Walking on air: AWPs press new market applications

Rapid Access on how it has maintained itself as a strong leader of the aerial work platform market.

Vendors of aerial work platforms (AWPs) in developing markets have a pretty interesting job. In many cases, securing a customer involves convincing them to abandon a tried and tested access solution.

AWPs allow quick and easy access to locations that might previously only have been accessible by scaffolding or rope access.

In many mature markets, the AWP sector has reached its peak — driven by safety concerns and subsequent regulation. In less developed markets like the Gulf, where both business practices and regulation have yet to set in, there is substantially more room for manoeuvre.

PMV talked to both providers of so-called ‘cherry picker’ AWPs, scissor lifts and also two providers of truck-mounted platforms to get a feel for the current vogue of the market in the region, as well as its aspirations.

Dubai’s Rapid Access operates from nine depots across all six GCC countries, deploying a regional fleet of more than 3,600 aerial work platforms the majority being manufactured by Genie and JLG with working heights up to 47m.

With a large fleet, a presence since 1996, and representing major manufacturers — Rapid provides a strong bellwether of the market.

Alex Potter, sales and marketing director for Rapid Access Middle East, notes that “2014 was a record year for Rapid – delivering increased numbers of customers, hired machines, and specialist training” and that the growth in the region is “continuing in 2015 and into 2016”.

In 2014, across the Middle East, Rapid provided rental equipment and services to over 1,200 customers generating revenues of $75.6m, and at present, from Rapid’s perspective, the region continues to be won over by the value of aerial work platforms as the “safest and most efficient way” to carry out a wide range of tasks while working and operating at height.

Dorinel Stefaniu, business development for Johnson Arabia, an exclusively rental-based company operating a fleet of approximately 600 AWPs, concurs that “demand has been increasing since the beginning of 2015”.

Stefaniu hints at the early sing of maturation in the market, noting: “For a few years until end of 2014, a lot of clients were looking for the cheapest product irrespective of service that comes with it; this year, that has changed — with a lot more clients willing to shell out more money in order to get a better product with top of the class services.” He adds that, if anything, sales are being restrained by slow payment.

Detailing the key growth areas, Potter states: “We have seen significant growth in the use of smaller electric scissors and booms during 2015 particularly across the MEP and facilities management industries.”

Potter, notes: “All of us at Rapid, and our clients, are continuously searching for ways to make working at height safer. With this in mind we continue to develop our industry-leading range of safety accessories, like the SkySiren setup — which mitigates risks associated with operator entrapment.”

SkySiren is a Lavendon Group safety system widely deployed across its global fleet of 21,000 units that involves a pressure sensitive bar in front of the platform controls that deactivates the machine when pressed — anticipating scenarios where an operator working in confined conditions might back the platform into an overhead object and crush themself against the control panel and platform cage.

In the region, Rapid Access is witnessing an ever increasing uptake of this product, which in addition has a CE certified retro-fit system capable of being added to most boom AWPs.

The innovation forms part of what Rapid Access calls the ‘safety value chain’ — the four links in the chain being: machine selection, specialist training, safety and innovation, and support services.
Read the full article here: http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-36360-walking-on-air-awps-press-new-market-applications/