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Lift off with Briggs Equpment’s new Thunderbird vans

Briggs Equipment UK, the UK's national materials handling service provider, has come to the rescue of the tail lift industry with the launch of a unique extended wheel base van.

Increasingly onerous operating and safety regulations demanded a new approach to the service and maintenance of the UK's vehicle mounted lifting equipment, which includes tail lifts. Briggs Equipment, which already runs a 500-strong mobile engineering operation to service its fleet of Cat® Lift Trucks and ancillary plant and equipment, quickly realised that a new type of van was needed.

The 6.5 tonne Iveco Daily vans have an extended chassis that incorporates a unique, extended wheel-base with an on-board crane and hoist mechanism. The design of the van was critical in providing a service to deliver the statutory inspections and overload tests required in the tail lift market.

Ian Valentine, VMLE Divisional Manager at Briggs comments, “These vans are truly mobile workshops and carry everything on board to deliver the weight tests more accurately and safely than ever before. Prior to this, service engineers had to carry all their equipment in a trailer behind the vehicle, which was cumbersome and involved a lot of manual handling of heavy weights. We call this van the Thunderbird, because of its length and the hoist and crane mechanism looks like something out of a science fiction movie, when it glides in and out of the van!”

The fleet of vans have a 4 ton pay load and currently carry 2 tonnes of test weights in six 375 kg pods. A remote unit controls the lifting and placement of the weights, which means that the weight tests can be conducted more safely in less time, and with a greater degree of accuracy. This ensures the engineer has all the kit to carry out statutory inspections that meet LOLER regulations for Thorough Examination and weight testing.

The vans were designed and produced in conjunction with QI Van Systems, who designed a bespoke internal framework which is attached to the chassis. Briggs Equipment is first to market with these vehicles, which are supplied by Fraikin and are the only ones of their kind in operation. In addition to the crane system, each van is kitted out with an on-board welding system, full set of tooling and over £5,000 of parts.

“Essentially all the weight is carried by the chassis, which is how we were able to meet safety and licensing regulations so easily,” comment's Ian Valentine. “The increased payload coupled with the range of tooling and parts that we are able to carry on board mean that the engineer can turn up in the middle of a muddy field and not only service the lifting equipment but the forklifts, trailers, agricultural machinery and almost any other plant equipment on site.”

In spending time to really listen and understand its customer's needs and then respond with strong action has meant that Briggs has delivered a uniquely tailored solution, the first of its kind in the UK. This gives the UK tail lift industry, Europe's largest market for VMLE equipment, greater control over critical aspects of its supply chain.

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