When the company’s mission is ergonomics, ideas for new products are produced to ease workers’ load. “A full 5-gal pail can weigh more than 50 lb, so we couldn’t help but notice that the routine manual handling of these pails is a cause of fatigue, back strain, and other musculoskeletal disorders,” says Aaron Lamb, general manager of Lift’N Buddy. “We saw a need for a new, easy-to-use lifter/transporter that would eliminate these problems.”
NED: How is this lifter/transporter different from similar products?
AL: There is nothing else like it. The Pail Partner’s innovative yoke securely holds a plastic or metal pail just below its rigid collar. The yoke can be easily raised or lowered as necessary to conveniently pick up stacks of up to three pails and relocate them to another stack, to a floor, to a shelf, to a vehicle’s tailgate, etc. With a traditional hand truck, the user has to lift every pail to load/unload it. In contrast, the Pail Partner has a battery-powered lift that effortlessly adjusts to the appropriate height to pick and place pails. A push button linear actuator ensures smooth lifting and lowering to minimize bending and stretching. Most other small, powered stackers have straddle legs that get in the way if the user wants to pick up a heavy pail from a table, shelf, or even a pallet, so the lack of such legs is another advantage of the Pail Partner, which, by the way, works equally well for case-packed goods when its hinged metal platform is flipped down over the yoke.
NED: What problems needed to be addressed during the development process
AL: We had to make sure the unit could access pails on a floor, table, or shelf as easily as it could pick up pails on a pallet. This is the problem with other stackers and trucks, but we overcame it.
NED: How long did it take from conception to final production?
AL: About six months.
NED: Who do you consider your target audience to be and what benefits will they realize from using this product?
AL: For such a versatile invention, the target audience is a wide one. Whether in a store’s paint department; a food, chemical, or pharmaceutical processing plant; or a distribution center, the Pail Partner’s stable, 4-wheel counterbalanced design makes it easy to move pails to and from racks, pallets, countertops, paint tinters/shakers, delivery trucks, customer vehicles, etc., with little chance of strain or injury. The unit can carry loads of up to 200 lb and place them on surfaces up to 35 in. high. With heavy-duty 10-in. “flat-free” tires in front and swivel casters in back for maneuverability, the Pail Partner rolls over floors, rugs, and parking lots. Lifting power is from a 12-v battery that is maintenance-free and has an on-board charger. In narrow aisles and crowded warehouses, the compact Pail Partner requires no more room to operate than an ordinary 2-wheel hand truck and can turn a complete circle within its footprint.