Access has room for growth in Latin America, which factors will affect growth?
By Maria Hadlow19 March 2009
Latin America is regularly quoted as one of the large growth markets for access equipment. The market has grown noticeably over the last six years encouraged by, public finances being increasingly well organised and the decreasing public debt.
Carlos Hernandez area general manager for Haulotte in Latin America says, "The access equipment market, will benefit from a large investment in infrastructures (Specially Brazil and Mexico). The building industry and the budding necessity of connecting safety and high-rise work will undoubtedly require this equipment."
Construction is still the largest market for powered access in Latin America, with mining and petroleum also being important industries, however, in Mexico the industrial sector uses the largest amount of Access equipment.
Mr Hernandez says that construction has been, "affected by cheap labour and the, as yet, little professionalism of the sector." However he praises the working at height regulations adopted in Brasil in the last 18 months, "The approval of the new regulation NR-18 is a big step forwards in the professionalisation of high-rise work. However, extending proceedings, implementing and monitoring them and ensuring that everyone accepts this change will take time." Haulotte, has been actively supporting the adoption of the regulation by sponsoring conferences to promote it "and", says Mr Hernandez, "we are going to continue betting on safety as a basis to accomplish any kind of high-rise work." He would welcome similar legislation in other Latin American countries
Another key issue in the uptake of powered access equipment is rising wages, urbanisation and need for increasing productivity. "It is fundamental to be aware of the productivity that this equipment can guarantee in any high-rise work. Once this equipment have been used, it is easy to make a decision." North American and European companies installed in Latin America and importing their own working methods are another way of introducing the benefits offered by powered access.
The growth in use of powered access is being driven primarily from the rental companies and now some of these are coming from abroad. Europe's Riwal, which established an access rental business in Curitiba, Southern Brazil earlier this year is managed by Jim Roest. Mr Roest says that there is sufficient demand for aerials in the country to double the country's total access rental fleet to 8000 machines. However, Riwal had just started renting - it has 30 machines - and will grow steadily over the next 12 months.
Spain's GAM is planning to open a depot in Sao Paulo by the end of the year, capitalising on the presence of some of its big Spanish contractor customers in Brazil.
GAM is also making an entry in Mexico, having opened in mid-September a depot with 100 used machines in Mexico City. The country is reckoned to be another big potential rental market, with a national infrastructure investment plan valued at around US$250 billion for the next five years.
Carlos Hernandez says he would not be surprised to see more companies coming in from outside, "Due to the present situation, European big fleets need to find an output for their equipment. Latin America begins to require access equipment and there are no big fleets to respond to this demand."
The indigenous access rental companies are not going to be easily overrun, In Brazil, due to the enormous amount of investment in infrastructure the market for powered access rentals, has expanded rapidly and in particular a looming battle between Solaris - owned by Sullair Argentina - and Mills Rental.
Both have big expansion plans. Solaris Equipamentos e Serviços LTDA, to give it its full name, has recently created an earthmoving equipment division to add to the access and telehandler divisions it already has. The US$12 million spending on earthmoving equipment this year is part of a three-year, $120 million investment plan, with half of that sum earmarked for aerials. The current 1300 unit fleet will be increased by 40% this year, says Paulo Esteves, sales and marketing manager for Solaris.
Newly re-established Mills Rental, meanwhile, plans to invest $60 million in aerial platforms over the next three years, taking the fleet up to 1500 units. The company aims to have 450 units by the end of this year.
The global credit situation is effecting every market even those marked out as high growth, "Big powers like the US still have too much influence on the Latin American market, says Mr Hernandez, "Dollar fluctuations affect the purchase prices in these countries.....The current deceleration of European and North American markets will affect global markets in South America. At the beginning of September, it was expecting an increase of roughly 4% in 2009 throughout the region, but it will probably be a little bit smaller."
Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2040 Mexico will be the 5th largest global economy but at Haulotte they believe that it will be 10 to 15 years before Latin America can be described as a mature market for powered access equipment and before that can happen, says Mr Hernandez,, "It will be necessary to have exhaustive regulations regarding work methods and to convince the user they will obtain benefits like speed, productivity and security if they bet on the use of lifting equipment."