While many organizations, including the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), have done extensive research into service vehicles, we found a drought of information when it came to the equipment preferences of service truck operators. Instead, most of what we previously understood about equipment needs on service trucks was anecdotal.
This is likely due to the way equipment is bought and sold. Manufacturers sell individual pieces of equipment to upfitters and body builders and protect their internal sales information as propriety information. While organizations such as the NTEA do collect manufacturer sales information, it is done so on a voluntary basis and many manufacturers will not participate. As a result, there is no single, complete source with national equipment sales data.
To help address this challenge and better understand the industry’s perspective on service vehicle equipment, VMAC asked about the importance of general equipment in our 2020 State of the Mobile Compressed Air Industry Survey. VMAC then collected responses from 205 individuals, across numerous industries, including construction, heavy equipment, general equipment, infrastructure, tire service, and oil and gas, among others.
Here’s what they had to say:
Most Important Pieces Of Equipment On Service Vehicles
Survey respondents were asked to pick the two most important pieces of equipment on their service vehicles, out of air compressors, cranes, generators, welders, or other.
A significant portion of respondents chose “air compressor” as one of their top two most important pieces of equipment. Generators, cranes, and welders were split closely, with 32%, 31%, and 27% of respondents selecting these pieces of equipment as their top two most important.
The other category includes responses such as hand tools, bucket lifts, liftgates, vacuums, and pumps.
Operators/Mechanics Favor Air Compressors
Air compressors ranked even higher in popularity when segmenting the 47 Operators and Mechanics who answered the survey. 94% of these respondents chose air compressor as one of their top two most important pieces of equipment.
Interestingly, Operators and Mechanics were the only segment that considered welders to be the second most important piece of equipment on their service truck.
Brandon Boorman of Boorman Farms agreed with these results and said, “The air compressor would be the most important piece of the service truck and the welder would be the second most important.”
Many operators and mechanics are turning to multi-power systems to meet their needs, as these efficient machines combine numerous functions into one package. Boorman, for example, uses the VMAC Multifunction Power System.
“A guy came into the yard and fell in love with my new service truck. The VMAC Multifunction was a big selling feature, and a major reason he wanted to buy,” said Brandon Boorman, whose truck wasn’t actually for sale.
“He does 24/7 roadside service, and this machine allows him to do everything. There’s enough power to run the trailer, weld on the road, plus the best air compressor.”
Brandon sold his truck to the guy and upgraded to another service truck with a VMAC Multifunction.
Additional Survey Segments
The 31 fleet managers who participated identified air compressors and cranes as the two most important pieces of equipment on their team’s service trucks.
Upfitter results were similar to fleet managers, with an increased emphasis on the importance of cranes. The similarity in these results makes sense when considering the collaboration required between fleet managers and truck upfitters during vehicle planning and purchasing.
Owners were the only segment that ranked cranes as the least important of the four specified pieces of equipment. While air compressors remained a top priority piece of equipment, owners favored generators and welders over cranes.
Future Of Equipment On Service Trucks & Vans
Air compressors are considered one of the most important pieces of equipment on service vehicles, across a wide variety of job positions and industries. Given the diverse application and impressive power output of air compressors, they are likely to remain a staple piece of equipment on service trucks and vans for years to come.
“In 10 years of being a field service mechanic I’ve learned a couple things about the importance of having enough reliable air power on hand,” said Stephen Cox, who now creates YouTube videos for mechanics. “One is that not having enough CFM available when you need it is detrimental to any service job.”
“I also learned that even though cordless power tool technology has had made huge advancements over the years, they still won’t outperform its air-powered counterpart when it comes to power in because rechargeable batteries will always be left behind or dead in critical moments of need!” said Stephen. “Having a good, reliable air compressor on a service truck was more important to me than almost any other feature of the truck.”
Cranes, Generators & Welders
Likewise, cranes, generators and welders all have their place on the service truck, serving important functions in many job roles. With no viable replacement for this equipment on the market today, we predict the demand will remain strong.
However, there have been numerous innovations within the service truck equipment field. Multipower systems combine numerous functions into one simple machine, essentially serving as the swiss army knife of equipment. One system can replace the need for multiple pieces of equipment, ultimately lowering the space and weight requirements for equipment on a vehicle.
We have seen an increase in interest for multipower system in the past several years and expect this trend to continue in the years ahead. Manufacturers will also continue to innovate within this space, developing multipower systems that are smaller, more powerful, and more efficient in the decades to come.
About VMAC’s State of the Mobile Compressed Air Industry Survey
VMAC surveyed 205 people for the State of the Mobile Compressed Air Survey, between October 2019 and January 2020. Each participant spent approximately 7 minutes, answering 25 questions in an online survey to share their perspective on the state of the industry.