Owners and managers of electrical contracting companies are always alert to tools and equipment that will enhance workforce productivity. Portable work stations provide a convenient, easy-to-move work surface and storage solution. There also are rolling storage cabinets with tops that can be used as desktops. Portable bend stations that facilitate job-site conduit bending operations are another option.


Mobile work stations


“With project margins tighter and the qualified workforce shrinking, demand is certainly growing for products that improve the workflow on job sites and help crews work more efficiently,” said Doyle Elder, field training manager, Southwire Tools, Carrollton, Ga. “When it’s possible for an electrical worker to have a work station that is easily moved as the work progresses, it is likely that he or she will be working with greater efficiency.”


The Southwire Tools Wire Wagon was designed for the electrical trade. Introduced more than 10 years ago, it has since been updated and refined.


The Wire Wagon 550 is a print table and mobile workbench with portable storage for conduit and other materials in a compact package that can be rolled around the job site to wherever it is needed. The table surface is a workbench for fabricating parts, assembling fixtures, and many other tasks. Position the table surface at an angle, and it becomes a print table. Underneath are storage shelves for materials and supplies and a rack to hold conduit.


The XL Conduit and Wire Cart has a 24-by-60-inch workbench. Prior to pulling wire, this product can be used to hold several hundred feet of conduit as well as tools and material. The workbench top can be used to prefabricate parts, assemble fixtures and complete other tasks that electricians encounter during the average workday. The cart also doubles as a large-capacity wire cart. It will hold up to 14 2,500-foot spools of No.14, 12 and 10 AWG data and fire alarm cable.


“Our products are designed and built to meet the demands of hard usage encountered in the construction industry,” Elder said. “These tools feature welded-steel construction with heavy-duty casters to help ensure years of service.”


Contractors need functional work stations that make their job easier. Greenlee has two different styles of mobile work benches that come in a variety of options.


“Our first style of work bench has two shelves,” said Wayne King, product manager, Greenlee, Rockford, Ill. “One shelf is removable, providing added space to store large tools. This work bench comes with a composite wood work surface that can accommodate a chain vise and telescoping wrench stop. Our second style of work bench has four shelves for more organized storage and comes with the customer’s choice of one of two sizes of butcher-block wood tops.”


In 2016, Greenlee introduced a four-door, compact field unit with doors that open to the sides and lock into place, preventing unwanted closing while the unit is in use.


“We’ve engineered this unit to have cable pass-through holes for easy installation and external pass-through holes for external cable access,” King said. “The two-level work surface is slanted to accommodate a laptop, and it can support a 55-inch mounted computer monitor. These work benches are for professional, demanding job environments that require tremendous durability and strong security performance.


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“Each work bench is made from 16-gauge steel and protected from harsh elements with an anticorrosive powder-coat paint. They are designed with a recessed and concealed housing unit around the lock to offer maximum protection against people using bolt cutters and drills to open the lock,” he said.


Greenlee work benches also include continuous, nonremovable hinge pins to prevent theft.


Knaack, Crystal Lake, Ill., offers several categories of products for electricians, including job-site storage boxes, cabinets, chests, field stations, piano boxes and work benches. Multiple tool trays and storage shelves are perfect for electricians’ supplies.


“The most important distinction in our work storage boxes, cabinets and benches is the incredibly high quality of materials and construction that give these products long-lasting durability and longevity,” said Mark Peters, director of marketing, Knaack. “The classic, functional, flexible design allows professionals to customize a work bench for the utmost convenience and efficiency. Made with 16-gauge steel and arc-welded seams. Our benches are rated to carry from 800 to 3,400 pounds of supplies and equipment. They also provide excellent security with the Watchman IV lock system, a priority for contractors who change job sites often.”


Mobile technology is having an immensely positive effect on the construction industry by providing greater efficiency on the job site. That has created growing demand for products such as Knaack’s DataVault and DataVault Mobile, complete storage solutions for the hardware and software that is often required to run a large project. DataVault is a rugged and secure mobile digital workstation that includes a computer monitor, printer, power connection, backup power supply and white board.


“DataVault is designed to solve the problems of delayed communication that occurs when traveling between the job site and the work trailer,” Peters said. “It also allows for easy integration with business information modeling to create efficient job-site communication about project updates and changes.”


No professional enjoys the amount of unplanned downtime associated with searching for and digging around for needed tools. Milwaukee Tool, Brookfield, Wis., designs work stations with optimized storage options.


“The number of storage areas is important, as well as the variety of storage options to accommodate different sizes and shapes of tools and accessories,” said Matt Vargo, product manager, Milwaukee Tool. “We also provide the means to lock specific drawers if desired. For example, with 11 drawers that include 100-pound soft close slides and a center drawer with a moveable divider, the 60-inch work station can support a weight capacity of up to 2,200 pounds. Every inch of the space is maximized with features, such as a multiposition utility shelf that can be mounted at different heights on the side of the work station for convenient storage of bulk items. A quick-access tool holder provides easy access to longer tools such as screwdrivers.”


Due to the growth of prefabrication, the recently introduced 52-inch mobile work station enables users to clamp materials such as conduit to the top so it can be held in place while work is performed.


Both work stations have a power-tool organizer for drills and impact wrenches, and electricians can power phones, battery chargers and more through the built-in power center. In addition, users have quick access to different tools through the use of racks on the side of the unit. Each is constructed of reinforced angle-iron frames and 5-inch industrial casters for durability.


Portable conduit bending carts


For multiple on-site conduit bends, portable bending carts package hydraulic bending equipment in a mobile package.


Elder said portable bend stations help workers in three ways: their crews can be more efficient in material handling; workers can make quick, accurate, repeatable bends; and it helps reduce the risk of injury.


Conduit bending requires a lot of bending over, up and down motion, and physical strain. Using BendStations, workers are able to work upright in a more ergonomic position, and the vise on board will help to reduce the risk of cutting injuries.


Southwire Tools’ BendStation Pro is a complete workstation for ¾- and 1-inch EMT, Elder said. It can store up to 900 feet of conduit, a 12-by-60-inch work bench top that includes a 60-inch ruler for marking, a speed vise that will clamp both conduit and strut, a storage shelf for material and tools, and a dual bending head for ¾- and 1-inch EMT with a built-in protractor for accurate bends.


The BendStation Rigid is a workstation for 3/4- and 1-inch rigid conduit. It has the same features as the BendStation Pro, except it employs a chain vise instead of a speed vise.


The Greenlee mobile bending table provides an easy way to transfer all of the conduit bending shoes, follow bars and the hydraulic pump system, said Jae Lee, bending/pumping/fishing product manager. The table enables electricians to bend 21/2- to 4-inch conduits. Its design bends the conduit vertically from the ground, which is different than other mobile tables.


“Vertical bend orientation allows electricians to measure the conduit bend angle by using the protractor,” he said. “It also requires a smaller footprint during bending which eliminates moving other objects around the table.”