Sinking floor solves loading problems

UK-based Consignia approves new hydraulic and suspension technology to make light work of heavy lifting.

A UK company has developed a hydraulic loading system for vans that is designed to reduce back injuries. It believes clearance of the system for use by postal workers marks a major commercial breakthrough.

After months of tests Consignia – formerly the Post Office – has placed the Razorback-modified Fiat Ducato on its list of approved vehicles, clearing the way for internal buyers to order the vehicle.

Razorback uses patented hydraulic and suspension technology to modify a range of light commercial vehicles, allowing their entire rear load-bearing area to be lowered to ground level.

No special equipment

This allows loads weighing up to one tonne to be wheeled on and off without the need for manual lifting, ramps or other special equipment.

The Leamington Spa firm claims the system reduces the chances of delivery workers suffering back problems while loading and unloading – and the likelihood of costly personal injury claims against employers.

Razorback has signed licensing deals with manufacturers including Fiat and Volkswagen to produce modified versions of their light commercial vehicle range.Early users of the system include a motorcycle recovery company and A-Plant, a large plant hire firm.

Now Razorback hopes Consignia’s approval will pave the way for widespread use of its vehicles by postal workers in the UK.

Alan Copley, Razorback’s operations manager, said that Consignia is considering using Razorback vehicles to serve rural areas. Delivery staff equipped with wheeled trolleys would be dropped off at villages around the route to make their deliveries before being picked up later.

But Copley said one of the most obvious applications of the system – its use on vehicles transporting the infirm or wheelchair-bound – could still be some way off.’We are aware of its potential in that area, but it is not currently certified as a person carrier,’ said Copley.

’The focus has been developing it as a load carrier and to go beyond that would require significant extra resources.’

Most promising

However, Copley said Razorback might consider licensing the system to a specialist in the area that wished to carry out further research and development.

The Razorback system originated in Australia, but the engineers who developed it decided that Europe – with its huge number of light commercial vehicles – was its most promising market.

The company faces bigger problems entering the US market because the system is only suitable for use with front-wheel drive vehicles, which are rare in north America.Instead it plans to develop a Razorback trailer for use across the Atlantic.

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