SAF-Holland: Challenging gravity

Tail lift failure can spell disaster, impacting the entire supply chain performance and compromising customer satisfaction. The best way to get ahead of the game, according to SAF-Holland, is to listen to the market and put into practice their feedback when developing new features and products.

SAF-Holland, a world leader in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of quality-engineered components, has been providing fleets with one of the most durable and reliable tail lifts on the market today. For over 30 years, Holland brand tail lifts have been engineered and manufactured to service all climates. Be it snow, rain, blizzards or sunshine, these hardy tail lifts can withstand the most diverse environment conditions, according to SAF-Holland.

“The Holland product line aims to provide solutions to a wider range of fleet delivery applications and demands, while continuing to provide the durability and reliability customers require,” says Bill Rector, SAF-Holland’s Tail Lift Sales and Marketing Director. “The current tail lift line offers everything from direct hydraulic twin column liftgates, to single cylinder foldaway liftgates, with capacities ranging from 6,600 to 2,500 lbs (2990kg to 1130kg) for heavy-duty, high volume/high cycle applications, or fleets operating in environments where corrosion is an issue.

According to Rector, providing a corrosion-proof product is of utmost importance to the industry. SAF-Holland’s Black Armour™ metal treatment process prevents corrosion and “rust creep” by chemically bonding with the surface of the metal. This is hardly a new concept, but SAF take it to the next level. “We internally spray a rust preventative into the enclosed cross members of all steel platforms,” says Rector.

SAF is also the first manufacturer to offer a hot dipped galvanised tail lift option. “Both Black Armour™ and the galvanising treatment offers superior corrosion resistance, longer life and most importantly, better value and return on investment,” he says. “The engineers realise corrosion doesn’t stop at the metal surfaces and, as a result, have taken the necessary steps to protect other vital areas of the tail gate. Standard features such as sealed electrical harnesses, electrical connections by Deutsch and weather sealed enclosures all add the necessary protection to stand up to the chemicals and corrosives found in today’s environment.”

When it comes to the true test of reliability and performance – real world application – SAF tail lifts have proven themselves. One of SAF-Holland’s premier customers is a food service and laundry fleet that averages a staggering 125-150 cycles per day, seven days a week, on each of their 60+ tail lifts, lifting and lowering as much as 4,500 lbs (2040kg). “They run so many cycles that they have designed and installed their own APU (alternate power units) to maintain a charge in the batteries on their vehicles,” says Rector. “After trying out many other tail lifts in 2003, the fleet manager-in-charge added several SAF tail lifts to his fleet and eight years later, the DH-66 is the only tail lift he will run. If you calculate the cycles this fleet has put on their tail lifts, it is literally millions of cycles.”

But it doesn’t stop there. A quality tail lift also needs more than just heavy duty features and a long life to compete in today’s marketplace. Listening to feedback from the fleet managers and also the drivers and mechanics who are in contact with the equipment on a day-to-day basis is very important. “SAF-Holland engineers use this information and incorporate the features that make their tail lifts easy to use, easy to maintain and safe to operate directly from the people who use them everyday,” says Rector. Features such as a unique level-ride system ensuring a level loading platform, even with heavy offset loads, column and curbside controls on the DH Series tail lifts which provides convenient and timesaving operations, and simple and reliable electrical and hydraulic systems which keep maintenance and repair costs to a minimum, have all been implemented as a result of customer feedback.

Next on the agenda for SAF-Holland is introducing their new Gravity Down-on-Demand feature – in addition to its standard power down function – on the DH Series tail lift. The new feature, which will be unveiled in 2012, will allow operators to select between power down and gravity down depending on the delivery conditions. “In warmer climates, or during warmer seasons, the Gravity Down-on-Demand feature makes perfect, not to mention, economical sense, as it uses only minimal power which also minimizes the drain on the vehicle batteries and will ultimately save fuel and reduce emissions, which in itself can only be a good thing.”

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