Access equipment: Widening scope
By Euan Youdale01 May 2018
China has become a hotbed of self-propelled access equipment production, particularly scissor lifts, in recent years, not just from Chinese manufacturers but from established manufacturers based outside China that have moved an increasing amount of the production to the country.
JLG and Genie, both based in the US, already have well-established manufacturing plants in China, at which electric scissor lifts are a significant proportion of production for the global marketplace, and are considered equal in production capabilities to their other worldwide plants.
Skyjack, the world’s third biggest MEWP (mobile elevating work platform) manufacturer, also based in the US, has been considering its options in China for a while and has yet to make a commitment to manufacturing in the country or the region, but has said it could well happen at some stage.
Another self-propelled manufacturer, Snorkel, which has been making significant gains since Ahern Group bought a majority stake in it five years ago, launched its first production facility in China in October last year.
The 3,000m2 facility in Jintan, outside Chanzhou, opened in 2016 for warehousing and consolidation, and now includes assembly lines for Snorkel products for the Chinese market. Production of two electric slab scissors, the S3219E and S4732E, started in August, with the A46JE electric articulating boom set to follow at the beginning of next year. Other products will follow as the market requires them.
The S3219E has a working height of 7.79m and a lifting capacity of 250kg. It measures 1.78m x 0.81m and can be driven through a standard doorway, and used outside by one operator.
The S4732E is the largest lift in the family of electric slabs. Weighing in at 2,740kg, it can lift 318kg to a working height of 11.8m, and features a roll-out extension deck.
There are a great number of scissor lift manufacturers in China – possibly more than 100. This includes the largest, Dingli, which is making serious inroads in mature markets and has seen good sales growth in Europe.
This situation has been aided by its partnership with Italian-based telescopic handler firm Magni. Dingli owns 20% of Magni, which, in turn, has helped design its latest boom range and distributes its scissors across most of Europe.
No doubt Europe is a focus for many of the other Chinese suppliers too, and they are all making long-term plans in this direction.
Dingli has been targeting North America as well, having just acquired 25% of US-based MEC’s shares, valued at $20 million. Dingli and MEC signed the deal in December and the plan for Dingli is to use the partnership to increase brand awareness and expand its sales channels in North America.
MEC has been in its domestic market for 40 years, and is also expanding its horizons with a concerted effort in Europe. It has introduced a range of series-production scissors and booms to help with this, whereas before it has concentrated on more niche models.
And in the third quarter of last year, MEC launched its new line of DC direct electric drive slab scissors and booms with the new Micro 19 scissor and 13.72m working height 45-AJ articulated boom lift.
The scissor line already features the 1330SE Micro scissor lift through to the 4555SE, and the Micro 19 will expand the offering in the micro class.
Like the 1330, the Micro 19’s ultra-compact design fits into small and tight work areas, and delivers all the benefits of extended duty cycles and faster drive speeds shared by the full direct electric drive line.
MEC is also introducing its new 45-AJ, a 13.72m articulated boom lift. With a 36kW diesel Kubota engine, the 45-AJ claims to be the only machine in its class to offer 360° continuous rotation.
There has also been a recent move by generalist construction equipment manufacturers in China to get into the booming access sector in their country and globally. XCMG, LiuGong and Sany/Palfinger are examples, along with LGLG, which already has joint ventures with Sandvik and Volvo, and is using the Volvo’s lean manufacturing process in its plants.
Its latest scissor is the 16m working height AS1412, sold in China since June 2017, and will be sold overseas from June this year. The machine has a double-load capacity design – platform capacity is 320kg below 14m, automatically adjusted to 200kg above 14m.
Next, to complement the manufacturer’s extensive scissor range, is an electric, 4.6m platform height model, designed to be very compact and light. It can be placed in a lift and is ideal for narrow working sites.
New competition is not just springing from China, however, with the launch of JCB Access last year, based in the UK, and GMG, based in the US.
As to how the established manufacturers view this new competition base, Matt Fearon, president of Genie, Terex AWP, said, “Global competition is increasing with established dirt equipment manufacturers getting into aerials, as well as new manufacturers entering the market.
“At Genie, we are committed to investing in new technologies and product innovations that will continue to position us as a global market leader in the aerial equipment space.”
For Genie’s scissor lift line, Fearon said it was looking at new product developments and solutions to satisfy new industry standards, while focusing on value to customers.
“As we increase our product offerings, we are also committed to building out the services and business solutions to support our products and our customers after the sale,” he said.
Evolving product mix
JLG Industries’ has also been stepping up to the global competition over recent years, with an evolving product mix.
Its latest scissor products are the 4025R, and the addition of the 330 and 430LRT to the existing 530LRT, to create an LRT family, introduced in March 2017. The 4045R features a slim design – 1,143mm – for movement in and around tight work areas.
It is the first JLG electric scissor lift to offer side forklift pockets, allowing a wide range of forklifts to be used for loading or unloading. In addition, the lift’s self-centring feature uses a five-level scissor design with fewer linkage points versus six-level models in the market.
Fewer linkage points improves operator comfort when working at the machine’s maximum 12.19m height.
The 4045R is also one of the few scissor lifts in its category with both an indoor and outdoor rating. Operators can drive the machine at full height indoors and at a maximum 8.53m outdoors for enhanced versatility.
Rafael Nunez, JLG’s product manager, scissor lifts, said the company had a variety of technologies built into its existing scissor lifts that helped make operations simpler and more intuitive, and provided improved reliability.
At JCB Access, the company said, “As one of the new entrants, JCB Access is excited by the opportunity we see in the market. Using our existing dealer distribution network around the world, we can provide industry-leading aftermarket support, both from a service provision and spare parts perspective.”
JCB Access was launched in February last year, as was its range of electric scissors, and it is aiming at the UK, Germany, France, the US and Canada in the first phase, and at Turkey, the Middle East, and southern and northern Europe in phase two.
The range starts at 15ft (4.57m) platform height, through to 45ft (13.71m), with the nomenclature notably set in feet as its worldwide norm. In 2018, JCB Access will add to the range with the launch of three compact diesel scissor models, ranging from 26ft (7.92m) platform height to 40ft (12.19m) platform height.
At the beginning of this year, JCB introduced a range of five electric scissor lifts, powered by lithium-ion batteries – the S1530E, S1930E, S2032E, S2646E and the S2646E, offering working heights of 6.6m through to 10.1m.
The Dutch-based rental company Hoogwerkt has already placed an order for 420 of the innovative machines to form the company’s new green rental business.
JCB Access managing director Jonathan Garnham, who took over from former MD Richard Butler at the beginning of this year, said, “Lithium ion-powered scissor lifts will offer real benefits to our customers around the world, particularly in significantly reducing total cost of ownership.”
The lithium-ion design was created in response to customer demand, including from Hoogwerkt. The company is establishing a green rental business across its home country, with a web-based ordering system and hourly rental periods. Having a simple, safe recharging system was a critical component of the company’s development plan.
By offering a range of scissor lifts with lithium-ion batteries, in place of conventional lead acid units, JCB Access believes it has delivered a solution that will allow platforms to operate for up to 40% longer between recharging periods. Recharging times are reduced by up to 50%.
While electric scissors are well established, although not lithium-powered ones, electric and hybrid booms are making an entrance into the industry.
Niftylift, well known for its hybrid technology, recently launched its 21m working height HR21 4x4 (MKII) boom, which has replaced the HR21 4x4 (MK1) in Niftylift’s self-propelled range.
It represents the first major update to the HR21 since its launch 10 years ago and includes numerous and significant improvements to its weight and performance. At 6,640kg, it is very light, leading to lower floor and point loadings, allowing it to be used on more locations and with lower transport costs. The Second-Generation Niftylift Hybrid power option, on the other hand, offers 41% reduction in fuel consumption compared to the first generation.
Niftylift has also just launched the HR12L (low-weight), all-electric, 12m working height boom. The HR12L is 1.79m wide and weighs just 2,540kg, allowing it to be transported on a trailer, for low-cost transportation. It is powered by AGM (maintenance-free) batteries that offer more than double the capacity of its predecessor, allowing it to work for extended duty cycles measured in days rather than hours.
Focusing on responding to rapidly rising market demand for clean, quiet, low and emissions-free access solutions, and machines that offer the ability to lift heavier loads, Genie hybrid and electric models include the 20m Genie Z-60/37 hybrid articulating boom lift, 12m Genie Z-33/18 electric articulating boom lift, and 11.89m Genie GS-4047 electric slab scissor lift.
Several trends in the scissor sector have been noticed by Matthew Elvin, CEO of Snorkel.
He said, “In terms of safety, platform load sensing is becoming compliant with the new ANSI A92.20 standard, and active secondary guarding is necessary for operator protection.
“For productivity, we have included the electric drive system for longer battery life, and considered alternative battery styles, such as lithium, for faster recharges and longer life spans.”
He added, “Lastly, in terms of applications, we are looking further into low floor loading machines. These purpose-built machines will remove unnecessary weight without jeopardising durability.”
In 2015, Snorkel introduced four new electric slab scissor lifts with the S3219E, S3226E, S4726E and S4732E.
In April 2016, two higher capacity electric slab scissor lifts were introduced – the S3215E and the S3220E – bringing the total to six in the range. Now Snorkel plans to launch the lightweight S3215L electric slab scissor lift.
Built to handle the toughest job sites, the S3215L delivers a working height of 6.4m and a lift capacity of up to 304kg.
In the foreseeable future, Elvin believes an electric drive system will become dominant because of the efficiency and extended battery life it provides.
Safety and productivity
In the US, the new ANSI standards are set to be introduced this year and will follow the identical Canadian CSA standards adopted in 2017. They form a new relationship between safety and productivity in the access market and represent a new era across the continent, partly because they tie in, to a large extent, with European EN280 standards for MEWPs.
In turn, both standards fall closely in line with international ISO standards, adopted by other countries too, like Australia, and even China with its BS standards.
Genie’s Xtra Capacity models were a response to the new standards, as they provide more capacity in the basket. However, the models are global products and as such were shown at the Intermat exhibition, which took place in Paris, France, during April. They included the 41.15m Genie SX-135 XC, 25.91m Genie S-85 XC or 19.84m Genie SX-65 XC, and 13.86m articulating Genie Z-45 XC booms lifts.
New features on the XC range include the Automatic Envelope Control Technology that provides the ability to retract the boom automatically when it reaches its operating envelope. The system’s low maintenance load-sensor cell continuously checks the weight in the platform in real-time to limit the operating envelope to match the load chart.
At Skyjack, its entire line-up of scissors is being redesigned as part of the incoming ANSI 92.20 standards.
Kristopher Schmidt, product manager, said, “These will all continue to have commonality across the product line with improved service features and a design aimed to improve rental companies’ overall cost of operation.”
The manufacturer’s latest DC scissor is the SJIII 4740, launched in 2015. The main feature is a redesigned single location emergency lowering system and welded outside levels on the scissor stack.
Like all Skyjack products, the SJIII 4740 features SkyCoded wiring systems, which it said made Skyjack machines easy to troubleshoot and repair.
Among the French manufacturers, Manitou has a number of new items in its telehandler and aerial platform range.
The 18m working height 180 ATJ and 16m working height 160 ATJ articulating booms both now offer a Stage V-compliant engine – the first of its kind, according to the manufacturer.
The engine operates without aftertreatment, with the energy used reduced from 26kWh to 19kWh.
The models have also been updated for easier transportation and removal of the basket. They have a new overall design and new wide wheels too.
Manitou also has a newly-launched and updated model in the AWP 100 VJR vertical mast. The 10m working height mast lift has newly-designed counterweight and turret, and is now easily transportable using a forklift.
Haulotte is launching a range of products, including the 16m working height HA16RTJ Pro rough terrain articulating boom, which adds to its new range of booms offering a number of efficiency and operator improvements.
Like the 23m working height HT23 RTJ Pro, launched last year, and the HA26 RTJ Pro, launched earlier this year, the 16m model will come equipped with the Activ’ Lighting System and Stop Emission System, and will be available on the market as early as June.
Joining the new booms is the new vertical mast, the 8m working height Star 8S, adding to the manufacturer’s popular Star series. It will also be available in June.
The Star range will also be enhanced by the addition of Haulotte’s first tracked mast, the Star 6 Crawler.
It has a lifting height of 6m and adds new applications to the Star’s scope, including industrial and building maintenance, and finishing work like plumbing, electricity, air conditioning, heating, lamp light replacement and insulation.
Fellow French manufacturer ATN is extending its electric vertical mast range. The PIAF 12E-D is an evolution of the Piaf 12E. It offers a 12.65m working height, a 352° structure rotation, zero tailswing, a 200kg capacity in the platform and a 30% gradeability.
The main feature of the 12E-D is its significant 6.05m horizontal outreach and a platform rotation of 2 x 90°.
Turkish-based ELS has the new EL 10, 12 and 14 Makasi scissor platform series. As the numbers suggest, the series comes in 10m, 12m and 14m working heights.
Maximum capacity on the 10m version is 450kg, going down to 300kg, and 150kg on the extension deck across all of them. The heaviest 14m version has a weight of 3,170kg, going down to 2,330kg on the 12m model.
Transport height is 1.91m on the biggest model, and 1.68m on the smallest. All the units in the range have a gradeability of 25%.
The manufacturer’s expanding range of products is also in recognition of the fast-expanding Turkish access market. One of the manufacturer’s latest launches is the Junior 5.5 SP, representing its entry into the low level access sector, and proving that these smaller products are now finding footholds in markets outside of the their main markets.
Working height of the 5.5 SP is 5.5m, while stowed height is 0.77m, or 1.87m with the guardrails. The unit’s width is 0.76m and the length is 1.29m. Total weight is 660kg.
Runshare was among the Chinese-based access manufacturers at Intermat. It had a pair of new electrical scissors on its stand, including the 10m working height, 8m platform height GTJZ08 electric scissor lift, with a capacity of 230kg.
It is designed for quiet and efficient work inside and out. It has a compact structure, with folding sidebars.
They extend on one side (power-driven) or extend on both sides (diesel-driven), which can enlarge the working face. The trays in both sides of the chassis can be swung out, which facilitate the maintenance, inspection and replacement.
The 12m working height GTJZ10 electric scissor was also there. It has a capacity of 320kg.