Access Work Platforms

The Indian aerial work platforms market is passing through an interesting phase. Demand is being characterized by increasing competition, amidst emergence of newer business avenues. Partha Pratim Basistha discovers.

Growing awareness about utility of Access Work Platforms (AWP) has resulted towards increasing demand from industrial and general infrastructure projects for construction and maintenance purposes. Buoyed by the emerging demand, small, medium, and even some big rental agencies are resorting to large scale procurements of imported used equipment in recent years. The growing import of used equipment, by rental companies, has kept the rates under pressure. According to industry estimates, rates have moved south by at least 25% in 2015 as compared to 2014 and 2013.

Souma Ray
Haulotte Access Works Platform
Rising imports of used equipment and commensurate pressure on margins have been making it challenging for the original equipment manufacturers to promote fresh equipment offerings. However, shrugging competition aside, OEMs are targeting, infrastructure and industrial projects having requirements of quality maintenance through specialized equipment. "We have recently supplied, 21 aerial work platforms of 8-19 meters, involving, push around, electric articulated booms, light weight articulated booms, vertical masts, with special wheels that exerts minimal ground pressure as per the technical requirements of Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) for maintenance of its new, modernized Terminal 2. We are targeting newer application areas which look for value-added products. "We shall continue support the equipment through operation and maintenance training provided by us directly and also through our distributor" says Mr. Souma Ray, Director, Haulotte India.

With IPAF, which is an international Training Organisation involved in providing Operators training for AWP operators, starting its India chapter, Haulotte is associated with IPAF on this vital step. He says, "Owing to inadequate legislations, safety is often compromised with in India, while working at greater heights. Taking note of it, we have recently introduced several new models in the recent past in line with the changes in technology across the world. The key factors being safety and productivity.

Suited for Indian conditions, these machines are easy to operate, yet state-of-the-art robust and reliable. One of the notable features of the equipment is the secondary guarding system called ACTIV SHEID BAR (Patented by Haulotte), which can be fitted optionally on our booms to prevent any harm to the personnel in an entrapment situation, when working at heights.

With increase in awareness of using AWP especially in the power sector and with Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd. having become one of the largest procurer of AWPs, Haulotte has been successful in supplying 16m and 26 meters articulated boom lifts to PGCIL. It has also supplied 41meters Articulated boom lifts to Reliance Infra for maintenance of its ultra mega power plant at Sasan and to IFFCO at Paradip Odisha.

The current unit of aerial work platforms in India is 5,000+, out of which 30% belong to end users for captive maintenance jobs while the other 70% belong to rental companies rented to industrial and infrastructure and commercial real estate sectors.

According to JLG, "Unlike India, globally AWP business is driven by rental agencies through new equipment. In contrast in India, the preference of rental companies has generally been to acquire used equipment due to the lower rental rates which they are able to command. There is ofcourse a slight shift towards new equipment procurement by the rental companies. The end user segment in India however has a preference for acquiring new equipment. Having adequate market network, the rental segment offers a huge potential though they are looking for financial & after sales support solutions from the manufacturers."

JLG, which is a globally renowned manufacturer of AWP's and Tele-handlers, is providing valued services through application studies, training support, parts and fleet management to ensure its customers are able to leverage their investment fully.

Haulotte Access Works Platform

Total refurbishment support for the used equipment is also provided at their dealer's facility in Chennai. Fleet management services are gaining popularity among rental companies and end industrial users for captive maintenance requirements as it ensures higher equipment availability and resultantly better return on investments.

Adequate business network and minimum exposure to bank liabilities makes the small and medium rental agencies in India potential customers to the OEMs. "We have been creating awareness, among the AWP Rental Companies for adding new machines in their fleet, as this has long term advantage of absolute hassle free operation, minimal maintenance and safe operation. We have been fairly successful in conveying the message of long term advantage and cost of ownership of new machines in this market. During 2014, when overall demand was subdued in India, a good share of our new business came from these rental companies," says Mr. Rakesh Kumar, Country Manager, Terex Genie.

He continues, "there is good response for new scissor lifts and mid size aerial work platforms from small and medium sized renting companies and gradually this trend will include bigger booms also. We have backed the products, through adequate product services support through our existing and new dealers."

Terex Genie appointed, Manlift India Pvt. Ltd, Reach International and Sendhamarai Engineering Pvt. Ltd. three new dealers in 2014, apart from existing Maco Corporation to strengthen the dealer network for the emerging Indian market.

Ketan patel
Being an exclusive pan India distributor of Terex 'Genie' products, Maco India is looking to have product brand recall based on its services support for the AWP solutions. "Our range of services support to the end customers is entirety to ensure the equipment have optimum availability. This includes, annual maintenance contracts, attendance to the equipment on call and timely parts support. Our domain of support also includes, complete refurbishment of the equipment through replacements of joysticks, hydraulics and other critical components on requirements. Hydraulics of even ten years old are also changed based on need," says Mr. Ketan Patel, Director, Maco India.

Maco's marketing links is institutional sales, pertaining to the end users in corporate sector and core public sector undertakings. The distribution company also possesses fair deal of business exposure in rental sales. Further it also rents out the equipment. According to Mr. Patel, "Our multiple marketing network coupled with our adequate services support, reinforces our position as a distributor providing valued sales." Maco has its sales and services support centers in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Vadodara, Chennai and Hyderabad. The company also distributes, Palfinger, knuckle boom cranes, and JMG light cranes from Italy in India.

Maco Access Works Platform

South India, mainly, Chennai is one of India's important markets for aerial work platforms. Chennai is one of India's major automobile clusters housing Ashok Leyland, Hyundai, Daimler, Ford and many others. It is also a base for other small, medium and large scale manufacturing industries involving JSW –Toshiba, Alsthom.

Automobile units in Chennai are estimated to posses roughly 300 awps. The automobile units use scissor lifts of 19-32 feet to carry maintenance of shop floors and 45 feet boom lifts for the maintenance of shop floors and external factory buildings. Construction equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar recently acquired 36 units for the maintenance of its new backhoe loaders manufacturing facility at Thiruvallur, near Chennai. The equipment comprise 19-32 feet scissor lifts for the maintenance of its paint shop and pre inspection delivery line and boom lifts of 45-60 feet to carry out the maintenance jobs for its factory building. Another, important buyer in the region is Indian Space Research Organization which recently brought 20 mast boom lifts of 12 meters for satellite assembly jobs. State owned, mega Cochin Shipyard in Kochi (South India) will float tenders this year for five 60 feet boom lifts to undertake construction of mega LNG carriers. It acquired similar number of units in 2014.

Growing End Users Market

There is also growing demand for new stiff, articulated boom and scissor lifts from medium and large corporate industrial project owners and construction companies, for captive construction and maintenance purposes. According to industry estimates, the demand for new equipment, across categories has gone up to 235 units in 2014 as compared to 200 units in 2013 in India. This is expected to grow further this year, as State owned, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) has lined up major maintenance programme for its refineries across India. The demand for new equipment is also expected from India's largest private refining entity, Reliance for its ongoing third phase expansion of mega Jamnagar refinery in Gujarat, Western India. Reliance refinery is known to have 80 units. According to the industry estimates, there would be requirement of additional 200 new equipment when the project reaches peak of its construction by the end of this year.

Manitou Access Platform
Newer norms for mandatory usage of AWPs coupled with strict tender clauses focusing on safety by state and private corporates for their industrial projects maintenance, especially for undertaking maintenance jobs at greater heights is a major factor for emerging demand. Minimization of plant shut down periods by the cement companies is also resulting towards increasing demand of newer equipment as they come with higher reliability. Requirements of newer equipment are also due to adoption of prefabricated construction in industrial construction in a major way.

Sizeable numbers of JLG scissor and telescopic boom lifts were hired by Interarch Buildings from Indian rental agency, Mtandt for setting up JCB India's limited, largest new, and the pre engineered assembly and fabrication shop spreading over 30,400 and 22,800 respectively to manufacture telehandlers at Jaipur in Rajasthan, North India. The project was completed in record six months time in 2014. The demand for new equipment is also coming from Indian state owned, power transmission major, Power Grid Corporation Limited (PGCIL). It is undertaking major expansion of its transmission network across India, for which it is acquiring large numbers of aerial work platforms for regular maintenance of its substations. Terex Genie has recently supplied twelve, articulated boom lifts to PGCIL.

Rising demand along with requirements for specialized applications has also brought globally reputed, organized rental agencies like Manlift, AW, Lavendon, Rapid, and Manlift in India, with larger emphasis on safety and operator's training. The business is being strengthened by big Indian rental company, Mtandt offering newer solutions like, tele handlers.

Crane Renting Agencies Add Demand

Express Equipments Access Platform
The demand for new equipment is also being created by medium and large crane renting companies in India. As part of business diversification in allied areas, the agencies have large scale exposure in refinery, power and cement industries, acquiring aerial work platforms, in a big way for value-added maintenance support along with crawlers and mobile cranes.

"We have rented out our newly acquired, Manitou, 20 meters telescopic aerial platform to IOCL refinery in Vadodara, Gujarat for long-term contract of two years for the maintenance of pipe racks," says Mr. Ashwin Gandhi, Director, Express Equipments Rental & Logistics, Gujarat based crane renting heavy weight. It plans to acquire two new 120 feet telescopic aerial platforms for similar refinery maintenance jobs in Jamnagar and Hazira in Gujarat.

There is an emerging trend of new equipment from rental, captive users and crane rental agencies. However, given paucity of skilled manpower, buyers are increasingly looking for training support for operation and maintenance. There are requirements for appropriate products support in terms of timely parts availability. This will ensure long-term growth of the aerial work platforms market in India.
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