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Doing the Dirty Work

Wheel Jackets Create Barriers Against Unsightly Scuffs and/or Messy Spills

Doing the Dirty Work

Picture an indoor jobsite — heavy machines are crawling across shiny, brand new floors, with each turn of the tires leaving a seemingly endless amount of tedious clean-up work for some poor soul.

With all of this talk about all-electric, compact and high-tech lifts, it’s important to remember that more than 60% of lifts working on job sites across the country are still powered by internal combustion engines (ICE).

Despite the growing popularity of electric aerial work platforms, the country still relies heavily on proven ICE-powered lifts, and while electric lifts offer long-term cost savings and environmental benefits, the use of dirty, loud and large lifts is still widespread.

As more work moves indoors, large lifts with rubber tires, messy fluids and toxic emissions make operating these lifts in controlled environments challenging.

Midwest-based Wheel Jackets makes tire covers, bibs and containment systems for lifts that operate indoors, providing a safeguard against unsightly scuffs and/or messy spills that can snarl productivity and present safety issues.

Owner and founder Sean Anetsberger got the idea for Wheel Jackets in 2017 while working at a rental company right after graduating college.

“Being on job sites and talking to contractors about what they need every day laid the groundwork for Wheel Jackets,” Anetsberger recalled to Lift and Access. “While developing the product line, my goals were to make a durable product at a fair price.”

The line of tire cover products made by Wheel Jackets were used by contractors at Tesla and Intel facilities, and fit every lift available. These wheel covers create a barrier that shields finished surfaces from tire scuff marks while also reducing maintenance and cleaning time after the job. In addition to protection and reduced wear and tear on the tires, they also reduce reliance on harsh cleaning chemicals, unnecessary water usage and the endless amount of time spent scrubbing unsightly black marks off those shiny concrete floors.

The Rise of Aerial Work in Controlled Environments

In addition to working in fancy venues with expensive floors, mobile aerial work platforms (MAWPs) are also needed in controlled environments like laboratories, cleanrooms or freezers filled with food. These facilities are designed to maintain specific temperatures, humidity and cleanliness. As industries continue to advance, the need for versatile lifts in these controlled spaces has grown exponentially.

The all-electric lift segment is growing at the fastest rate in the industry, but it’s still less than 40% of the lifts used in the country. While ICE-powered lifts are indispensable thanks to their versatility, power and extended operating time, they present unique challenges operating in these hyper-controlled environments.

In addition to tire covers, Wheel Jackets also makes fluid containment systems. These systems are used to capture and contain leaks, spills and drips from hydraulic fluids, oils and fuel. In environments where any fluid spill can pose risks to operations, worker safety and can scuttle environmental compliance efforts, these systems are indispensable safeguards.

“Every lift working in pretty much any condition can use our products,” Anetsberger said. “High-end hotels, sports arenas, data centers —  just think of any place with that nice, finished concrete.”

The need for surface protection and fluid containment on ICE-powered lifts goes beyond regulatory compliance; it intersects with operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness, where downtime can be just as costly as accidents, so preventing both is key.

These protective measures not only mitigate risks and ensure uninterrupted operations but also contribute to cost savings in the long run by preventing damage to surfaces, reducing maintenance requirements for the equipment and minimizing hazardous fluid leaks.

Innovations Driving the Future

Anetsberger took a scientific approach to developing the Wheel Jackets product line, including abrasion tests on nearly every available type of material.

“Nothing was out there at a fair price that also provided the durability we needed,” Anetsberger recalled. “So we tested hundreds of materials and finally found one that was at the right price and durable.”

As industries continue to innovate, so do the solutions available for safeguarding these sensitive worksites from dirty intruders. Builders and rental companies alike can use these products to safeguard their project timelines and equipment; comply with safety and environmental regulations, and even contribute to stewardship while maximizing efficiency and productivity in these indoor environments.

Adding Value to Existing Equipment

Anetsberger sees his products as more than simple accessories; they’re also practical solutions that can give a rental company a competitive edge.

“My main customers are rental companies,” he said. “They’re always trying to find ways to add value to their equipment, protecting the equipment and by reducing cleanup while also protecting the surfaces the equipment works on.”

In addition to their protective benefits, tire covers like Wheel Jackets offer practical advantages in terms of post-project cleanup. Once the job is done, the seemingly endless job of scrubbing the rubber marks, removing tire residue left behind and cleaning the equipment begins. However, Wheel Jackets make cleanup manageable and less time-consuming, allowing for quicker turnaround times and minimizing disruptions to future rental obligations.

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Allen P. Roberts Jr.

Allen P. Roberts Jr.

Senior Writer

Catalyst

Lift & Access is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.