Access-50 2007: World's biggest access fleets

19 March 2008

Fifteen of the world's biggest aerial platform owners grew their fleets by over 20% last year, and eight of them broke the 40% growth barrier. Acquisitions played a big part in this of course – notably in the case of Ashtead Group and GAM – but organic growth and big spending on fleets played an equally important role, with companies as diverse as Simplex in Canada, Boels in The Netherlands and The Platform Company in the UK simply spending a lot on lifts.

The overall impact of this heavy investment has been a 21% increase in the size of the world's Access–50 fleet, to 402900 units. An almost equal rise in the biggest fleets sees the top 5 fleet rise to a whopping 179880 units, and the top 10 reaching over 250000 machines.

Number one again is United Rentals, with a relatively modest 3.5% increase to just over 73555 machines. It is not–so–closely followed by RSC on 35705 units and Ashtead Group (combining A–Plant, Sunbelt and NationsRent) with 31510 aerials. Nikken Corp is one of the biggest movers – rising 19 places to number 6 – and Finland's Pekkaniska is a notable newcomer, in at number 16.

This year's survey again sees a re–evaluation of some of the big Japanese fleets. We have managed to get reliable figures from two of the biggest companies in the country – Nikken (almost 18000 units) and Nishio Rent All (10300). The Nikken figure is almost six times our estimate for last year (we are slightly ashamed to report).

Our estimates for the other big Japanese players, particularly Aktio and Kanamoto (6000 and 3000 respectively), may also be under–representing the firms.

New entrants in the list include Finland's Pekkaniska, with 6000 machines. The company is renting not just in its home market but also now in some of the Baltic States.

Also new are Kanamoto (making its debut after having avoided our radar for several years); Boom Logistics in Australia (buoyed by the acquisitions of Sherrin Hire and Moorland Hire, both big access players); Ireland's Height for Hire/Easi–Uplifts; and Spain's Clem Group and Euroloc (recent buyer of Nacanco's Spanish business.)

It is the fastest–growers, however, that catch the eye, and these (see box right) include three at the top who have all made significant acquisitions: Ashtead, Euroloc and GAM. Others growing quickly include Riwal – which is fast becoming a kind of ‘alternative’ Lavendon, a pan–European player but with an eye for developing markets – and Boels, which seems to have decided that aerials are definitely a good thing to have.

In the UK, AFI–Uplift and The Platform Company are both expanding quickly and have established themselves alongside Lavendon's Nationwide as the three 'top tier’ companies in the country, with the next biggest players,

A–Plant and Hewden, now significantly smaller in scale.

This year for the first time we have a look at telehandler fleets as well (see box below). Not everyone was willing to part with this information – in particular several of the big US rental companies. One of the interesting things about the data we obtained is that it shows the widely different strategies towards telehandlers taken by the bigger rental companies.

For example, Nishio says it has no telehandlers while Nikken has almost 2000. Loxam has 3400 and Ramirent fewer than 350, which is less that France's Group Salti, a much smaller player. This clearly reflects regional preferences for particular machines (the US, UK and France are very heavy telehandler users, for example), but perhaps in some cases it reflects an opportunity not yet fully exploited. This view is best supported by the fact that there are only 13 companies – by our estimation – with fleetsof more than 1000 telehandlers.

Another innovation is a list of the top 20 mast climber rental companies. This was compiled from information from various industry sources, and we are confident of the reliability of the figures. As with telehandlers, this list just serves to highlight the opportunity still out there for entrepreneurial companies, with very few – just five – with fleets of more than 500 units and even fewer taking a global view of this market.

Finally, we again thank all those companies and individuals who helped us compile the list, and offer our congratulations to all the companies in the top 50 (and our apologies to those we have missed out). AI

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