance of its nozzles and regular sludge removal of the settlement tanks, depending on the number of trucks being washed.
Ben Taylor, sales manager of Kiely Equipment Co., the dealer for Wheelwash in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, says that his customers have been pleased with the efficiency of the system.
“Currently, we have a Wheelwash Rhino System on rent at a construction site in New York City,” Taylor says. “Our customer, an environmental engineering firm, has faced many challenges in this active city neighborhood. There is a high-rise apartment building on one side; a bus depot on the other side; and across the street from the site entrance is a tower crane constructing a skyscraper. It has been imperative for the customer to contain jobsite track-out in the close quarters of this busy neighborhood while moving over 60 trucks per day, with an average cleaning time of 30 seconds per truck.
“Our customer has had positive feedback from both city and state inspectors regarding the thorough cleaning of the undercarriage and wheels on the vehicles leaving the jobsite. The customer and inspectors have been impressed with the Rhino Wheelwash efficiency and 98 percent recycling of water compared to the traditional method of employing laborers with handheld wands, trying to clean the undercarriage and wheels of the vehicles. According to the customer, their use of Wheelwash technology is maintaining jobsite integrity and confirming their reputation as an industry leader.”
The Rhino Multi wheelwash also offers an advantage to rental companies that have it in their fleets because it often requires rental of an additional item. It can either be powered by the electric main in the location where it is set up or it can be run off of a portable generator. In addition, a vacuum truck is needed to remove the sludge from the settlement tanks. Rental companies that have generators and/or vacuum trucks in their fleets may be able to compound their rental revenue with these items. As a result, the wheelwash may necessitate three rentals from a single customer.
According to Gralnick, the Multi can service 150 to 200 trucks per day on its two settlement tanks, and additional tanks can be added to increase its capacity — another advantage to its modular design. Landfills and construction sites are common applications for the Multi wheelwash and the demand for such systems is growing.
“Some states are beginning to implement guidelines for wheelwashing, but it's just getting started in the U.S.,” says Gralnick. “Our environmental standards are more lax than in Europe.”
The state of Connecticut, which is thinking of setting some wheelwashing guidelines, recently contacted the company to get specs on the system, says Gralnick, who predicts the demand for wheelwash systems will peak in three to five years. Currently manufactured in the U.K., the company is looking for U.S.-based fabricators to start up its production in the states.
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Innovative Product Award Finalists
MMD Equipment Compaction Pro 280R
MMD Equipment's CompactionPro PF280R reversible vibratory plate compactor is powered by the 9-hp Honda electronic-ignition engine and combines a twin eccentric shaft-type vibrator to deliver 7,871 pounds of compacting force (the highest centrifugal force in its class) and 4,200 vpm. Ruggedly designed for medium-sized applications and 9,660 sqaure feet per hour of productivity, the PF280R features: a lower center-of-gravity for stability up to a 44-degree incline; reliable hydraulic direction control with fingertip-touch reversibility; an abrasion-resistant alloy-steel plate nearly ¾-inch thick with a lifetime warranty; 100 percent edge-to-edge compaction; low handle vibration; longer belt-life and an easy access flip-lever throttle control located on the handlebar.
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Ingersoll-Rand AirSource compressors
The AirSource line is actually three models of portable, tow-behind, diesel-powered air compressors. The AirSource model is 160 cfm at 100 psi powered by a 49-hp Ingersoll-Rand engine, the AirSource Plus IR model is 185 cfm at 100 psi powered by a 62-hp Ingersoll-Rand engine, and the AirSource Plus JD is 185 cfm at 100 psi powered by a 65-hp John Deere engine. All engines are Tier II compliant.
Product highlights include a virtually indestructible, corrosion-resistant canopy made from an engineered composite material. The canopy opens to 45 degrees for routine maintenance and opens to an industry-leading 90 degrees for unprecedented component access, the company says. The AirSource line also features a remote, spin-on separator element, eliminating the need to enter the separator tank to service this vital component.
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Solutions by Computer Enfinity rental management software
Enfinity, from Solutions by Computer, is a revolutionary system built on 23 years of inventory management software experience. Enfinity helps rental, sales and service businesses maximize returns on inventory investment through rigorous tracking and intuitive transactions, RFID, image capture, service scheduling, transparent accountability, intelligent data trees and more. Windows-based Enfinity marries a post-relational database to Solutions' powerful software applications to offer exceptional scalability, from one system to thousands of networked systems. The company's flagship UNIX-based system, CounterPro, has been the most-utilized system among rental businesses in North America for more than two decades.
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Co-Winner Concrete Working Equipment
CM Diamond Blades Dry/Wet cutting saw
CM Diamond Blade's dry/wet cutting saw has several unique features: a dry cut, dust-free system; no width limit of cut; and a handle suited for both right- and left-handed operation. This saw has a cutting capacity of 8 inches in height and 18 inches in length. It is lightweight, weighing only 68 pounds, thus allowing one person to transport it alone. This saw is also endowed with a 3-hp (at peak), 120-volt motor.
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Co-Winner Concrete Working Equipment
Wacker Walk-behind trowel series
Wacker asked many of the nation's top concrete contractors what they want in a trowel. As a result of their input, Wacker's new walk-behind trowel line offers improved operator safety, productivity and comfort.
Key features of the CT series:
Gyroscopic safety sensor and gearbox brake (patented). This unique technology allows the handle to stop rotation within 270 degrees, protecting the operator from a spinning handle.
Dynamically balanced design (patent pending) centers the weight of the trowel while the machine is in operation. This reduces the force required by the operator by as much as 50 percent and dramatically improves ease of operation, reducing operator fatigue and increasing productivity.
The handle design (patented) offers maximum control and comfort to the operator, again increasing productivity. Four models are available in the series — two 36-inch and two 48-inch diameter models with the choice of either a Honda or Wacker engine.
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Hilti WSR 1400-PE reciprocating saw
More powerful than any other reciprocating saw on the market, the WSR 1400-PE reciprocating saw delivers maximum cutting power and Hilti innovations such as Smart Power and Active Vibration Reduction for strong cutting performance.
The Hilti Smart Power system is designed to maintain constant blade speed under load, which significantly reduces the cutting time. Equipped with the AVR system, vibration is greatly reduced to provide better working comfort. A 13.5-amp motor and six speed settings help ensure the right amount of power and cutting speed for each job, and the saw's orbital action allows faster, more aggressive cutting.
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Bobcat T140 compact track loader
The Bobcat T140 compact track loader delivers excellent flotation and traction in soft ground conditions with its rubber tracks, minimizing damage to existing surfaces. Designed for grading, excavating and landscaping, the 1,400-pound rated loader is built to work in the tightest conditions (just 55 inches wide).
This model is only one of two compact track loaders with a 1,300- to 1,600-pound rated operating capacity, filling a niche in the compact equipment marketplace. The machine includes many of the features you'd expect from Bobcat Company, like a full suspension seat, deluxe cab, and nearly 17 gpm of standard hydraulic flow.
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Honda Power Products iGX engine
The Honda iGX is an intelligent computer-controlled, general-purpose engine. It is the first in power equipment history with an integrated electronic control unit delivering complete drive-by-wire remote control capability.
The iGX 440 15-hp overhead cam engine works with a V-type valve layout and sparkplug-center combustion chamber to increase fuel economy by approximately 15 percent over similar engines. Its environmental performance is among the best in the world, with approximately 30 percent lower emissions than EPA Phase 2 and CARB Tier II standards.
The iGX, designed for rental applications, needs no manual manipulation of the choke and throttle.
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Wacker Mobile Generator series
A new mobile generator line developed for the rental industry calls attention to Wacker's commitment to the power equipment market. The four new models are manufactured at Wacker's ISO 9001-2000 facility in Wisconsin and offer a wide range of customer benefits:
Reduced sound levels — Quietest in its class (example G 25 is just 63 dBA at 23 feet).
Improved motor starting capabilities — A new generator end with a separate excitation winding significantly improves motor starting capabilities.
Enhanced durability — Measures have been taken overall to eliminate rust spots, including stainless-steel external hardware and hinges and galvanized door handles. The rear intake vent panel is treated with an automotive grade, corrosion-resistant coating and the one-piece integral lifting structure eliminates external hardware.
Maximum flexibility — A number of options are available to allow the generators to be custom designed to the particular application, such as construction, special event or industrial use.
Easy to use — The simplified layout of the control panel makes it easy for a variety of users from different industries to understand and operate the generator.
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JLG Model T500J Tow-Pro
The JLG Model T500J Tow-Pro trailer-mounted boomlift is gas or electric powered. It features a 50-foot platform height, 500 pounds of platform capacity, a 4-foot jib boom and can be towed at speeds up to 65 mph. The platform control box uses one-handed proportional controls.
For operating tools from the platform, a base-mounted accessory tray accommodates a customer-supplied generator, power washer or air compressor. Factory installed water, air and electric lines with quick connect fittings are routed through the boom from the base to the platform. Options include a material handling hook and a drive and outrigger set system.
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The new Muck Truck moves all kinds of materials over almost any terrain. With a Honda engine, 4-wheel drive and large tires, the machine will climb over obstacles, up steep slopes carrying a quarter-ton load faster and cheaper than a tracked vehicle.
Intuitive controls, four forward speeds and one reverse allow the operator to work quickly and efficiently. At only 28 inches wide the Muck Truck goes through standard doorways.
The Muck Truck is designed for farming, gardening, building, remodeling, landscaping, golf course maintenance or any job that requires moving loads of materials from one place to another.
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Essex Silver-Line SL-8 Velcro drum sander
Essex Silver-Line's new, time-saving Velcro sandpaper attachment for rotary drum sander makes paper attachment simple, easy and friendly. Rugged nylon Velcro hooks mount on Essex Silver-Line's rubber resilient rotary drum, matched with the company's nylon loops mounted on its sandpaper. This method holds the sandpaper tight around the drum eliminating paper explosion and clogged fans. Even grits No. 12 and No. 16 — very coarse papers — are easily attached. No chatter marks, no streaks, and no gouges, give a professional-type final result. Velcro drum exchanges are easy, quick, and reasonably priced. It's a time-saver for counter personnel. The simple demo of attachment is less than a minute. No wrenches, no screwdrivers, no bar, no fiddling with belts, just simple and customer friendly.
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