The Fox Landing innovation came right out of our facility. Mick Pickler is in charge of the production line for our Arctic Fox pickup campers. The Fox Landing is his vision and I believe the product says something about us as a company and how we work to innovate and make our product better.
The following is an interview with Jack Kay, Vice President of Torklift International, Jay Taylor, General Manager for Torklift International, and Casey Cotter, Engineer for Torklift International, about the Northwood Fox Landing.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Fox Landing is manufactured by two different manufacturers, Torklift International and Northwood Manufacturing’s principal bumper supplier. The following information on the inclusion of Torklift GlowSteps, GlowStep aircraft grade glow elements, SureGrip extrusion, compatibility with the Torklift GlowGuide, and the Torklift International lifetime warranty applies to the version of the Fox Landing that is manufactured by Torklift International. To identify a Torklift International version of the Fox Landing, look for the “by Torklift” decal (see above) and the GlowGuide logo on the steps.
TCM: Tell us how Torklift International got involved with the Fox Landing project with Northwood Manufacturing.
Jay: Northwood came to us proposing a joint effort to develop a new bumper system for their campers. Together with Mick Pickler, Truck Camper Production Manager for Northwood Manufacturing, and Doug Karr, Northwood’s truck camper expert, the Torklift design team started brainstorming. Conceptually, this was about a year and a half ago.
Last November or December, we were submitting prototype samples to Mick Pickler and the Northwood team. Then this past January and February we narrowed down the design concept to a final prototype. It’s been really good working with Northwood and we’re very excited about the Fox Landing.
TCM: What was Northwood’s primary initial design criteria for the Fox Landing?
Jay: Northwood was clear that the Fox Landing needed to be as user friendly as possible. It also needed to drop down to the side to allow for side entry and easy towing. With the Fox Landing, you can install the steps on either side and you don’t have to step on the trailer tongue.
Jack: We hand delivered a Fox Landing prototype to Northwood for review by the decision makers. We had Northwood team members coming from many different departments to review the prototype which was quickly installed on an Arctic Fox camper. Northwood gave it an effective test of having three big guys hop on the landing jumping up and down. They were giving the Fox Landing the old, “Let’s see what this thing can really do” test. That was one of the more memorable events.
Mick Pickler was the primary idea guy behind the overall design and very instrumental on the design of the unit. Mick worked hand in hand during the design process with Casey, both in person and on the phone. Mick’s concept of taking a rear entry camper and developing a bumper that would enable it to be a side entry camper is a unique idea. I think the Fox Landing is going to be very successful for Northwood.
Jay: Doug Karr was also instrumental in helping us to develop the Fox Landing and gave us feedback from Northwood dealers on the product. Casey listened to that feedback and took the Fox Landing to the next level with a fourth prototype. By that point, we had the design and concept down to the point where we were ready to proceed with manufacturing.
TCM: The Fox Landing is a very clever and very intricate design. Did you design the Fox Landing with SoildWorks?
Casey: Yes we did. One of the first things I saw for the Fox Landing was a design on paper from Mick Pickler. From his design, I understood what he wanted to accomplish. I then designed and rendered the Fox Landing in SolidWorks, a three-dimensional computer aided design and modeling program we use at Torklift International.
Once the Fox Landing was modeled in SolidWorks, we ran the Fox Landing model through finite element analysis and tested it for material and design strength. SolidWorks is amazing because it does the hard math for you. It will literally tell you whether there’s a weak point here or you need to extend there. It gives you the whole picture.
TCM: Tell us about the materials and manufacturing process for the Fox Landing.
Casey: The Fox Landing is manufactured using aircraft grade T6061 aluminum, which is a standard aluminum alloy for strength and lightweight applications.
Going from SolidWorks to production is easy once a product is modeled. Our CNC plasma table cuts out the shapes in the aluminum. Then we design jigs to bend the materials before welding the product together.
TCM: Does the Fox Landing need to be secured for travel?
Jay: The locking arm lifts up from the deployed position. It’s vertical from the camper. The locking mechanism holds it into place automatically. Pull a retraction cord from the back of landing and it goes back into place. The locking mechanism itself holds it secure.