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Trayless Bottled Water Truck: Innovation Through Collaboration

Trayless Bottled Water Truck: Innovation Through Collaboration

DS Waters needed a new kind of bottled water truck, so they turned to Magline. The challenge was their route sales representatives were picking up one or two bottles by hand to carry to their customers.

"Most of the hand trucks in use by our company are designed for a lot more bottles," says Michael Belcher, Director of Safety for DS Waters. "They aren't conducive to moving one to four bottles, so the sales representatives were carrying the bottles by hand. But we knew that the best way to minimize physical stress and ergonomic risk factors usually involves mechanical aid, like a hand truck."

Magline's new Trayless Bottled Water Truck is a lighter weight truck, made of aluminum instead of steel. It weighs in at only 20 pounds, about half the weight of a steel truck. The unique frame geometry cradles the bottles for safe handling, and the bottles are kept in place without clamps or lids, held in by the weight and friction of the bottles themselves.

As an industrial engineer, Michael Belcher knows the ergonomic challenges his company faces due to the sheer weight and volume of product they deal with every day. DS Waters is known for home and office bottle water delivery, 3 and 5-gallon bottle for coolers and also single serve products including case water. Headquartered in Atlanta, the company was formed in 2005 and operates nationwide under regional names: Alhambra, Belmont Springs, Crystal Springs, Deep Rock, Hinckley Springs, Kentwood Springs, Mount Olympus, Sierra Springs and Sparkletts.  Their products are delivered to over a million homes, office, convenience store, restaurants and other locations across the U.S.

"We started developing this new Trayless Bottled Water Truck 2-1/2 years ago, talking to ergonomic specialists, getting feedback from our sales representatives, and designing it in a collaborative effort with the people who deliver water every day," says Belcher. "We have a relationship with Magline, so we went to them. Based on features we wanted and what we knew would make it safer for our employees to deliver products, the Magline engineers designed the prototype."

DS Waters tested the Trayless Bottled Water Truck for several months on sales routes, then performed some quantitative and endurance testing. They measured the amount of energy it takes to make small deliveries on a residential route, and found that this hand truck uses 9% less energy than making the same deliveries by hand. Then they began introducing the new hand truck on select routes in Southern California.

"The sales representatives like its light weight which makes it easier to lift off their vehicle," says Belcher "They like that it's maneuverable, and that it has a long handle so it's higher off the ground, and they don't have to bend over as far to remove the water bottles. They also appreciate the fact that they aren't as fatigued at the end of the day."

As an added bonus, DS Waters' sales representatives can use the hand trucks to carry additional products to the customer.  This increases sales opportunities for other products, like a case of bottled water or a stick of beverage mix.

"Putting other things on the cart provides enhanced sales opportunities," says Belcher. "That's a plus."

Already in their pilot project, DS Waters is expecting to see a return on reduced workman's compensation and exposure to injury claims.

"The feedback I've received has been phenomenal," says Belcher. "With any change effort, it takes time to get people to use the new innovations, but we're already preventing future injuries. As we compile the information and employee feedback, we are laying the groundwork to expanding the use of the Trayless Bottled Water Truck throughout California and hopefully, the rest of the country."

Trayless Bottled Water Hand Truck