Aimed at: Regular users, pro or otherwise who need solid workwear in cotton for a change.
Pros: Comfy and practical with pockets galore.
Workwear of various kinds is now a requirement in my life and I am lucky enough to have had a good choice of various kinds to try out.
While I can see the practicality of synthetic materials for making work clothes because of ease of washing and drying and even a measure of light water resistance, I actually like the comfort of cotton – so I was pleased when the postman delivered a couple of pairs of cotton work trousers from the latest collection by JCB Workwear.
The first pair I opened was a standard camouflage colour and I sort of wondered - Why camouflage? The answer, in part, seems to be that often agricultural workers like to wear camouflage colours in the country, but I have seen it on work sites too.
What struck me the very first time I tried them on is that the cut is comfortable but possibly a bit unfashionably baggy for younger, slimmer figures. But I was able to bend and stretch easily and they were comfortable around the waist. No danger of builder’s b*m if you had a decent belt because there are six belt loops – the back one is about 50mm wide – so they hold up very well.
Whatever trousers I wear I always manage to end up with a pile of stuff in my pockets. With ten pockets altogether there was enough space for smaller stuff like pencils and my utility knife. The main pockets are like jeans pockets and are quite deep, so will not spill stuff out if you bend over. On the left leg just underneath the main pocket is a deep (20 cm) gusseted pocket that would easily hold all manner of items and with the buttoned flap, the items are quite secure too. Also on the front pocket is a smallish zipped pocket that is big enough for the inevitable smartphone.
In the right hand pocket is a riveted small change pocket and on the back of the right leg above the knee, is a collection of three pockets – one of which would hold a rule and the others, things like a screwdriver etc.
Placed comfortably high up on the back are a pair of seventeen cm deep patch pockets with hook and loop flap closures. I always have a wallet with me (lunch money) so I like having the security of a flapped pocket but pliers and screwdrivers tend to end up in the left hand one because they don’t stab you in the leg when you bend down.
The kneepad pockets are top loading for ease, adjustable, and with a secure hook and loop fastening so that the kneepads – your favourite ones will fit – will not fall out.
Pretty well all the seams on these trousers are double stitched for strength and durability, so should last the course
Next in the parcel was a pair of 1945 Work Jeans. Jeans are the fashion statement of the moment, so I guess it is no surprise that there is a demand from work people for denim work trousers. These trousers are in fact not 100% cotton – they are made of 85% Cordura cotton with 15% nylon. The material is also four times more abrasion resistant than comparable cotton denim so is ideal for heavy use.
The pockets and other features of these 1945 Work Jeans are exactly the same as the camouflage ones mentioned above so will suit general site workers. If anything, I found these work jeans even more comfortable than the camouflage ones!
New Lighting Season, New Products! From the Creators of AP Pro Series
Active Products, creators of the best-selling AP Pro Series range of high performance torches are pleased to bring to market this autumn five new and improved products to expand their AP Pro Series Professional torch range coinciding with the start of the 2016 lighting season.
Exciting new Additions to the AP Pro Series Range
Brand new AP ProSeries products include;
- 270 Lumens COB LED + 100 Lumens LED Rechargeable Inspection Lamp & Torch
- 250 Lumens Cree LED Battery Spotlight
Upgrades to the existing range;
- 150 Lumens High Performance Head Torch, upgraded from 100 lumens.
- 300 Lumens High Performance 2AA Aluminium Torch from 125 lumens.
- 430 Lumens High Performance Torch, upgraded from 210 lumens.
Active Products was established in 2003 and have established a solid reputation supplying affordable, high quality torch products to the DIY, wholesale and Retail sectors. Their range of torches extend from their budget range of great value AP torches to their high end range of Cree LED professional torches; the AP Pro Series, now an ever popular choice for retailers looking to offer a premium torch brand that strikes the balance of achieving high quality at an affordable price point.
All AP Pro Series torch products feature the latest CREE LED technology and a minimum five-year guarantee on Flashlights and 3-year guarantee on Rechargeable Spotlights which are packed full of nifty features that make the premium torch range appeal widely across trade professionals, emergency services, commercial use and every-day DIYers who are looking for powerful performance and longevity from their torch.
LED and CREE Explained
It’s now quite commonplace to see torches with traditional LED, with many featuring multiple LED’s to enhance performance. However products featuring the ‘CREE’ LED logo see the power source coming from a small micro-chip rather than bulb and brings with it outstanding energy efficiency, brilliantly intense, bright white light, offering a truly remarkable lifespan of the chip when compared to a normal incandescent bulb. With CREE LED’s efficiency levels, the torch products built with CREE technology achieve brighter light for a much longer period of time, meaning the torch will use smaller and few batteries than a standard torch, with CREE LED lifespans estimated to be around 100,000 hours.
Exceptional Brightness at the Click of a Button
New for 2016, the 250 Lumens Spotlight packs a real punch.
With its unique handle for precise torch light positioning, the 250 lumens Spotlight will light up the darkest corners with its brilliant bright white light. The incredible lighting range of 300 metres and up to 100 hours of battery life, the 250 Lumens spotlight will suit the toughest demands from a wide range of users.
Packed full of fantastic features, this handy spotlight is floatable and submersible and water resistant (IP x 7), perfect for boat owners and offers a tough, high quality rubberised finish users have come to expect from the AP Pro Series professional range.
The 3 modes of operation include high, low and flashing useful to emergency situations and the safety lock prevents unwanted on/off activation.
For tradesmen, DIYers and Campers looking for hands-free convenience, the durable tilt adjustable stand will enable the light to be sat sturdily on surfaces to position the beam where needed for hands-free operation.
Built with XP-G2 CREE White Technology and coming with a 5-year guarantee, this latest addition to the AP Pro Series is a powerful, lightweight spotlight delivering exceptional performance in an innovative new design at an affordable price. RRP £39.99
The Multi-Purpose Inspection Lamp & Torch in One
New for 2016, Inspection Lamp and Torch, no tool box should be without one!
For those people looking for an ultra-bright inspection lamp with a handy built in torch the search is over. The latest addition to Active Products AP Pro Series range sees the creation of the dual purpose Inspection Lamp and Torch, a versatile new lighting solution featuring two high performance lighting options within one unit, allowing users to toggle easily between the 270 lumens inspection lamp, featuring powerful COB (Chip on Board) LED technology and 100 lumens CREE LED torch light.
The rechargeable unit with handy USB connection and 1.5m USB cable is simply packed full of useful features, making it suitable for mechanics, plumbers, electricians and the building trade and a general great all-rounder torch for campers or homeowners to keep on hand for emergency use. The 30m beam projection on the inspection light provides fantastic coverage for mechanics working with cars and the 2 built in swivel hooks in the rear body, plus three built in magnets is designed for hassle free hands free operation.
With a 3 year manufacturer’s guarantee, the two in one Inspection Lamp and Torch is everything and more users have come to expect from the Active Products AP ProSeries high performance range or torches.
“We’re delighted to be adding innovative new products to the core AP ProSeries range, which continues to be a strong seller with retailers including Halfords, B&Q and Argos.” Says Ted McLoughlin, Sales Director at Active Products. “Buyers of hand held torch products are looking for added value features and seriously powerful performance, all at an affordable price point. Buyers' feedback suggest our AP ProSeries range is an excellent fit for today’s demanding consumer.”
Putting Innovation to the test with C.K Magma
Carl Kammerling International has enhanced its already popular C.K Magma range of premium tool storage with the new C.K Magma Test Equipment Case - an industry first, allowing electricians to carry diagnostic testing equipment and a selection of essential tools in one handy case.
Historically, storage and transportation cases for test meters did not accommodate the additional toolkit also necessary for technicians to carry out diagnostic and final certification testing. Until now, there has been no universal solution on the market for storing and transporting both test meters and toolkits.
After conducting extensive research into how electricians store and transport test equipment, Carl Kammerling International noticed this gap in the market, developing the C.K Magma Test Equipment Case as a convenient solution to the problem. The new product is the first of its kind to feature made-to-measure storage for both a test meter and toolkit, removing the inconvenience of having to transport them separately.
The case, with an RRP of £59.57, also offers a more lightweight alternative to carrying equipment compared to the heavier plastic cases often provided by the equipment manufacturers.
Featuring rubber feet and adjustable padded compartments, the C.K Magma Test Equipment Case provides durable, safe storage for testing equipment, plus a separate top compartment for storing a range of tools and accessories. 27 easily accessible pockets, including a handy business card and documentation holder, mean technicians can now carry all the necessary tools and documents for diagnostic testing without the need for any separate boxes, cases or bags.
Recognising the need to keep such expensive equipment safe and secure, C.K Magma has fitted a lockable zip system to the case.
With comfort as well as convenience and security in mind, a carry handle and padded shoulder strap have also been added to provide maximum comfort during transportation and use. The shoulder strap allows technicians to carry out equipment testing whilst carrying the case, making the process much more efficient.
Charles Whitfield, Product Development Manager at C.K Magma says: “We work closely with a dedicated group of professional tradesmen to create products that meet their working needs. Feedback revealed a need for a single solution to transport a diagnostic testing kit and a small selection of essential tools, without having to carry their full toolkit. The new C.K Magma Test Equipment Case is a direct result of this process and has been well received by electricians.”
For further information please visit www.carlkammerling.com or call 01758 704704.
HSS Hire Group (“HSS Hire”), one of the UK’s leading providers of tools, equipment and related services, has won the coveted “Best Employer Brand” award at this year’s Recruitment Business Awards ceremony which took place in Manchester on 22nd September 2016.
HSS Hire was awarded first place in this prestigious category for the company’s work in creating a powerful employer brand that not only communicates their commitment to investing in their people and their working environment, but also reinforces the valuable role they play in customers’ lives.
The new brand consists of a number of creative ideas, message platforms and visual executions that focus on the concept of ‘Make it’. HSS were praised for successfully applying the brand throughout the business, including a new website where it has helped increase the number of people searching for jobs by 47% and the number of people applying by 30%. The new employer brand also appears across a number of social media channels, in all online and offline recruitment material, and has gone on to develop a life of its own with HSS employees even making branded birthday cakes.
The Recruitment Business Awards are now in their 14th year, and have become one of the most important events for the recruitment industry. Each year, the awards, which attract a large number of entries, aim to seek out the very best that Britain has to offer in the recruitment sector. Winners are judged by a panel of independent industry experts, and were presented with their awards in a glitzy ceremony in Manchester’s Mercure Hotel.
Lisa Crawford, Head of HR at HSS Hire said “we’re delighted that our hard work and the creative approach we developed with our partners at Chatter have both been recognised with this award. HSS Hire is already one of the country’s best known and most recognisable brands, and this award confirms that our employer brand is also one of the UK’s best, too.”
“Not only is it helping us stand out visually in today’s busy recruitment market, it has been instrumental in helping us vastly improve both the quantity and quality of the new people we’ve hired – and the signs are that it will continue doing this long into the future.”
For further information, please contact:
Benjamin Walker – 07715678740 – [email protected]
Inventor of the oscillating multi-tool and co-developer of the revolutionary new Starlock accessory mounting system FEIN has released three new universally fitting accessories with excellent blade life and cutting performance.
With all the advantages of the FEIN’s German manufactured top selling accessories, the three new bi-metal blades will fit any oscillating multi tool (OMT) with the 12-point mounting system, as well as fitting new machines accepting the Starlock system. The new E-Cut Universal long-life saw blades are available in the following sizes: 50mm x 50mm bi-metal wood blade (wood and nail tolerant), 55mm x 28mm (metal / wood – hacksaw pattern) and 55mm x 44mm (metal / wood – hacksaw pattern).
Made with a stainless steel holder for even greater precision, durability, reduced noise levels and vibration, the wood and nails blade is perfect for cutting all wood, plasterboard, plastic materials and is not affected by mild steel nails up to 4mm in diameter. Equally, the metal / wood blades are ideal for cutting sheet metal up to 2mm, aluminium profiles, copper pipes, all wood, plasterboard and plastics.
Based on the top three selling blades from the pre-Starlock FEIN range, these new accessories have been slightly shortened and narrowed to make them suitable for lower powered machines with the 12-point mounting system. With these three new additions, the total range of Starlock accessories available for the wider OMT market numbers 28. What’s more, because of their superior manufacturing, Starlock accessories can actually improve the performance of the machines they are attached to, offering faster work progress and extra durability. When they are combined with a Starlock machine, the three-dimensional fit provides a more secure connection and increased power transmission from machine to accessory.
Andy Mills, National Sales Manager at FEIN, commented: “The Starlock accessory mounting system is the fastest there is, taking less than three seconds to change a blade, and offers complete power transfer between machine and accessory. The great thing about these new Universal blades is that they offer all the benefits of the superior Starlock accessories to OMT users who don’t have a Starlock machine yet. So while they can’t enjoy the quick blade change, they can at least take advantage of the improved performance and durability of our accessories.”
Available from dealers, prices for FEIN Starlock E-Cut accessories can be bought for as little as £4.99 (excluding VAT). For more information or to find your nearest dealer please visit www.fein-uk.co.uk
The new ABUS wAppLoxx access control system, voted “Best Product of the Year 2016/2017” at the Plus X Award, makes security possible with just a flick of the wrist: For complete user convenience wAppLoxx is designed so the door can be opened or closed either on site or on the go using web or app access. For an all-encompassing security solution wAppLoxx can be networked with an alarm and video surveillance system.
The ABUS wAppLoxx access control system combines convenience, flexibility and maximum security. wAppLoxx is accessible via PCs, tablets and smartphones, the central control unit can be operated and configured both locally via the Intranet as well as worldwide with the help of the integrated web interface. Changes to the locking rights can be implemented in the space of seconds and are valid online immediately via radio at all doors.
Security and flexibility for private and commercial properties
Up to 20 wAppLoxx cylinders and 150 users can be easily administered via the wAppLoxx Control unit. Thus wAppLoxx is suitable for use in your own home as well as commercial properties such as medium-sized offices, medical practices or law firms. Once installed wAppLoxx can be extended to meet the changing requirements of the property. Comprehensive individual consulting is available from ABUS Customer Service to determine the optimum wAppLoxx security solution.
Intelligent networking for convenient security
wAppLoxx offers a high level of convenience for the user: The system has a first-class alarm connection including rights administration. This ensures the successful connection of access control and alarm system with optional video surveillance. This means the alarm system can be deactivated when the building is opened and activated when the building is locked, which virtually rules out false alarms. The use of wAppLoxx can be conveniently integrated into everyday life while providing maximum security.
Promotional POS units and starter deals are available to help distributors exploit this award winning access control innovation.
Further information can be found at www.abus.com or by contacting ABUS UK.
Master Abrasives is pleased to announce the introduction of the new ZIPP Air Tools micro die grinder range to the UK, also known as pencil grinders.
The new ZIPP pencil grinders prove to have extremely low vibration results in real use test conditions, offering an affordable solution to companies trying to reduce the risk of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) in the workplace.
“We carried out a series of Hand Arm Vibration tests with the ZPD212 and two of the market leading pencil grinders from different brands for a true comparison." Andy Wright, National Sales Manager, explains, “The test results showed that the ZIPP pencil grinder had a lower vibration magnitude than the other two tools, proving that as well as getting value for money customers can benefit from low HAV levels when using the quality ZIPP tool range.”
The current list price of the ZIPP pencil grinder ZPD212 is £96.00, significantly lower than some alternative brands models in the market. It comes with the standard ZIPP warranty which is valid for a year after purchase (full terms online). By selecting low-vibration tools from the ZIPP range, companies can save costs and find an affordable solution for reducing the risk of HAVS in the workplace.
Aimed at: depending on the grade all the way up to demanding professionals
Pros: Made in Europe OSA approved for safety and ingenious design makes for good cutting performance.
To speak to some tradespeople it would seem that the most important thing about a diamond cutting disc is the price. Not the materials it was designed for cutting, not safety, not speed of cut nor the amount of noise it made. Now I am definitely keen on getting value for money, but I am also keenly aware of my safety and my time.
However, I do get a sense of satisfaction when I get a tradesperson come up and ask about a particular piece of kit and I am able to make the point that good kit, used well, can be safer and quicker, thus saving time and money, as well as making for happier clients.
Of course there is the sharp intake of breath when I tell them, for example, that my rail saw cost £500, but the message remains that sometimes, its not all about the price you pay – sometimes the bottom line needs a bit more sophistication when being calculated. It can be a case of penny wise but pound foolish.
Diamond cutting discs are squarely in the area of you “get what you pay for”. There are literally dozens of makes of cheap diamond discs on the market. They all vary enough in appearance and packaging for you to be vaguely able to tell the difference so that you can find them again. But my argument is that a good quality diamond disc, chosen with the job in mind, is more likely to perform well, save you time and minimise wear and tear on your disc cutting machine.
Enter the two diamond discs sent by major abrasives company, Klingspor. Established in Germany in 1893 by Johan Friedrich Klingspor to make a variety of abrasives, the company was behind the development of abrasive cut-off wheels and grinding discs in the 1950s and 60s. With manufacturing facilities in Europe, the US and Mexico, the company is one of the four largest abrasives companies in the world and produces a huge range of abrasives of many types – hence it has a lot riding on getting its products right both in terms of price and performance.
Klingspor makes a point of providing discs at three price points (good, better, best) to meet the needs of customers’ varying needs and its in-house R and D facility in Germany offers continuous review, development and improvement of its products. ALL of Klingspor’s diamond discs are Organisation for the Safety of Abrasives (oSa) accredited – the highest level of safety accreditation available.
I was sent two mid-range discs for review, a DT600U and a DT612AB. The DT600U is so designated because it is a mid-priced universal blade meant to be used on pretty well all construction materials from natural stone, to reinforced concrete and all stations in between. This blade has proved to be very successful in the market – not only because of its pricing but also because of its design – a design that makes for rapid cutting as well as a long disc life. Now normally, these two features would work against each other. Long disc life usually means having a slightly thicker blade and deeper segmentation of the blade. On the other hand, a thinner blade usually means a quicker cut because there is not so much dust to remove from the thinner kerf, but the thinner blade then wears more quickly. You can also make a blade last longer by making deeper segments, but that brings other issues into play like the safety of the weld of the segments onto the disc.
What Klingspor has managed to do with this blade is to strike the correct compromise between thickness and wear and the secret of this is in the design of the segments. This 300mm diameter disc has 32 segments squeezed onto its rim. Each individual segment is 10mm deep and it has 25mm deep gullets that are wider at the bottom, that slim down a bit before ending in a precisely drilled hole for reducing noise. The wider slot at the bottom allows dust to be shifted quickly from the cut. A look through a magnifier reveals a fairly close, but random, distribution of diamonds on the segments, but if you think that more diamonds always equals faster cutting, then you are wrong. You may not get optimum cutting if too many diamonds produce too much dust to shift from the cut and then cause clogging. But the key design feature is the number of segments on the rim – 32 segments with regular slots to disperse the waste quickly has proved to make a blade that not only cuts quickly, but lasts well too. By the end of my tests on steel, concrete, marble and bricks, I could barely see any sign of wear on the rim at all, promising a longer life – I still expect to be using this blade in a few month’s time.
The DT612AB disc is a more specialised design for use largely on concrete and asphalt and has been a hit with utilities, road repair contractors and general construction firms.
The one thing that is very obvious when looking at the segments of this blade is that the diamond distribution is much closer than the DT600U. The diamonds are also coated in titanium powder for maximum adhesion as asphalt and concrete are very aggressive and tend to tear away diamonds that are not tightly bonded. With eighteen larger segments and much larger open–ended gullets cut into the rim, it is clear that dust removal is one of the main aims of this design. Nothing for it but to mount it on the machine and try it out on some concrete and asphalt. Fortunately, I have a small asphalted area where I park my car, and I was struck by just how “clingy” asphalt can be when cutting, as the heat melts the tar and sort of gums it up. But the big gullets do their job and cutting is quite quick – if you are not careful you can go too deep quite quickly. Concrete is a doddle with this disc, no wonder road repair firms are buying it – it is perfect for cutting kerbstones. I know I had a relatively short time of testing, but the wear on the disc at the end was very small, meaning that I can use the disc on other jobs….
In the end, quality always wins out for me – I have proved to myself again and again that you get what you pay for. These Klingspor diamond discs, tick lots of boxes and I will certainly keep an eye out for them when I have worn these ones out.
Aimed at: demanding pro site carpenters who need a capable and hardworking saw.
Pros: big powerful, more sophisticated with a facility to collect more dust if needed.
Hitachi portable circular saws are renowned as the workhorses of the site. Tough, robustly made and expected to cut to the limits of spec when required - i.e. often. I have lost count of the numbers of battered Hitachi saws I have seen on various sites, but their owners always swear by them. The last one I observed was being used by roofers to cut fibre cement soffits and it was being worked very hard – but I was too polite to ask if they had fitted the correct blade!
The Hitachi C9U3 is a replacement for the C 9U2 and is definitely a sleeker and more modern take on the old one, and just a little bit heavier too. No doubt the extra weight is accounted for in a few extra features on the C9U3. So the changes are not just cosmetic – Hitachi has uprated the saw to make the genuine improvements needed for a newer model.
My first impression of the saw is that it is a bit of a monster – it weighs 7.2 Kgs all up. But it does handle well and with good balance, so the weight does not feel onerous. It is now common, thank goodness, to have a cast alloy base on saws like this and the Hitachi version is strong and rigid and with a big flat ground base that sits nicely on the work. It is finished in a dull grey alloy colour, like the upper and lower blade guards and it is genuinely smart looking and has the promise that it will be hardwearing too. A rigid base is easier to work with since it does not flex and makes cutting and saw adjustments more accurate.
Two other features of the base are the adjustable cutting line guides and the blade perpendicularity adjustment. The first of these is easy enough to use – it is just in the front of the base and is adjusted to the cutting line by unscrewing it and then resetting. At this point I should also mention that the side fence is attached to the front of the saw here. The side fence is made from pressed steel, but is more robust than some I have seen, so it will perform under pressure. It has milled slots on the back of the bar for extra grip as well as metric and imperial measurements on the top of the bar, so some accuracy must be expected from it.
More important on a site saw is that the blade should be perpendicular and that it should return to right angles when the users sets it back after an angled cut. Under the base, a grub screw can be adjusted to set the blade at right angles using an engineers’ square. Inaccuracies can creep in on site saws like this, so it is handy to be able to zero it occasionally.
The motor housing and handles are made in the familiar green Hitachi ABS plastic and both handles have generous black rubberised overmoulds to provide grip and some protection from vibration. Included in the kit, is an extra black plastic front handle that can be located underneath the main front handle with a single screw. This provides the user with a grip a little further away from the blade guards, but also lower in centre of gravity terms. This will help in difficult cuts where it is necessary to give a bit more push to the saw.
Both upper and lower blade guards are made from a well finished grey alloy and they are substantial and rigid to provide good protection from the 235mm diameter 20 tooth TCT blade. There is a substantial black riving knife to help prevent binding in the cut and the lower blade guard has a nicely gauged spring loading that is easy to use at the start of the cut as it is pushed into the work, but provides enough snap to get the blade covered asap after the cut is finished.
The upper blade guard also doubles as a dust collector and dust blower. A smallish vent at the back of it spews out a lot of dust when the saw is at full throttle. As we would now expect, there is a dust collection option. A strong black plastic spout can be attached (one screw) over the dust vent. This spout is ribbed so that a standard dust collection hose can be fitted over it. More importantly, with a decent vacuum dust collector attached, the amount of dust collected is very good – not much is left lying around. But you will still have to clean up later because there is no such thing as 100% dust collection on this type of portable saw.
If you do decide to use the dust collection spout you also have to change the little handle that lifts the lower blade guard. The original handle is large and keeps your fingers well away from the blade, but the dust spout handle is a lot smaller so you need to take a bit more care to keep fingers safe.
Just on the front of the upper guard a small plastic hump directs air from the motor fan directly over the cut line so that it remains dust free and easy to see – I do like this feature very much, perhaps I am getting spoilt?
Height and angle adjustments of the blade are really easy to do and the mechanisms for each adjustment are strong. I particularly liked the blade height adjustment arrangement because the substantial knob handle that sticks out under the main handle is easy to reach and grips strongly when tightened so that there is no danger that the saw will suddenly plunge down deeper into the cut. Another nice little touch is the cord holder function under the handle – this allows the user to loop a bit of the cord around the holder so that it can be kept out of the way when cutting.
But was the C9U3 a workhorse? Well I ran it repeatedly through some damp 100x75mm tanalised timber without it so much as a change in motor note. I moved on to some very dense beech and then some old and very twisty elm. Again no problems. In my view, this new version will build a reputation of its own as a robust and accurate site saw that will keep Hitachi aficionados happy and will also gain lots of new fans too.
Aimed at: Anyone who needs to move, load and lift stuff – single handed!
Pros: Simple to operate, capable and easily manoeuvrable.
Only yesterday I had to call on a friend to help me rearrange my workshop with the arrival of my new mortising machine. The old mortiser had to be dismantled from its base, re - crated and the new one installed in its place. With both machines weighing over 100kgs each, we had our work cut out to manoeuvre them into place. It took a couple of hours to achieve this safely and without straining our backs. Ironically, I could have achieved the same result in a quarter of the time if I had waited until this morning with my review of the Makinex Easy Lift 140
Looking like a cross between half a scissor lift and a barrow, the Makinex is a brilliant answer to the huge number of lifting operations that must take place in workplaces throughout the UK. So it is worthwhile to explore it in a bit more detail to get an idea of just how it works.
The main component is a simple chassis made of two rigid alloy extrusions that converge into the wheel structures. The wheels are large enough to run easily over rough surfaces and are placed far enough apart so that the Makinex will fit through a standard doorway. At the other end of this chassis is a pair of handlebars with a control on each side – on the left hand side is the wheel brake and on the right a simple switch for moving the lifting beam up and down. The alloy extrusion lifting arm is pivoted just in front of the handlebars and a simple Swiss-made ram powered by a standard 18v Makita battery pack, is used to lift the lifting arm. The lifting capacity is 140Kg and is therefore capable enough for a vast majority of daily lifting operations in industry and manufacturing. A pair of foldable jockey wheels hold the chassis at roughly the height of a pair of hands so that you don’t have to bend down to operate the machine.
I was fortunate to have a slick demonstration and some training and tips from Chris Cartwright from Morris Site Machinery before I was let loose on the Easy Lift 140.
In less than a couple of minutes – I timed it – Chris lifted a 86Kg machine from the road, moved it to the rear of the van, loaded the machine and then gently dropped it onto the van bed. With some very simple instruction, I was able to unload the machine again, gently lower it onto the road, unhook it and then repeat the loading process. It took me only slightly longer than Chris, which proves that even novices can soon make the Makinex work for them. And it felt safe and manageable – and you also get that slight feeling of “superpowers” as you lift a heavy machine with the press of a thumb on a small switch.
I thought I might have some difficulty locating the lifting hook onto the lifting ring on the target machine, but I managed it first time as the whole framework is so balanced on the wheels that fine and precision controlled movements are easy to perform.
There are lots of other advantages of the Makinex Easy Lift, apart from its lifting capabilities. It is really easy to maintain since moving parts are few, the whole thing folds flat and will fit easily into a standard van, and since it weighs only 40Kgs itself it is easy to handle. Chris single-handedly packed it into the van by making use of the balance of the machine and the jockey wheels so that he never had to lift the weight of it – he simply slid it into its correct position. In fact the hardest part of using the Easy Lift 140 seems to be to remember to charge the battery pack when needed.
The height of the lift has been carefully calculated so that it will easily reach the height needed for loading the average builder’s lorry. Loading up to tailgated vehicles is easy too because the scissor design allows the arm to reach past the tailgate onto the lorry bed – something not always possible when using a forklift to load up.
The target market for the Makinex Easy Lift 140 is potentially vast. I think it is a case that once potential clients have seen the Makinex in operation, the more thoughtful of them will see the advantages more or less immediately. They will see easy and controlled lifting, a lot more Health and Safety boxes ticked and efficiency savings. This machine can be used by everyone from a Scottish fisherman to unload his catch and load it onto the market van, to an automotive factory that needs temporary (or permanent) help with lifting components onto a production line. Chris tells me that once customers have bought the Makinex, they very quickly learn to apply its talents to a much wider range of lifting and moving tasks.
But maybe there is another aspect to using the Makinex that makes a lot more sense to employers. It costs British industry thousands, if not millions, to deal with the days off ill with bad backs and other lifting injuries that employees suffer with. Not to mention the injury claims that come to court, leading to an average of around a £5,600 payout to the injured party. Judicious and controlled use of lifting machinery can and should result in far fewer injuries and the Makinex is a cost effective, simple and reliable method of lifting heavy things.
If the Makinex makes sense for a self employed Scottish fisherman, it should make even more sense in factories, builders yards and building sites – and all for a price of less than £3,000 ish!