Economic trends drive seat heater growth

  • 09-Jul-2010 11:24 EDT
Tom Stuef.JPG

Tom Stuef, Sales Manager, Agriculture and Construction, Check Corp.

There are many trends that shape product development and help our industry decide the right areas to focus our efforts. At Check Corp., we realize that today’s economic situations are a key driving factor in tomorrow’s sales.

As many businesses are aware, the agricultural industry has taken an economic hit in recent years. They are facing new challenges on how to increase productivity while decreasing costs. Companies are holding onto equipment for longer periods of time, making cost-saving choices on which options to consider, and even looking for ways to increase employee productivity.

Our goal at Check is to provide these industries with economical products that help employees perform their jobs better. We have used our nearly 20 years of experience in designing and manufacturing heated seat systems to create a seat heater product specifically developed for agriculture equipment such as tractors and large combines.

The built-in seat heaters provide comfort and warmth to the operators of agricultural, industrial, and construction equipment. Designed to be directly integrated into the seat as the cushions are formed, Check seat heater systems pass off-highway durability tests in accordance with SAE J1454 standards. The heated systems feature one, two, or three temperature levels for driver comfort. In addition, some systems are electronically controlled and feature an automatic one-hour shutoff for safety.

During the last few years, we have seen the most growth for our off-highway seat heater product come from the agricultural market. Many companies, including customers John Deere and Case New Holland, have begun adding seat heaters to their high-end tractors and combines. As employees work longer hours in their equipment, companies are trying to provide as much comfort as possible.

Seat heaters have also become a cost-effective solution for equipment that has an open-cab design—which is typically less expensive than closed-cab vehicles—because the overall price of the equipment is reduced while maintaining employees comfort. As more manufacturers turn to this option, Check has responded by developing waterproof controls and connectors that are suitable for equipment with an open-cab design.

As we look to the future, trend reports show the agricultural business is expected to increase 15% over last year, and we expect the trend of add-on comfort products to trickle down to other untapped markets, such as construction and warehouse operations.

Business has increased with the recent government push for more road construction. There are a lot of construction vehicles yet to have seat heaters designed into them. Many of these do not have cab heaters, and they are often used to remove snow, so installing heated seats is a simple solution to help maintain an employee’s body temperature in cold weather climates.

Lift trucks are another area with a strong potential for growth. In fact, a warehouse manager recently told me that if he could lower warehouse temperature by just 5°F (2.8°C), he could save significant dollars. Because he still wants to provide a comfortable work environment for employees, adding heat to the seat is one option he is considering.

The possibilities are endless for adding heated seats into the latest off-highway equipment. And because we use high-quality materials and cutting-edge technology to engineer the heating elements in-house, Check is able to design the exact heating system to meet our customer’s needs while maintaining total quality control from start to finish. Industry trends may change, but our commitment to creating a product that provides soothing comfort is a lifelong priority.

Tom Stuef, Sales Manager, Agriculture and Construction, Check Corp., wrote this article for SAE Off-Highway Engineering.

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