Weight and space are precious commodities on almost any vocational truck. You can always use more payload capacity and storage space. For those of you who need a welder, generator and compressor on your truck, a multipurpose unit can offer several advantages that address these concerns.
“Combination units have grown and continue to grow in popularity,” says Dean Strathman, national sales manager, Vanair Air N Arc All-in-One Power Systems. Emissions regulations have increased chassis costs. “To combat the rising costs, fleet managers are reducing individual chassis size by going to a lower GVW vehicle. By utilizing combination units, the fleet manager can reduce the weight and give the operator additional payload capacity to carry the necessary tools.”
“Naturally, the most basic advantage is that you have all of that functionality in one centralized place, but there are other operational benefits, as well,” says John Leisner, product manager with Miller Electric’s Power Products Group. “We’ve seen instances where people have been able to move to a smaller truck because of the reduction in weight. Ultimately, that helps lower fuel costs and reduces wear and tear on the truck. It also helps ensure that your truck is under weight restrictions, and opens up more space on the back for hauling tools and other materials.”
In the past, many fleets purchased a separate welder, generator and air compressor. “Combining the compressor, welder and generator into one unit reduces vehicle weight and provides savings on service costs,” says Tim Worman, product manager for commercial vehicles, IMT.
For example, the IMT CAS35WG consists of a hydraulically driven 35-cfm reciprocating air compressor, 250-amp welder and 5,000-watt generator. It takes up no more space than a separate compressed air system, and offers less combined weight and is more compact than an engine-driven welder/generator and compressor. “The space savings allow operators more payload capacity on their mechanics trucks, which helps increase overall productivity,” Worman points out.
Combination units enable fleet managers to maximize use of the vehicle, as well. “More fleets are reducing overall fleet numbers and equipping the vehicles with more capability,” notes Strathman. Most combination units are designed to fit either in the load space of the body, or on top of the side pack. “This allows the fleet manager to be able to purchase a more standard body vs. having a custom body made to accommodate a welder cut-out, or reducing the cabinet space by adding a welding deck.”
In addition, many units have added functionality. All of the Vanair systems from 150 to 300 amps have four functions: air compressor, generator, welder and battery booster. Miller Electric also offers a 12- and 24-volt battery booster.
Consider the application
“Combination machines are ideal for anyone who will use multiple functions on a regular basis,” says Leisner. “The most obvious is on service trucks. People who work in the field and service equipment will regularly use all three.”
They’ve also seen popularity in structural steel applications. “Those contractors are regularly using all three functions for the joining of frames, decking and every other piece of steel on the site,” says Leisner. “In general, MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) and structural steel are the biggest, but most general construction applications will often find good use for all three components. It makes the most sense in any application where the machine(s) will stay truck mounted.”
Some combination units can supply better quality electrical power. “An advantage to our unit over a welder/generator unit is the ability to multifunction the welder and 120/140-volt AC output without worry of voltage spikes or varying voltage,” says Strathman. “Many welder/generator units of today produce the weld current and the AC output within the same generator casting. This type of generator is limited in its ability to provide the clean power needed by today’s power tools.”