Van Mounts: On The Move
By Euan Youdale09 May 2017
There have been some major changes in the van mount sector over the last year. New manufacturer, France–based Klubb was launched at the IAA show in Hanover last September.
The company is currently developing its network of dealer partners worldwide. For now, it has 12 dealers mainly in Europe, for example in the UK, Norway, Germany and Belgium. But it would like to expand its presence in other geographical areas like the Americas.
The company was borne after the management of Time International’s separately-owned France sales organisation, decided to start its own company. This year, that company, Klubb, announced the acquisition of all the intangible assets of Comilev, following the winding-up of the France-based manufacturer. These assets include the brands, know-how and all the drawings of its vehicle mounted work platforms, including the Xtenso range, aimed at power companies, in particular with the Xtenso 3 model.
It represents a broader interest among van mount companies to explore the truck mounted sector. “As part of our development strategy, we began several months ago to work on the design of a range of truck mounted lifts,” says Julien Bourrellis, president of Klubb. “To this end, we recruited the heads of the Comilev R&D team, which were made redundant after the company went into administration in 2016. The acquisition of the Comilev product drawings will logically accelerate the launch of our range in this market segment.”
In order to manufacture its truck mounts, Klubb has just acquired a new plant of 13000 square meters, in addition to the existing infrastructure of 20000 square metres just outside Paris. This acquisition allows the creation of 25 jobs.
Regarding the van mounts, the company is still very much focused on broadening its range. It will show a new model, the K21 mounted on a 2.9 tonne Peugeot Expert at the APEX exhibition in May. This very compact model delivers 9.1m working height and 5.8m outreach. “It’s a great solution for cities maintenance: this platform mounted on a van is particularly easy to park and provide quite a big space of storage despite its small size.
It follows the launch of the 14m articulated boom lift mounted on a Renault Alaskan pick-up truck. The KAT 42 is suited to temperature extremes, its aluminium telescope ensures stability and the conveyor chain and the extension cylinders are protected in the arm for improved durability. It is aimed at the global market and was launched in November 2016 at the SMOPYC show in Spain on a Nissan Navarra pickup.
In turn, Time International has also been busy in recent months. In July last year Time re-launched in the French market with a new division Time Versalift SAS, France, which includes an assembly plant. Described by Time as a daughter company, the exclusive Versalift distributor for France will offer the complete range of van and chassis mounted platforms. And from the new ‘state of the art’ factory in Pau, assembly will take place on a range of vehicles.
The entity is also the official aftersales partner in France with a new service setup covering the entire country Then there was the announcement in February that Private equity company Sterling Group was acquiring parent group Time Manufacturing Company from O’Flaherty Holdings. The business had been owned by the O’Flaherty family for more than 40 years.
Headquartered in Texas, US, Time produces the Versalift van brand, which, following the acquisition, is now directly overseen by Time International, based in Denmark. In the past Versalift UK was a separate subsidiary, although it retains its assembly plant.
The acquisition also resulted in the retirement of longstanding CEO Charles Wiley, who has been replaced by Curt Howell. He told AI his plan is to grow the group, with around $200 million annual revenue now, to $500 million in the foreseeable future, and he has experience of doing just that. The Time International division in Denmark will continue to be led by CEO Per Torp.
On the subject of the Versalift brand, it has introduced new innovations in its range of Eurotel ETL and ETM van mounted platforms to coincide with the launch of Euro 6 vehicles back in September 2016.
The new ETL and ETM E6 platforms are now manufactured from high strength tensile steel and provide significant improvements to both payload available and working envelope performance, with the introduction of load moment control (LMC).
Versalift UK is offering two new units for demonstration, a 14.3m, ETM38-F(E6), installed on a 5.2 tonne GVW Iveco Daily50C15, along with its 13m Versalift built onto a 3.5 tonne GVW Ford Transit (Euro 6) to give in excess of 300kg of spare payload after driver, passenger and fuel. A new 14 m ETL38-F(E6) can now be mounted onto the 3.5 tonne Mercedes Sprinter, 3.5 tonne Iveco Daily35S and the VW Crafter.
Versalift sales director, Andy Bray, says, “Most significant developments are the relocation of the hydraulic valves to within the load area, an improved working envelope, a payload increase of over 50%, introduction of a 120° fly-boom and increased bucket capacity.”
Ascendant A12.5VM at outreach placing signage
With over 5000 Versalift platforms in the UK market Versalift UK has also launched an out of hours Response service, improving 24/7 support to its customers.
Another new product, the LAT135-H Low Voltage integrates leading technology within the boom structure, bucket controls and fittings, enabling dielectric flash-testing whilst the bucket is mounted to the platform. This prevents electric shock to persons on the ground who inadvertently touch the vehicle, mainframe or outriggers should the boom or bucket make contact with a live conductor. Bucket controls are also protected, providing additional protection to the machine operator. The low voltage insulation is certified to the latest standard and rated to provide protection from live voltages up to 1kV AC.
The new LAT135-H Low Voltage has a working height of 13.3m, an outreach of 6.1m, 230kg SWL platform capacity and has been tested to the highest stability standard. It is now available in two model variants; a new double A-frame stabiliser front and rear model, along with the flap downs to front, A-frame to rear version.
The big news for UK-based company Ascendant has been the re-acquisition of the business by its founder Steve Dean in late 2016, from Facelift Group, which runs a major UK specialist AWP rental company. Richard Tindale, from Ascendant Access, says the company is truly independent, it can grow both by rekindling historical relationships with other hire companies in the UK but also with a new focus on the utility and municipal sectors and by appointing distributors outside of the UK.
In mid- to late 2017, the first prototype of the A13TVM van mounted platform will be launched. It has a telescopic boom with jib, suitable for mounting on a 3.5tonne GVW van. Combining the best features of the A12.5VM, launched in 2015, and the A15TVM, launched in the third quarter 2016, “This will be the company’s high volume van mounted model which will allow Ascendant to take on the market leaders in the utility and municipal market,” says Mr Tindale, “Its key differentiating feature will be an absolute focus on robust design, simplicity of maintenance and repair an low whole life operating costs as a response to the increasing complexity of the competition.”
It reflects a trend in van mounts towards lighter structures and complex electronic solutions to provide ‘headline’ increases in reach performance with limited platform SWLs. This is driven partly by the increasing weight of the base vehicles with increasing emission controls.
Mr Tindale adds, “Unfortunately this is at the same time that operators are typically becoming heavier and that the cost of imported electronic components is increasing. It is highly possible that there will be a backlash against these trends and that customers will demand better performance throughout the whole working envelope with realistic loads in the platform, as well as counting the whole life cost of expensive but fragile joysticks and electronic management systems”.
He adds, that the weight of the platform will continue to be a problem with heavier vans but this will need to be solved by innovative but robust structural design and a concentration on performance characteristics that the operator really needs instead of just showing a paper advantage over competitors. It may become necessary for users to consider moving away from closed body.
The newly-launched Ascendant A18-13TJ on a 3.5 tonne chassis cab vehicle illustrates the demands to reach higher on a vehicle which can be driven on a standard car licence. It will be an important addition to the range as it addresses an already large market sector but one which is only currently served by complex, fragile machines with limited horizontal reach at a full 230kg SWL. “We anticipate that this fully featured machine, sharing many characteristics of the extremely popular A22-17TJ but on a 3.5 tonne instead of 7.5 tonne vehicle, will become the new standard for hire companies in the light truck mount sector thanks to its 13m outreach with 230kg in the platform.”
Fellow UK-based company Aldercote is increasing the spare payload and cargo space for van mounts. In the utilities sector, contractors have to carry an ever-growing amount of kit to the job site, so the space and payload to do this is vital. “We have addressed these issues through unique design features. These include the location of the pedestal directly behind the bulkhead, providing more space for storing tools and equipment towards the rear of the van. The pedestal’s unique tripod configuration also makes moving around it safer and easier for operators and service engineers.”
Klubb carries out utility maintenance
Aldercote also believes that the health and safety of service engineers needs to be addressed. Aldercote booms are designed with the health and safety of operators and service engineers as a priority. To this end, the hydraulic oil tank and emergency lowering controls are now housed in the rear of the van, eliminating the need for climbing onto the roof.
The Aldercote VZ140P-T is a 14m boom mounted on a 3.5 tonne Ford Transit. It can provide up to 400kg of spare carrying capacity, even after accounting for fuel and two occupants, which is best in class performance. Providing a working height of 14m and maximum outreach of more than 9m, it also has a class-leading working envelope for 14m van mounts.
France, another major market for van mounts, is home to France Elévateur, which again has a strong concentration in utility maintenance. It says operators now want better performances and to carry more load and tools, therefore smaller trucks with workshops are the best solution, compared to the limited payload of vans. Nevertheless, the company has made many developments allowing it to satisfy its clients’ needs across the vehicle types.
On the one hand, it has launched FE Training earlier this year, with a dedicated centre providing detailed information and training on how to use the units in the field, as well as technical, maintenance and safety awareness. FE training is already in partnership with companies and local authorities to increase the safety of the operator while working.
On the other hand, the company has a new partnership with a Canadian manufacturer of insulated aerial devices, diggers and cable handlers Posi+ and we will be showcasing one of the units at the APEX exhibition in May – see the APEX Showguide in this issue for more details.
France Elévateur’s latest van mounted products are the 091F and 091Fe launched at Bauma Munich in 2016. Now the units have been improved further to provide 5.2m outreach without compromise on the stability or the payload. Both have 9m working height, while the 091F is mounted on a Renault Trafic and allows up to 590kg of payload while the second version is mounted on Nissan e-NV200 fully electric. “We created these models to answer a growing need of light and small vehicle to work within the city centre,” says Romain Muller, export sales manager.
The fully electric 091Fe version answers that need with an extremely compact vehicle, without noise or pollution. It is also easy to park and store due to the recessed basket into the back of the vehicle, meaning the original size of the eNV200 is hardly changed.
“Also the offering of commercial electric vehicles is pretty narrow and limited to small numbers of vehicles actually leaving the production line with a rather high price tag. We are offering a viable, economic, long lasting solution for private companies who want to use electric vehicle,” says Mr Muller.
“We had to engineer and design entirely from scratch the aerial platform, making the 091Fe the lightest and most compact product of our range. “ The MEWP itself weights 490kg allowing the end users to carry around 70Kg of tools and equipment on a 2.2 tonne GVW vehicle.
“The biggest challenge for us is having to cope with new anti-pollution regulation within the European Union because the vans are also getting heavier and leaving us less freedom to work. Hopefully we have plenty of resources and dedicated team of engineers to overcome this challenges,” adds Mr Muller.
The potential for expansion in the van mount sector is demonstrated by Socage, which has traditionally been firmly committed to the truck mount sector. The idea behind the development of its van mount sector is to create a true ‘Socage Group’.
Van mounts with 12m and 14m working heights, mounted on 3.5 tonne vans were launched 2.5 years ago. The aim was to provide a lot of room inside the van with no obstacles and weight to spare even with the 14m working height version
The company also produces 10m, 12m and 14m working height pick-up mounted platforms. The company says the 14m A314, in particular, boasts a great deal of room on the deck for lockers and tool boxes, along with an unrestricted working area of 360° and spare weight.
Aiding these features is that Socage has developed an in-house supply chain; it now own or control the companies that manufacture 80% of the components of the booms.
Socage also developed the SPP (Socage Project Profile) in which it developed a unique partnership with Welser Profile, the leading manufacturer of special steel sections and tubes in Europe. This resulted in the use of pioneering new laser welding techniques on high strength steel, which enabled Socage to decrease the total weight of its booms without compromising on stability and durability.
Socage Group will also be using its branches in different parts of the world: France, Spain, North Africa, Brazil and Asia, along with Socage North America and Socage Germany, which are being established right now, to expand the sales and service network for all its product offerings.
Spain-based Movex, is also pushing the development of its van mount products. It says the immediate goal is to produce large series to reduce the production costs and sell its platforms cheaper.
“The challenge is always to work with the vehicle weight increases, now with Euro 6 vehicles we had to reduce the weight of the platform and subframe to maintain the payload, now, after a year of hard work, we can say that all our platforms from 9m to 20m are on weight for Euro 6 vehicles.”
Versalift LAT-38-135-H on Ford Ranger
Its latest product on a van was the TLF14; it is a 14m working height platform with fly jib, basket for two persons, two outriggers, and can be fitted with walk in basket and on new Euro 6 vehicles. Its latest pick up mounted platform is the ATL14, 13.2m articulated platform, again with basket for two people and this time four outriggers. The company is redesigning its other telescopic pick-up mounts to be more efficient and light and provide the maximum payload on vehicle. At the end of this year, the company will launch a 12.5m working height van mount with fly jib.
The company is developing new markets with new partners, including Holland, Belgium and Romania. “We want to grow in France and our goal is to enter into UK market. We have the right product for these markets with six models of van mount platforms and three models of pick up platforms.”