Makinex, United Academy and Genie Take Top Prizes in RER’s Innovative Product Award

Dec. 10, 2016
Powered Hand Truck PHT-140 from Makinex, United Academy’s aerial work platform virtual reality simulator, and Genie’s Z-60/37FE and DC boomlifts take the top prizes in RER’s 15th IPA.

Powered Hand Truck PHT-140 from Makinex, United Academy’s aerial work platform virtual reality simulator, and Genie’s Z-60/37FE and DC boomlifts take the top prizes in RER’s 15th IPA.

As occurs every year, a panel of a dozen rental industry judges review a bunch of products for RER’s annual Innovative Product Award. This year more than 40 products were entered and narrowing it down to three finalists was no easy task for our judges.

Many of the manufacturers submitting products are prominent names in the rental industry, such as Genie and JLG, Gehl, Case, JCB, Sullair, Skyjack, Hilti, Generac and more. Others were smaller companies and a few were from companies the judges never had even heard of before, which didn’t stop them from getting votes and contending.

The final vote was extremely close with just four points separating the top four vote-getters. When the votes were tallied and the smoke cleared, the Gold Award went to a company that was born in Australia and is now based in California, which burst on the scene last year as a category winner in the “Miscellaneous” group with a dual pressure washer, a company known as Makinex. The product is a small one, but it might save you and your employees a serious injury some day: The Makinex Powered Hand Truck PHT-140, a universal materials handling solution that enables one person to safely lift and load small equipment or bulky goods weighing up to 309 pounds. It provides a quick and easy alternative to using a forklift or tailgate loader for small loads. The hand truck initially seemed primarily designed for rental company staffs to use internally, but now that they are using the machine internally some rental companies are marketing them to their customers as popular rental items.

Finishing in second place with the Silver Award is another repeat winner, having won a category award in the Technology Enhancements category, United Academy, the training arm of United Rentals. After its prize last year for its Wallet Card and App, United Academy this year takes us into the realm of virtual reality with its Aerial Work Platform – Virtual Reality Simulator. Working in conjunction with Serious Labs, United Academy developed a virtual reality program to train people on the safe use of aerial work platforms and other products. The idea is not to take the place of online training programs, theory, and hands-on experience, all of which are part of the education necessary to master the safe use of AWPs, but to prepare operators for using a machine in the real world so that new operator can practice on a simulator before going up in the real world with more confidence.

The Bronze Award for third place goes to a company that has won multiple awards including previous gold awards for its low-level Runabout and its ground-breaking 180-foot boomlift – Genie Industries. This time Genie places among the finalists with its Z-60/37 FE and DC booms in which the same machine can go from full electric to hybrid to direct current with a flip of the switch. The machine is already creating a buzz in the aerial marketplace and joins the successful family of Z-boom products.

How these machines and services fare in the rental industry remains to be seen, but they certainly were big hits with our judges and we hope you find them fascinating as well. In the next few issues and online, you’ll learn a lot more about our category winners and all the Innovative Product Award entries.



Powered Hand Truck PHT-140

Lift Safely and Efficiently with a Powered Hand Truck

It has been a year of recognition for the PHT-140. It started with the European Rental Show innovative award, and continued to win the most innovative product at the Australian Hire Show. It has become a hit with most of the leading national rental companies in North America and is getting known among smaller, independent rental companies as well.

In February a video featuring the powered hand truck went viral and got 10 million views.

It all started with an Australian hire company called Kennards Hire, one of the leading “hire” or rental companies in that country. Bill Whitehouse of Kennards Hire came to Makinex president Rory Kennard, who as a member of the Kennard family had grown up at Kennards and told him the company had a safety issue. Kennards staff were lifting items ranging from 35 to 100 pounds all day. There was a health concern related to back issues, not to mention a safety concern as these items were susceptible to falling, causing damage to other items at the rental center as well as injuries to staff and customers. Rory Kennard and his team of designers came up with a foldable, battery-powered hand truck.

“If a piece of equipment has a lifting eye on it, you can actually hook to it with a hook and just lift it right up,” says Makinex general manager Peter Maginnis. “There is no having to tilt it to get something under it. And we developed a sling device because some manufacturers in the United States don’t put lifting eyes on their equipment. So for the U.S. market we have a sling that hooks onto the Power Hand Truck hook and then you can just sling the piece of equipment through different lifting points. You can lift anything up to 309 pounds.”

The Makinex Powered Hand Truck PHT-140 is a universal materials handling solution that enables one person operation to safely lift and load small equipment or bulky goods weighing up to 309 pounds. It provides a quick and easy alternative to using a forklift or tailgate loader for small loads. It has many applications and can be used in workshops, warehouses, factories, depots, distribution companies, the HVAC industry and rental centers. Diverse manufacturers such as Boeing and Tesla have taken a look.

The hand truck is powered by an 18-volt, lithium ion battery. It can be operated by one person. The lifting arm reach is controlled by the user lifting or lowering the handles. The arm height is controlled by a simple thumb switch. One person can lift and load directly into vehicles (trucks, vans, utility vehicles and cars) or can place equipment and small loads on bench tops. It eliminates awkward and dangerous one- or two-person lifts and reduces the incidence of back and other injuries caused by heavy lifting. After use it can be folded down flat for easy transport and storage.

The Makinex Powered Hand Truck comes standard with a hook attachment for lifting, moving and loading small equipment and machinery fitted with a lifting eye such as water pumps, generators, air compressors, or plate compactors.

The hand truck is made of lightweight aluminum. It has long lift cycles and the battery recharges in three hours.

Maginnis says the product has been in development for about four years, with the company on the third phase of the product now. Makinex, which has its U.S. headquarters in Redondo Beach, Calif., is gearing up production, recently receiving its first container load of 100 units from Australia and sent out to customer immediately, and will have another container this very month. The company will continue to receive at least one container per month. To meet increasing demand, Makinex is now manufacturing larger amounts in China.

The powered hand truck will be exhibiting at upcoming trade shows such as the World of Concrete and The Rental Show.



United Academy (powered by United Rentals, software co-created by Serious Labs)

Aerial Work Platform – Virtual Reality Simulator

Put the Goggles On

Virtual reality is having a growing impact on the workplace and is now being put to use by United Academy, the training arm of United Rentals, to help teach people how to confidently and safely operate aerial work platforms.

The aerial work platform virtual reality simulator is designed to bridge the gap between theory and competency for trainees. After successfully completing the theory portion of operator training, the trainee can experience virtual operation of an AWP to become familiar with the controls, best practices and machine behavior and performance before going live in the air.

United Academy, which developed the program with Serious Labs, is finding that the virtual reality simulator reduces anxiety for students who are unaccustomed to working at height, preparing them for the next step of engagement with an instructor. The operation metrics give instructors a sense of how trainees will operate the AWP, highlighting potential problem areas prior to hands-on evaluation.

New operators experience navigating real-world scenarios that show how to avoid incidents. Simulated motion allows the operator to experience the actual feeling of an elevated basket, using a replica control panel.

The learner can experience situations that might not be practical or safe to demonstrate in the real world, such as navigating tight corners, thus preventing equipment damage and personnel injury caused by common basket collisions. Also since AWP controls are relative to the chassis, not the basket, new operators often overlook directional arrows when familiarizing themselves with the controls, causing movement in undesired directions. The simulator also includes scenarios such as overhead hazards, powerlines and steep inclines and forces the trainee to position the AWP according to best practices.

The operator uses a goggle headset (the Oculus Rift). The software plays on the goggles the user wears. The course focuses on boomlift operator certification. Trainees play a game with 15 levels, each one with distinct specific tasks that grow more difficult as the levels increase.

“The whole theory here is before we put someone on a piece of equipment, we put them on the simulator,” says Loretta Foley, director of United Academy. “They can get a keen understanding of the control panel of a boomlift, for example, in a safe environment. If you hit the up button, you feel like you’re going up. If you hit the down button, you go down, left or right as well. The basket that we put people on for the simulator activity is moving in the direction that the user indicates with the controls.”

United Academy partnered with Serious Labs to create the software for the simulator. “We partnered with them on our blended learning courses,” says Foley. “We have 12 blended learning courses, a combination of online training plus live practical evaluation. We did it for fall protection, boomlifts, scissorlifts, rough-terrain forklifts and dirt equipment such as skid-steers, backhoes, and excavators. Online theory, with a final exam, and then this live practical evaluation session.”

Foley says the simulator is not only beneficial for equipment newcomers, but it provides opportunities for experienced users to refresh their skills. “The best practice for a boom and scissor is to re-certify every three years,” Foley says. “With forklifts it’s required every three years. So what do you do in between those three years? If you’re an employer, you don’t just want to shut your eyes and hope that everyone is operating safely.”

The use of the simulator is new, beginning this year, but Foley says staff has seen a better comprehension among students on how to use equipment, along with increased confidence.



Genie Industries

Genie Z-60/37 FE and DC booms

The Ford F-150 Meets the Tesla

The Genie Z-60/37FE and DC booms offer full internal combustion-style performance with the advantage of being able to turn off the engine and go indoors as well. On long-term jobs, even when onsite power is not available, the boomlifts can work on rough and unprepared ground, and perform in indoor applications where reduced noise and emissions levels are necessary, such as sports arenas, shopping malls and convention centers.

The fuel-electric (FE) machine provides the choice of two modes of operation: Full electric, which means full-day, emissions-free performance on a single charge, or hybrid mode, which provides more than a week of runtime on a single tank of diesel. In hybrid mode, the unit uses its environmentally friendly 24-hp Tier 4/Stage IIIB Final engine-powered generator to maintain the battery state of charge or to supplement the battery power to get a boost in performance.

With zero emissions and full-day operation on one charge, the all-electric DC units provide full charge from a 110-volt wall power supply in less than 14 hours.

The Z-60/37FE and DC booms offer 45-percent gradeability, ground clearance of 1 foot, 1 inch with full oscillating axles that increase wheel contact on rough terrain. Fully sealed AC motors support drive performance while submerged under three feet of water.

Genie has produced Z booms since the 1980s, but the drive system technology and hybrid system technology employed in the Z-60/37 booms have been under development for several years.

“We’ll be working on a technology and refining and working and iterating on it and aspects of that technology will find their way into other products,” says Adam Hailey, director of product management for Genie. “For instance, the AC drive technology, which is really critical for the success of the FE, is something we started many years ago and had been working on with our suppliers.”

Hailey says the differentiator on this machine is that the hybrid machine is indistinguishable from a diesel-powered machine from a performance standpoint. “You can even argue that with the AC four wheel drive motors, the drive performance is even better,” he says. “It even exceeds the diesel version. That was a key focus of those developing the specification and working through the performance attributes with the engineering group three or four years ago.”

Hailey says the FE is a true hybrid in the sense of charging the batteries effectively and directly powering the AC-drive motors and also boosting the performance of the hydraulic drive system. “On this hybrid, the FE hybrid, if the batteries are dead, if for whatever reason you show up on a jobsite and they didn’t charge it on the hybrid system or didn’t plug it in, you turn the generator on, and you’re back up to full performance and running like a normal machine,” he says.

Hailey says the development of the Z-60/37 was spurred by customers wanting hybrid solutions. In Europe the demand is very strong because of much tighter quarters on jobsites and legislated noise restrictions, as well as limits of total emissions on jobs.

“In the U.S., one of the big drivers was the new Tier 4 Final requirements,” Hailey notes. “From an engine technology standpoint to meet Tier 4 Final emissions requirements, manufacturers were going to great lengths to meet requirements for emissions, with enormous impact on costs. So machines had to become more expensive, but when you look at a hybrid system, we’re using a very small engine for this size machine.”

During the past few years, sensitivity to noise in pedestrian and residential areas was a major factor as well as growing limits to emissions on jobsites.

Genie did not want to compromise the unit’s drive performance, says Hailey. “This is a rough-terrain machine, it is 4-wheel drive,” he says. “It has the same tires that you find on any other rough-terrain machine that we offer. Years ago, we developed an active oscillating system and it’s basically a set of pivoting axles, all four wheels can pivot and follow the terrain. It’s just maintaining 4-wheel contact as you’re going over lumps, or going into depressions and over difficult terrain, it’s making sure that you’re always keeping four wheels on the ground. The oscillating system is always active even when the boom is elevated. You’re keeping that 4-wheel drive and tractive effort. It’s really kind of a combination of a Ford F150 and a Tesla, you get the tough and rugged performance of a big diesel truck and then you get the power and elegance of a system like a Tesla.”

Hailey also points out the machine’s fully CAN-enabled control system, providing a lot of information about what’s going on with the machine.  “We know what’s going on with the drive motors and the charge system, it’s a CAN-enabled charger,” he says. “All of these CAN-enabled components are talking to the control system and giving performance feedback and diagnostic information. All of this diagnostic information is reported back to the main control system hub and then it can be accessed through the LCD display that’s at the platform.”


Here are the Category Winners for the 2016 RER Innovative Product Award

Compressors/Air Tools:

Sullair 400HH Tier 4 Final

Key Innovation: The 400HH is a new high-powered and versatile offering from Sullair that maximizes engine power into pressure and air flow volume. The engine-mounted after-treatment allows Sullair to package the engine into a 25-percent small footprint, helping with jobsite maneuverability. It also has swing doors on all four sides providing unprecedented service access.

Computer Software:

Point of Rental Elite

Key Innovation: Point of Rental Elite provides the first full-featured, user-friendly ERP solution for a new generation for rental store owners, using Windows-based software built on an SQL platform.

Cutting/Drilling Equipment:

Makinex Hose 2 Go

Key Innovation: Self-pressurized portable water source – no pump, no electronics.

Earthmoving Equipment:

Terramac RT14R 360° Rotating Rubber Track Carrier

Key Innovation: Te Terramac RT14R features a unique rotational functionality to enhance operator safety and increase efficiency while offloading materials.


MMD Equipment Hybrid Fuel System

Key Innovation: Uses a free by-product that is normally wasted, as a fuel source, reducing diesel fuel usage and extending maintenance intervals.


Genie Z-60/37FE and DC booms

Key Innovation: Delivering full IC style performance with the advantage of being able to work both indoors and outdoors.

Light Towers:

Generac Mobile Products PLT240 LinkTower

Key innovation: One-person maneuverable light tower fits through standard doorways, share power – zero emissions link up to two LinkTowers together. Extremely durable, Generac LED fixtures.

Material Handling:

Makinex Powered Hand Truck PHT-140

Key innovation: Lifting and loading solution – no license required, safety driven.


GroundWorks Safety Systems Self-descending High Arch Trench Box

Key innovation: Taking high-arch trench box assembly from hours to minutes while eliminating risk to workers.

Power Tools:

Hilti Breaker TE 800-AVR

Key Innovation: The Dhandle design makes it optimal for demolition work on walls and breaking out openings for doors and windows. Features Hi-drive technology to help deliver 15 ft-pounds of impact energy.


Thompson Pump’s Enviroprime System

Key Innovation: The OVT system offers lower maintenance and operating expenses because the system is dry running – no recirculating oil is needed. Eliminating the oil, in turn, eliminates pollution that traditional systems may experience. Refined the OVT to run on the ISC series with Thompson’s control panel and new self-cleaning impeller.

Technology Enhancements:

United Academy Aerial Work Platform – Virtual Reality Simulator

Key innovation: Simulator bridges the gap between course theory and competency check for trainees.