In an industry jam-packed with the newest, biggest and boldest machines, sometimes even the small but mighty ones can get overlooked. Rigger trucks may not come with the most advanced extensions or fanciest features, but they have managed to ‘keep on trucking’ consistently over the years. Best put by Nathan Dick, sales manager at Custom Mobile Equipment (CME), “Moving machinery is a game of inches, and having the right equipment to get the job done safely for customers is where repeat business comes from.” The reliability of this machine is unmatched, as the demand has remained steady in a sometimes-tumultuous marketplace.
“The current market conditions remain busy, we haven’t seen an increase in general demand but we have seen an increase in the capacity request,” said Eric Lavigne, production manager at HMS Lift Inc.
According to Rob Keelan, vice president, Doral Equipment Rental, the market seems to be gaining ground.
“Having the largest fleet of Versa-Lifts in the world means we are ready to meet increased demands as they happen,” said Keelan.
Dick said they have been seeing an increase in domestic orders making up 70 percent of sales in the last two years. “We’ve even seen new competition due to the high demand,” he said. “The growing market has led CME to improve upon and innovate while developing a new model of Versa-Lift, the 17/25. CME has also seen growth in some areas internationally, especially the Mexico territories, leading CME to gain Alvaro Rodriguez as a dealer in Mexico.”
Rodriguez, president of MPE Group, serves as the exclusive independent representative for Custom Mobile Equipment (Versa-Lift) in México, a newer and developing market for rigger trucks.
“Rigger trucks are not very common in México as in the U.S., so it is a relatively new way of doing machinery moves and installations,” said Rodriguez. “People are realizing it is a lot easier and more versatile than using a crane, therefore a rigger truck is gaining acceptance among these companies over the past few years.”
Rodriguez added that while there have been some issues with the economy lately, he is still seeing an increase in need.
“However, [rigger trucks] are getting more popular every year; the demand has been steadily increasing over this period of time and hopefully it will continue to grow in the upcoming years,” said Rodriguez.
But when it comes to what sets these simplistic machines apart, ACT talked to industry experts to see how rigger trucks measure up.
“A rigger truck is a category of machine that is designed specifically to move heavy loads smoothly and safely,” said Dick. “They are maneuverable and versatile with most of them utilizing a boom attachment for overhead lifting. CME designed and built the first Versa-Lift back in 1994 because of the need for fully engineered machines built for the machinery mover. With more emphasis on safety it was not good enough to have a standard forklift with a homemade boom doing the lifting in the larger manufacturing facilities.”
The 25/35 is ideal for lifting loads in tight quarters and can handle loads of 25,000 pounds with the base retracted or up to 35,000 pounds with the base extended.
According to Lavigne, “they are easy to move from job-to-job, with a width of 102 inches and lowered height of 118 inches. [They have] the ability to pass through a 10 by 10-foot door and can have a lift capacity of up to 160,000 pounds.”
He also noted that in the past, rigger trucks were prominently used by machinery movers, but nowadays they only make up 50 percent of sales. Now they are seen in manufacturing plants, stamping plants, transfer yards and steel yards and other job sites.
While CME mostly sells to machinery moving contractors, “We have also seen them in die-handling applications and a variety of special industries where moving precisely is a necessity,” said Dick. “We even built a 40/60 electric to handle containers of radioactive material on a nuclear decommission site.”
Lifting capacity is usually the main difference between rigger trucks compared to regular fork lifts. “The Versa-Lift models we carry have a very small footprint with major lifting capacity,” said Keelan. “We also rent remote control models which allow the forklift operator to be in the best position to see their project clearly.”
Alvaro Rodriguez (left) serves as the representative for Custom Mobile Equipment (Versa-Lift) in México. He is starting to see growth as people are realizing rigger trucks are more versatile than using a crane.
A versatile machine
Renting and selling Lift Systems’ mobile line since 1989, Riggers Manufacturing Company is no stranger to the unsung power of rigger trucks. Simply put, Ben Forster, vice president of Riggers Manufacturing Company, said that rigger trucks are just plain workhorses. They are popular because of their speed and efficiency, and boast a quick set-up time. However, there isn’t much glamor beyond that. While they aren’t always the go-to machine when it comes to more intricate jobs, the size and simplicity does not affect the constant need for these dependable and honest machines.
Custom Mobile Equipment builds four models of Versa-Lifts, two of which may be outfitted with electric motors. But when it comes to the latest and greatest of rigger trucks, Doral Equipment Rental offers the Electric Versa-Lift 25/35 and 40/60s.
“I believe we are the only rental company in the country that is renting these electric units,” said Keelan. “The Electric Versa-Lifts are very useful for food plants, clean rooms and nuclear facilities to name a few. We will also have the brand new Versa-Lift 17/25 available for rent in about a month. Featuring the wheelbase of 15,000 pounds this solid tire forklift can handle 25,000 pounds at a 24-inch load center. Triple stage direct lift gives 146 inches of lift while the boom operates up to 22 feet, 10 inches. A double column boom and mast combined with a center positioned driver seat gives the operator superior visibility.”
HMS Lift Inc. has not released any new products lately, but this doesn’t mean they have been sitting idle. Lavigne said that they are improving the current product.
“Our Brute Lift makes an excellent addition to any successful fleet,” said Lavigne. “It is a versatile machine that is easy to move, can drive through a 10-foot doorway with a large capacity able to handle most jobs. And with the boom or the forks, it is able to lift and carry heavy loads with ease.”
Both Lavigne and Keelan echoed the sentiment that the need for heavier capacity lifts will continue to trend upwards. According to Forster, it does take a while for the technology to increase dramatically. “But that doesn’t make the current rigger trucks on the market any less valuable,” he said.
While rigger trucks may not be as extravagant as other rigging equipment, this machine has staying power.