Part 1: Designing and Building Mobile Trailers
When it comes time for a utility company to replace a mobile support trailer, there are two options.
- Option one: Buy an empty trailer and take it to several different upfitters to install what they need in it.
- Otion two: Choose one upfitter who will not only supply the trailer but also everything that goes inside, from the storage to the HVAC to the electrical to the power supply.
The challenge with option one is caused by having multiple upfitters install separate components, as they might not work together seamlessly, and if issues arise, each upfitter may point at the other as the culprit. With option two, however, those problems don’t come into play because there is only one upfitter working on the project.
Surprisingly, there are only a handful of ‘one-stop-shop’ trailer upfitters out there, and EZ STAK is one of them.
One of the reasons why EZ STAK has been so successful in this niche market is due to the company’s consultative process, says Paul Lawrenson, EZ STAK’s director of business development. “Fleet managers usually know they need a trailer, but there are a lot of moving parts to the process,” he says. “So when the opportunity arises, we roll up our sleeves and get in there. We take the time to understand what the trailer is going to be used for, who’s going to use it and what it’s going to be carrying. We think about weight and power capacities as well as tool requirements. We also consider what kind of vehicle is going to be towing it and what kind of climate it’s going to be working in. We put a lot of thought into ergonomics and safety.”
K-Line Group: One trailer, many moving parts
In the summer of 2016, K-Line was ready to convert their 22-foot trailer into a mobile workshop, but they ran head-on into one a familiar problem: trying to buy components from different suppliers and make them fit seamlessly together inside a single trailer.
“They were going to try to piece together their own trailer with toolboxes, shelves, a workbench, cabinets, from one of these industrial catalogues,” says Lawrenson. “And when I met with them, they were getting frustrated and didn’t know how they were going to lay it out.” So, I offered to take the dimensions of the trailer, along with all of the users’ input, and come back with a three-dimensional concept of his recommendations.
And what he came back with was a concept of a trailer with fully-insulated and polyurethaned walls and ceilings, an electrical panel and shore power capabilities, and a long maple workbench where K-Line could mount a drill press and a vice. It also had drawer units, overhead cabinets, closets with perforated doors and even a whiteboard in the office area near the front.
According to K-Line’s fleet manager, K. Wetzel, they really liked what they saw. “So I said, ‘Look, we don’t want to just provide the design and the cabinets, we want to do the job, too,’” says Lawrenson. “‘We want to take delivery of the trailer, do the work, and send it back to you ready to put to work in exactly the way you need it.’ And they thought that was a good idea.”
But first, Lawrenson reviewed K-Line’s needs again with Wetzel and the various user groups at K-Line to ensure they’d all be happy with the final trailer. They came back with a few minor tweaks that included the addition of a couple of doors and a change to the depth of the drawers to accommodate all of their tools. They also added racks in the back to secure tanks, fuel cans and a generator.
With the final design in hand, the EZ STAK crew got to work at the company’s facility on the outskirts of Kingston, ON. As with all of their projects, they used EZ STAK’s own standardized products, including cabinets and drawers made of lightweight and high-grade aluminum. These drawers also come with heavy-duty ball bearing drawer slides and the company’s EZ Latch mechanism, which allows technicians to easily open a drawer with one hand.
Ten days later, the trailer was ready for delivery to K-Line. Wetzel and his team could not have been happier with the final result.
In a written statement, Wetzel said, “We weren’t sure how we would design the layout of our mobile work trailer, but EZ STAK helped us lay out and utilize every inch of space. We were amazed and ultimately very pleased with the quality and workmanship of their modular interior storage solutions. Would we recommend EZ STAK? Absolutely.”
It was a successful project for a number of different reasons, says Lawrenson. “We worked well with the customer and were adaptable, especially with a user-supplied trailer — which always means you have to be a little bit nimbler than if we were to supply the trailer. It also showed that we can hit tight deadlines. Ten days is pretty quick, but we had a lot of the components ready to go ahead of time, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.”
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Photos of Kline Trailer