Access Platform

The demand for Access Platforms is rising on account of fast-paced construction activities and growing concern for working at heights safely and productively, and hence, the market is lapping up its offerings. NBM&CW unearths some details.

There is no gain saying in the fact that safety and risk free operations at worksites are integral parts of any good construction. But unfortunately, our construction sites have been rather indifferent to these concepts. However, the advent of multi-national companies in the country in 90s brought a sea change in the Indian mindset.

This paradigm shift opened the doors for Access Platforms (APs) in the early 2000s. And today, as the country braces for infrastructural boom, the demand for these equipments is increasing steadily. Since APs lift men and materials with ease, they are increasingly being deployed by builders in infrastructural projects in airports, industrial, commercial and residential projects.

According to Mr. Alexandre Saubot, CEO, Haulotte Group, APs play a pivotal role in efficient working across sites. "They facilitate speed and productivity with safety of the worker being of prime importance. Greater heights can be reached in the shortest possible time thus saving time, energy, and money. Assured of safety the workmen can perform their jobs better and more efficiently. Across the world APs are used as key equipment and we foresee the same for India too. The growth potential is extremely encouraging. With the way India is evolving to meet the challenges of the future we need more and more world class infrastructure in place. All types of access equipment (Scissor Lift, Articulated & Telescopic boom lift) and Material lifting Equipment (Telehandler) are definitive requirements at different project sites today. All we require is to have legislation in place which would make it mandatory to use such equipment whenever working at heights," he says.

More Takers in India

Industry experts are quite candid in their assertions on the popularity of APs in the country. Remarked Mr. Rick Alton, Vice President, Sales, Market Development and Customer Support and Mr. Frank R. Nerenhausen, President JLG Industries Inc, "Foreseeing the large potential of the market, we have been strengthening our presence in India during past 2-3 years. We will continue to do this further by making investments towards strengthening our human capital and distributors."

JLG-Boom-Lifts

Notably, JLG's range of offerings for the Indian market is quite exhaustive and the company is upbeat on RS scissor lifts and booms. According to JLG, the RS Boom lifts are available in two models: the 18RS and the 24RS, delivering 18 and 24 metres of platform height respectively. Fewer parts mean that the boom lifts are easy to maintain without sacrificing performance. Moreover, the lifts offer a platform capacity of 227 kg, with a horizontal reach of 13.1 m and 17.8 m for the 18RS and 24RS respectively. The RS Booms are also the lightest machines in their class, with the 18RS weighing 7,348 kg and the 24RS weighing just 10,568 kg, which is 4,300 kg lighter than similar 24 m telescopic boom lifts. The RS Boom lifts can fit into a 40-foot shipping container, providing significant savings in transportation costs and contributing to a lower total cost of ownership.

Mr. Nerehausen adds, "Currently we have four dealers in India but as the market continues to grow, we will be expanding our distribution strategy, so as to provide total customer support to the products in the long run through technical support and parts availability throughout the product lifecycle. Distributors will be trained to undertake extensive product management at par with our global standards."

Echoes Mr. Alexandre Saubot, CEO, Haulotte Group," The market in India is still in its budding stages but the concept and the awareness of the definitive need of such equipment is growing rapidly. This has been fuelled by the growing concern in working at heights safely, productively and faster. We are very positive about the future prospects in India. India despite the current worldwide economic downturn continues to be one of the most vibrant and progressive economies. Coupled to the fact is the amount of Infrastructure projects underway and those in the pipeline for the future. This will certainly boost the demand for such equipments across sectors."

Informing about Haulotte's offerings, he states, "Our range of products covering HA41PX – NT Articulating big boom, HTL 4010, HTL 3510 and HTL 3210 10 m telescopic handlers, Star 8 & Star 10 – Vertical masts, OPTIMUM 8 Electric scissor lift, and H18SX Scissor lift – Rough terrain conforms to the global standards. These have been very well received in India and other Asian market, so much so that we are almost ready to expand our presence in these markets through our new subsidiary Haulotte India."

"Based on the growing demand from Indian market," he adds, "We are geared to meet the technical requirement of our products and services to meet the demands of Indian market through our proven technical solutions including users training, technical assistance with equipment spare parts tested globally. We are in fact proud to serve the India market providing them with a service tailored to specific needs through a flexible and diversified offering, reaffirming our commitment to our Indian customers. With this mission placed at our end, we are moving forward step-by-step to have a strong presence in Asia as a long-term player and be a local partner with high customers' proximity in this region."

Telescopic Handler

Brushing aside the notion that the ongoing sluggishness in the market will impact demand adversely, he avers, "We cannot measure safety just in terms of cost. Yes any equipment has a cost attributed to it. But then we have to analyse what is the cost vis-à-vis the benefit of using an Access platform. Of course the world is passing through an economic downturn but then work has not stopped. And if work goes on demand of such equipment will rise continuously as the Industry become more aware of the advantages of usage of such equipment. We have seen a steady rise in interest for Access platforms across sectors year on year basis and this will certainly increase more rapidly in the years to come.

According to Mr. Ketan Patel, Director – Maco Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd, the growing consciousness for safety is playing a major role in shooting the demand upwards. People are very much aware of the safety proposition these products provide. "And arrival of multinational companies in India has increased the rentals for aerial work platforms. He adds, "The Government should make the usage of these equipment mandatory above a certain height." Manufacturers kept aside, even rental companies are quite optimistic about the growth prospects.

Mr. Saurabh Doshi, Head Business Development, Gautam Infrastructure & Construction Equipments Pvt Ltd, informed that APs are being abundantly used in smaller ship repairing yards these days, and future demand will emerge from commercial and residential and industrial projects, especially for storage tanks in a big way."

Notably, Gautam Infrastructure is mainly involved in renting of APs and it's also the Indian distributor of boom lifts of UK-based Nifty Lift. The company is also the channel partner of Scanclimber of Finland and Skyjack of Canada for whom it markets mast climber and construction hoists, and scissor lifts respectively. Gautam has recently added the new truck mounted PNT 230 articulated boom lifts from Isoli of Italy to its repertoire. "PNT 230 has a maximum working height of 22.5 metres and maximum horizontal outreach of 11.3 metres and 230 kg carrying capacity. The articulated boom lifts will be mounted on Indian mini trucks depending on customers' requirements. The boom lifts will be finding their application in external plastering on buildings and repair of street lights mainly at crammed locations."

Gautam Boom Lifts

Nevertheless, he opines that if APs are to make further inroads in the country, it's imperative that the problem of acute manpower shortage is addressed at the macro-level. "Since the concept of APs is relatively new in India, we have started our own training modules, which are upgraded every six months based on the usage pattern of the equipment. To acquaint operators with functioning of the equipment, we also conduct live workshops."

Airports Leading the Way

brij-basi
Airports, on account of expansions and new constructions, have developed the largest appetites for these aerial devices. For instance, Larsen & Toubro, which is undertaking the expansion of Bengaluru International Airport, has purportedly deployed 15-16 APs of different brands. The picture is quite similar when it comes to Delhi and Chennai International Airports. Reportedly, the guys in-charge at Delhi International Airport are using Tuppen's track mounted APs for maintenance purposes.

Mr. M.N. Chaturvedi, Manager Marketing, Brijbasi Fire Safety Systems (p) Limited said "Protection from fire is a major need at industrial projects and airports. Since access solutions provide flexibility and smooth operations, they are ideal tools to tackle emergency situations."

Brijbasi Fires Safety, which is a leading provider of fire safety services at majority of Indian airports and large number of commercial real estate buildings, also rents out access equipment .The company has recently entered into a marketing tie-up with the Chinese Hunan Sinoboom Heavy Industry, under which, it will market and support the latter's entire range products such as scissor lifts, telescopic and articulating boom lifts in India. Moreover, Brijbasi is also the distributor of Finnish Bronto Sky Lift aerial ladder platform that provides fire safety and ranges between heights of 32 to 107 metres.

"We have supplied more than 150 units of aerial ladder platforms to various industrial project developers and fire safety agencies in India comprising Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Delhi Fire Services, Chennai and Mumbai Fire services. Two units of 62 metres and 90 metres were recently supplied to Indian real estate heavy weight DLF for maintaining fire safety at its high rise Chennai and Delhi residential projects," he claims.

Truck Mounted in Vogue

Mr. Giriraj Dave, General Manager –Sales, Prasad, Multi Services Pvt Ltd (PMS) noted, "There is a high demand for truck mounted access solutions from Indian access rental companies. Being registered with the regional transport authorities, the truck mounted aerial platforms can travel across longer distances through various state boundaries. Better maneuverability of the vehicles and greater mobility makes them value for money proposition with rental companies." PMS is the exclusive distributor for Italy-based Oil & Steel's truck mounted aerial platforms that vary between 14-62 metres.

In-spite of the fact that Indians are quite privy to the umpteen benefits that access solutions offer, they haven't yet outgrown their propensity to rate cost as the prime determinant in a buying decision. This, according to Industry gurus, is pivotal in shaping an AP provider's growth chart in the country.

However, there are some hiccups when distributors are required to provide AP solutions. Mr. Rakesh Modi, Director, Mtandt avers, "The dimension of Indian chassis is quite different as compared to the European ones. A good deal of integration support is required from the manufacturers and dealers end to make the sub frame synchronized with the chassis. Further, the gearbox requires modification from the local truck dealer to suit the drive of the power take off unit, adding up to the cost component. Twenty five percent customs duty, four-five percent customs clearance charges and six percent inland transportation costs adds up to the cost component further. But, in-order to make the products cost competitive to the customers, we absorb the incurred integration costs. Value to the customers is offered through better product support from our end."Officine's truck mounted access platforms can work at a maximum height of 12-44 metres accommodating working basket of 200kgs- 350kgs which can lift 1-3 persons with materials.

Competition is undoubtedly immense and there are more than a handful of AP players placing their bets in the Indian market currently. And as the country continues to keep pace with its declared resolve of becoming an infrastructural superpower, the demand for access solutions will continue to grow. Surely, those engaged with APs can expect brighter times ahead.
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