Selecting Cargo Equipment

July 1, 2003

Understanding your operations will help in selecting the right cargo equipment to better serve your customers, writes Michelle Garetson.

June/July 2003

While spec sheets and price lists are important to review when choosing cargo equipment, it is equally important to have a thorough understanding of your operations' requirements and customer needs before submitting a purchase order.

Wasp Inc., headquartered in Glenwood, MN began business in 1979 in the design and manufacture of ground support equipment, offers some points to ponder when evaluating and selecting cargo handling equipment.

John Silver, vice president of GSE Sales; Don Wiener, GSE Customer Service - Warranty & Technical Support; and Kevin Hanson, GSE Sales sat down recently with Ground Support Magazine to share how best to assess your equipment needs in order to better serve your customers.

Self Assessment
The group offered up several questions to ask yourself when selecting cargo handling equipment such as cargo dollies, baggage carts, belt loaders, pallet loaders, etc. that are featured in the sidebar at left.

Silver adds that airport infrastructure may dictate as to what type of equipment will work or won't work. "Not knowing the width of the doorway that your equipment needs to clear can produce a problem," he says.

Features and Benefits
When assessing the many products on offer from various manufacturers and vendors, it is important to consider things like safety and ergonomic features; ease of use and maintenance, as well as service after the sale. What sort of technical support and training will you get from your supplier?

"We use SAE, IATA, and OSHA requirements and recommendations when we design GSE" says Wiener, "and we work very closely with engineering groups at airlines regarding specific equipment for specific functions."

Silver adds, "We try to keep maintenance simple. By using as few parts as possible, it cuts down on maintenance events and also prevents many FOD [Foreign Object Debris] incidents."

The group stressed the importance of equipment inspection and preventative maintenance to keep operations running smoothly and offered these maintenance points:

  • Check the wheel hubs. The biggest enemy is the plastic shrink wrap used for cargo.
  • Check the hitch and springs - should be done each time before it's used.
  • Check tire wear.
  • Check that all container stops are functioning properly.
  • Check the brakes.
  • Check the tow bar integrity by inspecting the towing eye and bolts.

After you have evaluated how your equipment needs to be used and under what conditions, you'll have a more solid approach in servicing your customers.

Customer Service
When interacting with customers, the group gave this reminder - Be proactive and ask questions - rather than take the order and send out the invoice, because it might not be the right fit for the situation. Customers will appreciate the extra time and attention.

"Whether it's selling equipment, or just answering a question, that's servicing the customer," says Wiener.

"You have to understand what the customer is trying to do," says Wiener. "Our customers include operations managers and purchasing agents who may or may not have much experience in choosing equipment. That's why it's so important for us to ask the right questions to help the customer evaluate their needs fully as well as what environment this equipment will be operating in."


Wasp Inc.
Box 100, East Hwy. 55
Glenwood, MN 56334 USA
(320) 634-5885 o (320) 634-5881

SAE International (World Headquarters)
400 Commonwealth Drive
Warrendale, PA 15096 USA
(724) 776-4841

International Air Transport Association (IATA)
800 Place Victoria, PO Box 113
Montreal, Quebec H4Z 1M1 Canada
(514) 874-0202 o (514) 874-9632

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210 USA