This article has been written for owners of lawn and landscape companies who are considering making the switch from pickup trucks with trailers to the all-in-one Super Lawn Truck.
Many of our first-time buyers are skeptical about the durability and the possible maintenance issues with the Hydra-Ramp®. Here’s the facts.
Do you currently own a truck or a car that has an electric starter? That is, you turn the key and the vehicle starts? Well, of course you do.
The question is how often do you have problems with that starter, because that’s exactly the key component of a hydraulically operated ramp. An electric motor operates the small hydraulic pump.
You have an electric starter right now on a vehicle. You already know that you have very few problems with it. Can it go out? Absolutely! Will it go out if you keep the vehicle for 10, 15, 20 years? Yes, it probably will. But how often will you use the starter to make your day go more quickly over and over and over again? (Henry Ford switched to an electric starter in 1919 on his Model T).
Electric starters are a proven, reliable product. They are used on vehicles, lawn mowers, generators, skid loaders, and almost anything with an internal combustion engine.
Second, there is a small hydraulic pump. This hydraulic pump is just like the hydraulic pump on your zero-turn lawn mower or on your skid loader. This pump is attached to the electric motor and only operates when the electric motor is engaged.
How often do you have problems with the hydraulic pump on your skid loader or on your zero-turn lawn mower? And the answer is… very few times. Can your hydraulic pump go bad? It absolutely, positively will. Over time, if you use that thing for 1,500, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 hours of operation, then yes… you will probably see a hydraulic pump go out over time.
Hydraulics move the world. You can’t fly on an airplane without the hydraulic systems that operate landing gear and wing adjustments for steering. Your skid loader, dump truck, snowplow, and all zero turn lawn mowers use hydraulics to make the equipment easy to use and very productive. And don’t forget this…your braking system on your vehicle is a hydraulic system. How reliable are your brakes?
But here’s the key difference in the use of our electric motor and our hydraulic pump on the Hydra-Ramp by Super Lawn Trucks.
The hydraulically operated loading ramp operates for 10 seconds at a time. It takes 10 seconds to go up or 10 seconds to go down. Operating for just 10 seconds at a time, the hydraulic fluid never heats up.
Hydraulic fluid in your zero-turn lawn mower or your skid loader that runs continuously for hours goes through heat. And heat breaks things down over time.
Since the Hydra-Ramp only operates for 10 seconds, it never goes through heat. And since this doesn’t go through heat, we don’t even recommend that you change the hydraulic fluids on our unit because the hydraulic fluid will not breakdown over time. Think about it like this. When you take your car (or truck) in for regular service, do they offer to change the brake fluid? Nope! It’s not necessary because the brake fluid never heats up!
Hopefully, you understand that the Hydra-Ramp has two key components that are proven to work in a wide variety of applications to make equipment easy to operate and very productive. Each of these components are durable and last for years with very little problems.
However, there are some issues that you need to consider.
Can you have a dead battery on your vehicle? And the answer is YES! You will have a dead battery more frequently than almost anything else that goes wrong with your vehicle (if you keep it for a while). Battery problems are most common when you go through periods of extreme cold, extreme heat, or you leave the lights on by accident.
And what do you do when you have a dead battery? You jump start it, you charge it, or you replace the battery.
Now, could you have a dead battery that affects your ability to let your electric/hydraulic ramp up and down? The answer is absolutely, positively, it’s possible. In this case, you would simply jump start the truck, charge the battery, or change the battery. You will deal with this issue if you own any vehicle. It’s pretty simple.
Next, there’s a hydraulic cylinder on the back of the truck. That hydraulic cylinder has a commercial duty rating for agricultural operations. As a matter of fact, our Hydra-Ramps have been working in the field since 1991. With decades of experience in the field, we can tell you most of the hydraulic cylinders we have installed are still operating 10 years after purchase. But just in case something goes wrong, our ramps have a 2-year parts replacement warranty.
Our commercial duty loading ramps are designed for lawn and landscape service companies that are going to make 10-20-30 stops a day. And the ramp and hydraulic components to stay in the field working reliably in the range of 10-15 years.
Let’s do some math together to help us understand how dependable the Hydra-Ramp can be.
Let’s say you make just 10 stops a day and you worked 250 days out of the year. Each stop requires you to let the ramp down when you arrive and then let it back up when you leave. This means you have 20 cycles per day. Here’s the math.
10 down cycles + 10 up cycles = 20 total cycles per workday
20 cycles per day x 250 workdays = 5000 cycles per year
5000 cycles per year x 10 seconds per cycle = 50,000 seconds of operating time per year
50,000 seconds per year / 60 seconds per minute = 833 minutes per year
833 minutes / 60 minutes per hour = 13.9 hours of operating time per year
Let’s say you keep the truck for 10 years.
13.9 hours per year x 10 years = 139 hours of operation
If your company makes 20 stops per day, your ramp operation time would double to 278 operating hours over 10 years.
If your company makes 30 stops per day, your ramp operation time would be 417 operating hours over 10 years.
You see, even guys who provide high-volume lawn care services, such as weed control and fertilization can rely on the hydra-ramp by Super Lawn Trucks for many years of reliable service.
How many hours can you operate your zero-turn mower, your ride-on sprayer-spreader, or your skid loader before you start having too many problems? 500 hours? 1000 hours? 1500 hours? 2000 hours? Or…much more?
So, what’s the likelihood that you have a problem with the hydraulic pump or hydraulic cylinder in 139 hours of use over a 10-year period? The answer is: very, very small.
It’s much more likely that you would have some type of an electrical problem. Like the battery goes dead on the vehicle. And you already know how to deal with that.
As you do your research and consider your options, there are a couple of other items to learn about.
The most frequent problem we respond to (based on parts sales each year) is damage to the push-button switch used to let the ramp up or down. A careless crew member could leave the push button control hanging out of the toolbox and drag it down the road damaging it.
Because we have seen this mistake happen repeatedly over the past few decades, we decided to build our push button controller with a quick disconnect coupling. This way, the push button controller could be swapped out in just a couple of minutes without any special tools. The push button controller is a low-cost part and can be shipped directly to you in the event you have a problem.
Could you have a problem with the hydraulic loading ramp by Super Lawn Trucks?
Yes, it’s possible. And we continue to figure out new ways to help our customers in the field. For example, we provide a scannable QR code near the controls for the hydra-ramp on every Super Lawn Truck we build. You scan the QR code with your smartphone and you are instantly connected to our troubleshooting guides.
You can purchase parts and supplies from our website 24 hours a day and have them shipped directly to your door (overnight in some cases). We offer phone support to our clients Monday – Friday 8 am to 5 pm.
In conclusion, you will not find a more durable loading ramp in the lawn and landscape industry. Our Hydra-Ramps are made of solid steel with rugged anti slip coatings put onto the ramp surface. This means that for the thousands of times that you walk in or drive in or walk out or drive out of the truck body, you have less exposure to slip and fall accidents.
Further, instead of lifting a heavy ramp with your back, thousands upon thousands of times, you will be pushing a button to let your ramp go up or down. Again, minimizing your exposure to the most frequent injury in the landscape business: back injury.
There are some risks involved with owning a mechanical device like your lawn mower, like your skid loader, and like our Hydra-Ramp, but your improvement in productivity will far exceed the risk that you may take on when you put that piece of equipment to work in your company.
We look forward to helping you get the right Hydra-Ramp system for your company and for your equipment loading needs.
We want to help you master the landscape business!