Low-level keeps advancing: Maria Hadlow reports on some of the latest developments.

By Maria Hadlow05 April 2011

Production models are now available of the Pop-Up DRIVE 10 Eco with a platform height of 3m and a sa

Production models are now available of the Pop-Up DRIVE 10 Eco with a platform height of 3m and a safe working load of 140kg, it weighs only 495kg.

The growth in interest in powered low-level access equipment has been very notable over the last couple of years. There are far more products on the market than before, offered by an increasing number of manufacturers.

An economic environment , which made it difficult to sell and rent into traditional construction markets may have engendered some interest in machines which can be used in: facilities management, maintenance, cleaning, warehousing, M&E (mechanical and electrical ) fitting and HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) applications to name a few.

Health and safety requirement s when working at height will also have played their part as has the increase in productivity that can be achieved when using powered access.

Two of the early pioneers of low-level powered access equipment have made some big changes over the last couple of years albeit in very different ways.

Pierino Bravi who original developed the very lightweight vertical mast Leonardo to meet his own needs as a M&E contractor has developed a number of variants of the machine. Indicative of a market, which is increasingly discovering the efficiencies these machines can bring. Italian manufacturer, Bravi now has several different models including the Caddy, developed specifically for warehousing and pick-and-place applications. Bravi says that it has already sold hundreds of these units to several major customers, especially in the UK and Germany.

At ConExpo Bravi will show two new models: Leonardo HD (heavy duty) for more hostile environments and Bravi Lite a very lightweight machine with a slightly less working height. (See ConExpo Preview)

The other pioneering low-level access company Pop-Up entered into an arrangement with Snorkel last year to develop low-level access products. Pop-Up had developed the push-around Pop-Up scissors, very lightweight and easy to use and in conjunction with Snorkel is developing a suite of push-around and self propelled low level access products.

The company now offers five push-around lifts in the Pop-Up PUSH series and two drive-around (self-propelled) lifts in the Pop-Up DRIVE series, with more to follow. Nigel Woodger, Managing Director of Pop-Up Products Ltd, said: "With this expansion of our product range, Pop-Up now offers the largest portfolio of low-level access products in the UK.

"Integrating these new lifts and our scaffolding into three simple categories gives our customers complete freedom of choice. For the first time, hire companies have a single source solution for all their low level access and scaffold requirements."

The original, albeit restyled and slightly re-engineered, Pop-Up and Pop-Up+ is still available as the PUSH Eco range. With more than 6000 units sold worldwide, PUSH Eco is available in platform heights of 1.6m and 2.5m, Eco is designed to deliver a fast rental return on investment, making it ideal for independent hire companies. The revised PUSH 6 Eco now includes auto-brakes as standard.

The Pop-Up PUSH Pro range is engineered for a long working life, the PUSH Pro series is heavy duty, robust push-around scissor lifts that are simple to operate and low cost to maintain. Available in three platform heights (2m, 2.5m and 3m), PUSH Pro includes a fixed control box for safety, easy pull-out tray for maintenance and a strong scissor stack providing durability and stability.

The Pop-Up DRIVE 10 Eco was first shown at Bauma 2010. The production version mades its world debut at the Executive Hire Show in Coventry UK in February. This lift has been designed to bring the safety and productivity benefits of aerial work platforms to the lightweight low-level access sector. The Pop-Up DRIVE 10 Eco provides a platform height of 3m and a safe working load of 140kg, but weighs only 495kg.

Also launched at the Executive Hire Show was the Pop-Up DRIVE 12 Pro. The first mast lift in the Pop-Up range, this is also the first Pop-Up that is rated for outdoor use and the first that can lift two people. It extends the maximum working height of the Pop-Up range from 5m to 5.7m (16ft to 18ft). Pop-Up is developing a range of robust self-propelled lifts aimed at major tool hire companies. Pop-Up expects to launch additions to the DRIVE Pro series towards the end of 2011. This machine is also sold through Snorkel distributors as the M1230E.

The Pop-Up push around models are manufactured in China as are many of the products in this sector including Youngman's BoSS range of scissors. Youngman has just launched its first self-propelled low-level scissor the new BoSS X3X SP

Youngman says that the BoSS X3X-SP is designed to be the smallest, lightest and most manoeuvrable self-propelled lift available.

The X3X-SP has a maximum working height of 5.14m and and safe working load 150kg. An overall width of 0.76m, allows the machine to easily pass through a standard doorway or into a passenger lift.

The machine is can turn within its own footprint of 1.27m, including when at full height and with the 0.4m platform extension in place. Because the platform can be driven from work point to work point without the operator having to dismount and push the unit each time can save time and effort, which may result in a greater volume of work being undertaken each day. A castor lock feature ensures straight line driving when required as well as pothole protection activation.

The BoSS X3X-SP weighs 495kg and the new lift also has many of the standard features found on the push-around range including a tilt sensor and overload protection as well as easy-to-access serviceable components mounted within a slide-out compartment.

Peter Terrel the divisional sales manager said the company was expecting the first orders for the machine to be placed at the Executive Hire Show and first deliveries of the machines from the Chinese factory to arrive in the next few weeks.

The US low-level specialist Custom Equipment started with self propelled scissors noted for their very tight turning circle. Last year at The Rental Show in Florida they showed a push around model but the latest development is the HB-830. According to Justin Kissinger marketing manager, "The overall goal of the HB-830 is to give tradesmen a cost favourable alternative to traditional scaffolding, leg stilts, and step ladders."

HB-830 has a 0.63m by 1.13m (25in by 44.5in) deck, and includes an additional 0.48m (19in) slide out deck extension. Mr Kissinger says, "Over the last 10 years, Custom Equipment has focused its engineering efforts on removing excess weight from its machine design, successfully answering the question; 'How do we operate an aerial scissor lift on a weight-restricted floor?' The HB-830 answers that question by weighing in at 506kg (1115 lb), yet offering a very capable 4.2m (14ft) working height."

The zero turn radius operation via the dual independent rear drive motors and 360 deg rotating front wheels allows the operator to use this machine in constricted areas including crowded office buildings, hospitals, and hotels. Dual-wheel front wheel system, virtually eliminates carpet buckling, while helping to minimize overall wheel load.

Another innovative low-level access company, Power Tower has developed additional vertical mast Nano models and redesigned the original sigma boom Power Tower

The Nano SP zero is a lower cost version on the self propelled vertical mast Nano designed to be as simple to use as a push around, Brian King of Power Towers said, that at 15% cheaper than the Nano it will take customers on their first step to self propelled low-level access.

The Nano SP Plus, has a two stage slide out basket, providing an extra 1 m in total for more flexibility. Load sensing technology both across the platform and specifically on the extension ensures safety.

The new Power Tower has a larger platform now 1.52m x 0.75m, but will still pass through a standard door. New accessories include special rails that will pass the operator through a suspended ceiling.

New at SAIE in October 2010 was Iteco's first foray into the low-level access market the Iteco EasyUp 5, is the company's first push-around scissor. The machine which has a 5.2 m working height, weighs 380 kg and can accommodate 200kg. The machine is designed to be easy to transport and will fit through a standard doorway.

Take up of low-level access has been most pronounced in the UK, but the interest is starting to spread. A number of manufacturers will be highlighting their low-level offerings at ConExpo - AI will report back on how the US market reacts to this sector of the market.

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