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December 2017
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Rig Ready adapts to industry changes

When you’re in a tight spot, it’s nice to have a guy like Dave Balcom around to figure out what to do. Balcom saw that lean manufacturing put repair people in tight spots, and he knew engineers and maintenance supervisors need to keep projects in house to save money. And he knew that having a forklift set aside with a boom welded on for rigging purposes put owners in a tight financial spot, dedicating that one forklift to be just a rigging forklift. “Also with the booms welded onto the forklift, they were open to getting written up by OSHA. If the booms are welded on to the forklift and the company that manufactured the boom was not the manufacturer of the forklift this automatically makes the forklift non-OSHA compliant,” said Balcom. So he figured out a way to have a versatile boom that attaches quickly to a forklift without having to weld a receiver onto the carriage or mast of the forklift.

His company, Rig Ready, was founded in 2009 with the invention of the Rig Ready Portable Professional Rigging System, the first boom that bolts on 16 different sizes, styles, brands and models of forklifts in less than 5 minutes. And one size boom will fit on Class 2, Class 3, Class 4 carriages and 4 sizes of tele-handler. In the material handling industry, “they use it to install the material handling equipment that is used in lean manufacturing and many other applications and markets. It is very adaptable and very flexible,” he said.  It can be used to install new machines, rearrange existing machines and fix breakdowns. It can also be used for maintenance, such as changing a motor or pump on a machine. “With lean manufacturing, the machines have gotten closer together to save on floor space. This tight environment causes headaches for riggers, millwrights and machine repairmen to do machine relocations or do repairs on machines in their current locations,” the Rig Ready website said.

Rig Ready, in Byron Center, Michigan, not far from Grand Rapids, allows technicians to use shorter forklifts with smaller footprints. In the depths of the recession, Balcom approached rental companies as a way to increase revenue. But they didn’t want to invest in a forklift with a boom welded to it, because it had only one use. With Rig Ready, a rental company can have a Rig Ready boom in stock that can be used interchangeably with its forklift fleet. Instead of 16 forklifts with booms, you now can purchase one boom for use with 16 trucks," said Balcom. “This is a huge capital investment savings.”

Balcom sees his invention as a game changer. “Rigging booms have been welded onto forklifts for 100 years. These booms are normally fabricated by companies that manufacture special rigging forklifts,” he said. “They can weld the receivers for the booms onto the forklifts that they manufacture and be OSHA compliant, but they cannot weld the receiver on to another brand of forklift and be OSHA compliant. The manufacturer of that particular forklift will not approve it because as soon as you weld on to the forklift, you change the specifications of the forklift making it non-compliant with OSHA.  Rig Ready has developed patented plates that bolt onto the carriage or slide onto the pin-style forklifts and are approved by the major forklift manufacturers because they are not welded on,” he said. “Since professional riggers do 90 percent of their rigging projects with either a 15,000 lb. forklift or a 30,000 lb. forklifts and the special rigging forklift manufacturers make their forklifts starting at 40,000 lbs., this makes virtually every forklift that the professional riggers are using under 40,000 lbs. non-OSHA compliant.”  When he saw the need for a boom that could be attached and detached easily and used safely, he invented patented plates that are adaptable to a multitude of forklifts. “I’ve been a skilled tradesman for over 40 years. I started when I was 19. I kind of was the fab guy. If the engineers needed something fabbed up, they would come to me,” Balcom said. He has more than 40 years’ experience in rigging, including work at General Motors, White Westinghouse and Steelcase.  So when he saw a need for a boom that wasn’t welded to a forklift, he started designing what would become Rig Ready after two years in research and development. “I invented it,” he said, and holds U.S. and international patent pending status.  Rig Ready products are manufactured in Holland, Michigan. “We keep seeing new applications that it can fit into,” Balcom said. At present Rig Ready will cover nine markets including the rental industry, manufacturing plants, construction industry, conveyor installers, material handling installers, oil gas and mining industry, demolition companies, professional riggers and landscapers.  More markets and uses are evolving daily.

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