Otis Fleet Replaces Muscle with Machines
Portable cranes allowed Otis Elevators to right-size its truck fleet without losing capability, reduce injury, and increase efficiency for mobile workers.
In an age where technical advancements oversaturate the marketplace, fleet managers find themselves wading through the latest breakthroughs, hoping to find the one gem that will truly help their operations. Phil Schreiber, fleet manager North America for Otis Elevator, is no different.
"We get so many e-mails and advertisements that when I get information on new products, I give it five seconds and make a decision to trash it or investigate further," he said. Recently, one product caught Schreiber's eye: Spitzlift portable cranes. "The instant I saw it, I decided to look further."
Spitzlifts are portable cranes that can be mounted on trucks and other fleet units. Weighing only 30-40 lbs., they can lift up to 900 lbs., and be folded for storage. This lightweight, modular design allows workers to use the cranes both on fleet units and at jobsites, and with minimal payload impact - features very attractive to Schreiber and his colleagues.
"The whole thing weighs around 37 lbs. without the battery," he said. "Everyone could lift it with no problem - and it can lift 900 lbs. - 30 times its weight. What else can do that? After seeing that, I was really intrigued."
Spitzlifts are portable cranes that can be mounted on trucks and other fleet units. Weighing only 30-40 lbs., they can lift up to 900 lbs., and be folded for storage. According to Phil Schreiber, fleet manager North America for Otis Elevator, the crane can lift 30 times its own weight.
An Economical Alternative to Upfitting
In addition to lifting items 30 times its weight, Spitzlifts also solved a serious issue for Otis Elevator's fleet. In the past, the company would put a service body with a liftgate on Ford F-350 trucks to lift heavy equipment - often weighing more than 1 ton - in and out of fleet units. For a long time, the F-350s did the trick. That is, until the gasoline crunch came.
When fuel costs were around $4 per gallon, the F-350s were getting 10 mpg at best. So, Schreiber started purchasing F-250s with service bodies. However, due to OEM recommendations, he couldn't upfit the smaller trucks with a liftgate - the chassis just couldn't take the weight. While the F-250s were more fuel-efficient, they wouldn't be able to lift or lower heavy items, a critical job function for Otis employees.
"In our business, you need 3,000-7,000 lbs. of equipment and supplies to do the job," Schreiber explained. "If you don't have a liftgate, you can't even get the equipment in the truck. But, all of a sudden, this 37-lb. crane comes to the rescue. We took two F-250 trucks and put the crane to work. It was an immediate success."
The instant success of the first Spitzlifts launched a pilot program in Otis' San Diego branch. "They jumped on the opportunity to do the pilot program. The rest is history, because they liked it right away," Schreiber said.
Installing Spitzlifts on F-250s has already yielded huge savings. By Schreiber's estimation, moving from F-350s to F-250s saves $8,000 or $9,000 in the cost of the truck alone. On top of that, purchasing cranes instead of liftgates saves another $1,000. Also, operational costs in terms of gasoline are 10- to 12-percent lower for the F-250. Over the lifetime of the vehicle - about five years - this results in $14,000 to $15,000 of savings per vehicle.