Souma Ray, Director, Haulotte India
Souma Ray, Director, Haulotte India, gives insights on the current market challenges in the Aerial Work Platform (AWP) industry of India.

The competition

The AWP industry in India is yet to come out of its evolution phase and gather pace. The number of both new and used machines being imported into the country is indeed very small in view of the great potential that the industry holds. Besides the three full-range manufacturers like Haulotte, JLG, and Genie, there are manufacturers with a limited range of products, who are also vying for a share in this small market. The uninhibited import of cheap machines from China is also adding to the competition.

I wouldn’t like to comment on the safety factor of such machines as I feel that the only reason why they are being imported is because of their low price. We cannot consider them as competition, as a customer who is concerned about his workmen, would never compromise on their safety by using such unreliable products.

There is also a challenge posed by import of used machines - most of them are very old and come with out of service life, while some are relatively younger. Demand for such machines is mainly driven by rental companies who prefer procuring old and used equipment over new ones. However, the more established core AWP rental companies prefer to import relatively younger machines since performance, productivity and safety is important to them. New machines are mostly bought by the end-users and we at Haulotte take pride in saying that we lead the market in sales of new machines across the country.

The rental industry, which predominantly bought used machines, has also started investing in new machines, but such buyers are still a few in number. Haulotte is currently executing one of the biggest orders of 52 new machines from Rentease International LLP, a young rental company that is growing rapidly. We hope that this is a sign of a new beginning for the AWP Rental Industry in India.

AWP's Challenges in India

The Price Factor

As I have said many a time, we cannot justify the cost of an equipment by limiting its safety quotient. For working at heights, the AWP is the best solution, and safety ensures better productivity. The choice of buying or renting lies with the end customer based on his needs. If an AWP (as per the application needs and variant) is for regular usage, then it makes more economical sense to buy it; but if its use will be intermittent as in projects, for construction, and in multiple locations, then it is better to rent.

Price is certainly a crucial factor for any buyer. But he needs to choose between a high-quality product of a renowned brand, and which is available at an acceptable price point, or opt for a less reliable product, simply because of its lower price.

In my view, we should not assign monetary value to any product, especially when safety is an issue, as a wrong choice of a product that is unreliable, can result in accidents, and even fatality.

Haulotte is in the business of making high quality machines that help people work safely, confidently and productively at heights. As a world-class manufacturer, we don’t cut ends to reduce cost by sacrificing quality. Our equipment is priced very competitively and in line with other renowned brands from the USA.
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, hence, all major manufacturers from across the world are keen to sell their equipment in the country. This is good for the customers at large, as it brings in more competition. But a big worry for the AWP industry players is the unrestrained import of a slew of unknown Chinese brands, simply on the basis of their cheaper cost, but with little thought given to their safety assurance.

Lack of Safety Regulations

There are no policies or regulations for machines that work at great heights, an issue that continues to hamper the growth of the AWP industry in India. We strongly feel that for the betterment of the industry and to inculcate a consciousness towards safe working conditions, our government should take a cue from the best practices of developed countries wherein it is mandatory to use Mobile Access Platforms when working at heights. For example, Australia makes it mandatory to use an AWP when working over 3m height.

In India, we continue to use the traditional methods of accessing heights such as bamboo scaffoldings etc. These may be cheap, but they are totally unsafe, and many fatalities occur because the workmen don’t even use lanyards or safety belts. Bringing in a legislation on safety will be a major, positive move for the AWP industry.

Updating with Technology

All major manufacturers of AWPs are constantly striving to update the technology in their machines, not only to keep up with the changing needs of the customers, but also to make the machines more user-friendly, efficient and to ensure optimum safety during operation. Haulotte’s R&D centre is continuously innovating as per customer feedback, introducing newer and more user-friendly technology, expanding the company’s product line with new models, and revamping the older ones by incorporating the new technologies.

To make our machines safer and to enable optimum performance, a recent technology that we have introduced in our diesel boom lifts is the Entrapment Prevention System, ACTIV' Shield© Bar. This is a secondary guarding system that ensures safety of the worker in an entrapment situation. The system, once activated, allows a reverse and down function of the machine, thus, preventing further danger to the worker. This system, which is not present in some of our competitors’ products, can be reset from the platform itself, thus, saving both time and money.

A notable feature in the lower ground control box of our new-gen articulating & telescopic boom is the Haulotte Diagnostic screen in the panel, which enables the user to get all details of the machine’s performance and related parameters at the touch of a button. Any fault diagnosis can also be done on this screen, which gives a pictorial description of the nature and location of the fault. This helps in greatly reducing the downtime of the machine and any rectification can be done in the shortest possible time.

Our latest introduction is the LED lights that have been integrated in our new HT28RTJ 28m Telescopic Boom and the HA26RTJPRO 26m Articulated Boom to facilitate safe loading at night time.

RE International

Customer Support

Haulotte believes in the principle ‘Customer Proximity’, hence, we have subsidiaries across the world to cater to the needs of customers who are geographically close to them. We have designed innovative services like e-technical training, online identification, ordering parts through Easy Spare Parts, and an e-training site for customers to access training documents of their Haulotte machines.

Our new gen booms are fitted with the Haulotte Activ Screen for fault diagnosis and rectification on the machine. The operator or technical staff of the client can identify any fault, take corrective action, or reach out to our service team for remote assistance. Plus, all our new machines are Telematics ready and customers can fix their own GPS device to gather information remotely.

In-House Financing

Haulotte is one of the few equipment manufacturers to offer in-house financing to its customers under its Haulotte Financial Services arm. More than the strong price pressure, it is the lack of liquidity in the market that is affecting the flow of business.

Today, financing is a major issue for any purchase, and to address this issue, Haulotte is providing a wide range of financial solutions at attractive rates to meet the diverse business interests of its customers.

Creating Awareness of AWPs

Although, much is yet to be achieved, awareness amongst end-users is increasing. Over the years, the number of AWPs in India has increased, and the increasing visibility of the products is driving manufacturers to make more efforts to enhance their machines with advanced features.

However, a lot still needs to be done as the end-user needs to realise that the selection of an AWP is based purely on the application needs and accordingly a variant is chosen. Selection cannot be based on trends, models, or word-of-mouth recommendation, rather, it should be based on a technical understanding of the machine’s features and performance capability to suitably meet the user’s particular needs.

Lifting & Specialized Transport — April - June 2018

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