The RER Innovative Product Award was established in 2003 to honor excellence in new product development in the equipment rental industry. This year the award showcases the most innovative products introduced between Aug. 1, 2006 and July 31, 2007.

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A panel of 12 industry experts was selected and they were asked to narrow the pool of entries to one winner in each of the 11 categories. The panelists were asked to refrain from voting in categories in which they had any partial interest. Then the panel was asked to select the product they felt was the most innovative in respect to the rental business from the 11 category winners. One product was named the Grand Award Winner with an overwhelming majority of the votes.

Thanks to all of the companies who entered products in this year's Innovative Product Award competition. Following are the grand winner and the products that won their respective categories. All non-winning entries will be featured in the January and February 2008 issues of RER. For additional information on the Innovative Product Award winners and the panel of judges visit www.rermag.com.

Grand Winner

Engines/Power Sourcing

Power Shifter rapid-change engine-mounting system Nascent Design, Bardonia, N.Y.

Key innovation: System adapts a single engine for swapping between multiple machines, requiring no tools and taking less than 30 seconds.

Saving time and money are likely to be at the top of each and every rental company owner's wish list this holiday season. Whether it be in how they run their business with rental management solutions or in the equipment and attachments they rent to their customers, owners are looking for the most innovative products to increase the bottom line in their bank statements and grow and maintain their businesses. Equipment manufacturers continue to rise to the challenge by producing and offering products and solutions that are designed to reduce costs and time spent on service or maintenance.

Nascent Design, Bardonia, N.Y., introduces the Power Shifter rapid-change engine-mounting system designed to quickly switch an engine from one machine to another without using any tools. Engines can be swapped between seasonal machines, even stored separately; and failed engines can be immediately replaced yielding maximum reliability. The ability to switch engines quickly without tools obviously saves time. The financial savings comes from needing only to service and maintain a certain number of engines instead of a dedicated engine for every piece of equipment in the rental company's fleet.

Before the introduction of the Power Shifter at the 2006 Lawn & Garden EXPO in Louisville, Ky., most power equipment came with its own engine bolted to the machine frame or chassis for the life of the unit or the life of the engine. The forward-thinking aspect of this product is that rental company owners can choose to buy one engine for multiple machines, lowering initial costs and operating expenses, and minimizing downtime. A useful analogy is how the battery pack revolutionized the hand-held power tool market.

“In the early days of cordless electrical power tools, the battery was also mounted on the machine without the ability to swap it out,” says Mark Behrens, president of Nascent Design and inventor of the Power Shifter. Operators are now accustomed to swapping a battery pack between hand-held power drills and saws. The Power Shifter is also designed to provide convenience by switching power sources from one unit to the next.

Behrens, a mechanical engineer with industrial experience in design and manufacturing, came up with the idea for the product after realizing that as a homeowner, he could only operate one piece of equipment at a time, yet he owned a half dozen machines, each of which needed to be maintained with regular oil changes, fuel checks and repairs. “It seemed wasteful to have multiple, almost identical, engines on several machines at the same time, all but one being idle on any given task,” said Behrens. “I thought that a more sensible approach would be to use one engine across a whole range of machines.” Behrens also holds four patents on other inventions and has filed for patent protection on the Power Shifter and related designs.

This idea can be taken from Behrens' homeowner perspective and directly implemented into the rental industry. Unless there is a national disaster or major snowstorm, a rental company is unlikely to have every single piece of equipment out on rent. “For example, if you have a rental fleet with 50 mid-power, horizontal shaft engines, you may only have half of those out in the field at any one time, which means you own and maintain more engines than you actually need,” says Behrens.

The Power Shifter system is available for virtually all 3- to 10-hp horizontal shaft equipment, including cement mixers, power trowels, leaf blowers, log splitters, generators and welders, snow throwers, de-thatchers, core-aerators, chipper-shredders, paint sprayers, pressure washers, air compressors, water pumps, edgers, tillers, roofing machines, tampers and more. It bolts directly onto the chassis of many machines with few changes; for others a simple retrofit platform can be added to existing designs. This engine-mounting system is installed at the OEM level onto machines for the rental industry. Visit www.powershifter.us to learn more.

With the system, servicing engines is made easier as well, Behrens says. The Power Shifter Service Stand uses the same mounting system to hold the engine at workbench height, giving mechanics complete access all around the engine. The free-standing system also allows engines to be stored on shelves.

In the world of rental, machines are rented according to the needs of customers depending on the time of year and the job application. This demand can transfer to engine use as well. Fall calls for leaf blowers; snow blowers are required in the winter; and pressure washers in the spring. The same engine can be transferred between all three machines and can be maintained quickly between each use.

The most important key to a successful rental experience for a customer is the reliability of the machine. If an engine doesn't start, the inactive machine can cost a client time and money waiting for an engine repair. Again, the Power Shifter allows rental customers to get back to work by swapping out the bad engine with one that starts. “We've heard from many sources that problems arise on the job when an engine goes down, for example, on a cement mixer — idling a crew or jeopardizing time-sensitive material,” says Behrens. “In these applications, reliability is everything and a rental professional can even offer a backup rapid-change engine using the Power Shift system. The ability to provide a backup engine in critical rental situations can be a competitive edge for a rental company, and provide a new marketing tool.”

“Engines can be swapped out from one machine to another to meet a seasonal or specific need, to rectify an engine failure, to facilitate service or maintenance, or to store the most valuable piece of a machine in a secure and sheltered environment,” says Behrens. “Just being able to rapidly and conveniently swap engines between machines has the potential to reduce overall equipment costs for the rental professional and to extend brand loyalty for equipment manufacturers.”

2007 Innovative Product Awards

Innovative Product Award Judging Panel Bios

Since 1992, Dave Griffith has been president and CEO of Modern Group Ltd, a holding company based in Bristol, Pa. Modern has interests in the material handling, industrial distribution and services, power generation, construction, rental and municipal industries. Griffith is currently a director of the company. In addition, he served as president of the Material Handling Equipment Dealers Association in 2005.

Gary Stansberry is a partner in the consulting firm of Hageman, Stansberry & Associates. HS&A specializes strictly in the rental industry, offering mergers, acquisitions and valuation services. Stansberry formerly served in executive positions within the mergers and acquisitions department of two of the largest rental industry consolidators. Prior to his acquisition experience, Stansberry founded and sold two successful businesses including a rental operation.

Kevin Rodgers is CEO and founder of Delta Rigging & Tools, a Gulf Coast hoist and rigging company started in 2004, and 24/7 Studio Equipment, a specialty rental company serving the entertainment industry started in 2006. In 1996, Rodgers founded National Equipment Services, a national rental company headquartered in Chicago. Rodgers was CEO of Brambles Equipment Services, from 1990 to 1996.

Jack Lockwood is currently the director of sales with Allmand Bros., a manufacturer of mobile floodlighting systems, compact tractor loader backhoes, traffic control arrowboards and breathable air space heaters. He is a 38-year veteran of the construction equipment industry involved in sales and marketing with several manufacturers covering a wide range of products.

Lynne Woodworth is president and CEO of Stone Construction Equipment and has held a variety of senior management positions during her 25-year career with the company. Woodworth serves on the Association of Equipment Manufacturers board of directors and executive committee, and is chair of the customer equipment advisory board.

John Michael Paz is president of Godwin Pumps and has worked with Godwin since 1978. In 1985, Paz assumed the role of president. He opened the first Godwin Pumps rental office in 1990 in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Jim Layton is starting his 25th year running Wacker's marketing communication department. Layton served on the exhibitor committees of World of Concrete, AED's Condex and ARA's The Rental Show as well as serving a term as a board member of the American Rental Association.

Jess Held is the marketing communications manager for Vermeer, Pella, Iowa. Held joined Vermeer in 1999 and is responsible for the world-wide marketing communications efforts for the rental markets Vermeer serves.

With more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry, Torsten Erbel currently is the director of product management at Multiquip Inc. in Carson, Calif.

Erin Whitehead is managing editor of Lift and Access magazine. She previously served for three years as the associate editor of RER.

Greg Rostberg is Bobcat Co.'s marketing manager for the rental markets in both Canada and the United States. He manages all marketing activities to the rental industry for the organization.

Marty Silverman, vice president of marketing for General Pipe Cleaners, has more than 25 years of experience in the drain-cleaning industry.

2007 Innovative Product Award Category Winners

Computer Software

Electronic Signature technology
Orion Software, Quebec, Canada

Key innovation: The ability to take the “rental counter” on the road to perform business directly at a client's site and to eliminate paper.

Rental operations require a lot of paper, especially for documents that require a signature and filing a signed copy. The rental contract binds the customer to the terms and conditions of the rental and confirms the pick-up of the equipment by a specific person. Sending a signed copy of a contract to the customer's accounting department is a long process. With Orion Software's Electronic Signature technology, one can eliminate paper contracts, archive the signed documents electronically and send signed copies of contracts by fax or e-mail. This access is no longer limited to the central office. Now, salespersons or managers at remote locations can produce and obtain access to these signed documents. Orion's Sirius Pro Rental Software maintains and archives all copies of signed documents.
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Concrete-Working Equipment

Heavy-duty Pavement Breaker (D25980K)
DeWalt, Baltimore, Md.

Key innovation: Offers 61 foot-pounds of impact energy, which, according to the manufacturer, is 42-percent higher than its leading competitor.

The D25980K is equipped with metal, automotive-style seals on the ram and piston that help to prevent dust and debris from entering the unit, ensuring a longer life. The soft-start system allows the breaker to begin breaking as soon as the tool comes into contact with concrete, preventing the unit from “walking.” The D25980K is a hard-hitting electric breaker offering 61 foot-pounds of impact energy, which allows it to handle thicker concrete. Engineered to provide users with 65-percent less vibration (at 6.6 meters per second squared), the D25980K has a patent-pending SHOCKS active vibration control system, which combines shock-mounted rubber-coated handles with a counter-balance mechanism.
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Cutting/Drilling

DPC 8112 16-inch Power Cutter
Makita USA, La Mirada, Calif.

Key innovation: An advanced air filtration design filters/cleans air in five different stages prior to entering the engine for increased performance.

Makita's 16-inch industrial power cutter is designed for cutting concrete, steel, angle iron, brick/masonry and asphalt. The saw has increased power-to-weight ratio, and has a five-stage advanced-directional-airflow filtration system for cleaner air, better performance and longer product life. The saw weighs 23.9 pounds, and is equipped with four anti-vibration mounts for smoother performance. It features a reinforced aluminum blade guard with a 70-degree range of positioning using a marked knob handle. The cutting arm position changes from center position to flush (outboard) position, which allows cuts directly adjacent to curb edges, walls or above the ground. The improved exhaust emissions are EPA Phase II-compliant while maintaining power and performance.
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Earthmoving Equipment

CX210B Series Excavator
Case Construction Equipment, Racine, Wis.

Key innovation: Improved and tightened hydraulic components that allow the unit to take full advantage of hydraulics and reduce waste.

Case Construction Equipment introduces the CX210B excavator that delivers a 20-percent increase in fuel efficiency and a 17-percent increase in horsepower compared with the previous model, thanks to the new electronically controlled, common rail Tier 3-certified engine. This engine burns cleaner and more efficiently, yielding 157 net hp. Increased hydraulic flow has improved cycle times. The machine also provides increased breakout forces, primarily due to larger-diameter hydraulic cylinders. The cab on the CX210B offers improved operator comfort and ergonomics. The noise levels inside the cab are 68.6 dBa.
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Generators/Welders

Flip-Hood Generator
Magnum Products LLC, Berlin, Wis.

Key innovation: A design that addresses serviceability and transportability.

Magnum Products introduces the patent-pending, Flip-Hood/Flip-Tongue generator models MMG 35FH and MMG 55FH. The generator's two access hoods flip wide open to allow for unobstructed accessibility to the generator's internal components. The front, service hood flips open to allow daily operator checks and routine maintenance. The back hood flips open to provide access to the generator end and electrical connections. The unit features control panel access with one centralized location of all electrical connections and wiring. Magnum's Flip-Tongue trailer design flips up decreasing the overall length of the trailer to 100 inches long permitting cross-trailer loading for shipment, and 40- to 45-percent freight reduction costs.
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Lawn and Garden Equipment

420sx Vibratory Plow
Ditch Witch, The Charles Machine Works, Perry, Okla.

Key innovation: The ground-following capability of the vibratory plow gives more accurate installations in the most uneven terrain.

The Ditch Witch 420sx vibratory plow exclusively features a dual-speed attachment drive. With two speeds, the operator can adapt to changing ground conditions, whether plowing or trenching. The 420sx is designed to closely follow the contour of the ground, which helps the attachment maintain a constant plowing depth on uneven terrain. The 420sx can run a Roto Witch boring attachment and trencher. The operator's console moves with the operator when the machine's frame articulates, so the controls are always in the same place in relation to the operator. Another exclusive feature is its fold-down ROPS, which enables the unit to operate under tree limbs, eaves and other low-hanging obstacles.
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Lifts

Z-40/23N Articulated Boom
Genie Industries, Redmond, Wash.

Key innovation: Features technology common on industrial forklifts, but relatively new to the aerial work platforms market, that allows for better machine control for maximum productivity, less drain on the batteries for extended life and longer intervals between charging.

Designed for “up, out and over” applications, the Genie Z-40/23N articulated boom offers contractors a profile of 4 feet, 11 inches wide to fit through standard-sized double doors. The Z-40/23N features a maximum clearance of 21 feet, 3 inches; a maximum working height of 46 feet, 5 inches; and a maximum horizontal reach of 22 feet, 8 inches. The boom features a multi-function control system that allows operation of several machine functions at once — from raise, lower and rotate to extend, steer and drive. It also features Genie's new AC drive system, combining DC batteries with 3-phase AC drive motors for quiet, energy-efficient operation and continuous control of drive speed, braking and turning.
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Material Handling

PS 3500H Site Dumper (and PS4000H)
Terex Corp., Westport, Conn.

Key innovation: The unit features a swivel bucket that gives the operator more precise unloading of material and ability to drive into more confined areas and unload the material to the side while cutting down on labor costs.

Terex PS3500H and PS4000H site dumpers are designed to give the operator improved visibility for moving materials including dirt, concrete and fertilizer. These units possess four-wheel drive, articulated steering capabilities and increased versatility — allowing loads to be rotated 180 degrees from side to side and tipped to accurately place a load. The PS3500H can handle a heaped capacity of 2.4 cubic yards and a maximum payload capacity of 7,716 pounds. The PS4000H has the capability to haul a maximum payload of 8,818 pounds with a heaped capacity of 3.3 cubic yards. A Kubota V2203 43.2-hp diesel engine powers both units. Both models meet Tier-2 emission requirements.
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Miscellaneous

Dryvex MC5200
Ground Heaters, Spring Lake, Mich.

Key innovation: By reducing the drying time to 2 to 3 days, the unit helps to reduce secondary damage such as mold or bacteria growth and reconstruction costs.

The Dryvex MC5200 is a portable dehumidification unit that can be pulled by a one-ton truck. The unit features a heat-based drying system that uses clean, outside air, conditioned to a low relative humidity of 5 to 15 percent. The dry air is blown into the wet structure via flexible duct work. The dry air absorbs the moisture from the wet contents in the structure. Then a second return blower accelerates the drying process by extracting moisture-laden air. It can take 170,000 cubic feet of saturated space from 90-percent relative humidity to below 15 percent in the two- to three-day period before secondary damage from mold and bacteria growth can begin.
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Power Tools

BH 24 Gasoline Breaker
Wacker Corp., Menomonee Falls, Wis.

Key innovation: Features an optimized percussion system and upper housing vibration-dampening system, which increases the breaker's impact energy and reduces the vibrations to the operator's entire body.

Wacker's BH 24 gasoline breaker has been re-engineered to increase power and reduce hand-arm vibrations by up to 50 percent. Packaged together with Wacker's own EPA-certified 2-cycle engine, the BH 24 brings a hard-hitting breaker. This design focuses around an optimized percussion system that increases power and reduces vibrations. The piston and striker have a reconfigured shape, reducing the striker's weight to increase its velocity, which results in higher impact energy. The striking mechanism directly hits the tool, reducing the amount of vibration that returns to the operator. Also contributing to the reduced vibration is Wacker's patented vibration-damping protective housing, which isolates the entire upper housing.
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