GCC access market: Latest advances & challenges

Rapid Access contributions in the GCC's powered access market.

Rapid Access, a member company of the Lavendon Group, a UK PLC specialised in powered access, Rapid Access serves as the group's Middle East arm.

Supplying the region with powered access platform rental services, the company maintains operations across the GCC, India and Iraq.

In addition to its rental services, Rapid Access additional verticals include powered access training, as well an extensive research and development component.

"We invest a great deal of our research and development and what we have is a unique range of health and safety attachments and accessories that allow people to work more safely on our machines," comments Alexis Potter, sales and marketing director for Middle East and International, Rapid Access.

The 2014 fiscal year proved to be a lucrative one for the Lavendon Group with a reported $382mn turnover of which Rapid Access contributed roughly $77.8mn. The group also invested $93.4mn in expanding its fleets, which now number 19,700 machines, globally. Rapid Access holds 3,000 variants of powered access machinery.

Committed to health and safety, the powered access rental company has also invested in developing its training facility in Dubai Investment Park. With a large training yard and a number of mock-up areas, Rapid Access' training facility is run by Gurparpap Singh, who won IPAF Training Instructure of the Year in 2011. Furthermore, the facility is credited for issuing 45% of all total IPAF licenses in the region in 2014.

Possibly its most successful project to date, Rapid Access landed the contract to supply over 200 powered access machines to the $20bn Sedara project located in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia.

In addition to supply the equipment on the joint venture project between Aramco and Dhow Chemicals, the company also delivers onsite engineering services and customer support.

Commenting on the firm's success over the past year, Potter shared: "Businesses benefitted last year from a very buoyant economy in the Middle East. "There was good signs of growth in the UAE and Saudi Arabia … There were some large projects awarded in Kuwait for the first time in some time."

The last year also saw the launch of the Rapid Access' BluSky product line, a range of accessories used in conjunction with powered access machinery.

One product in this line is a system aptly called Sky Sentry, which is essentially a keypad system that locks machines and restricts usage to authorised users only.

The range also includes Material Hurling Attachments (MHA), which are handling attachments that can be fitted to powered access machinery to hold equipment like pipes and duct work. However, the product line's most impressive addition is an anti-entrapment device called Sky Siren.

Comprising of a touch sensitive strip that is mounted on a machine's control panel, the system works to avoid accidents where employees become entrapped over their controls and suffer a risk of crushing. The sensor strip can detect if an individual is being pressed against the controls, and immediately shuts off the machine and initiates a klaxon alarm.

"It is a development that came out of Europe in 2009 and slowly they are becoming more popular over here. We've had them mandated on projects in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

It's really the first line of defence," explains Potter.

Commenting on the future, the sales and marketing director expects to see continued demand for low-level access products. These typically comprise of small units that are manoeuvre manually and that cover heights between 3.5 – 5.5 metres. He believes will become all the more critical within the FM market.

Additionally, there will likely be a greater deployment of electrical machinery, over the traditional gas-powered machines. The rising importance of 'going green' and reducing carbon emissions will also likely see increased use of start/stop technologies across the GCC market.

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