Advances in van mounted aerial work platforms
By Euan Youdale11 August 2021
Payload and gross vehicle weight are two areas that manufacturers of van mounted equipment are focusing on, with the steady move towards more hybrid and electric equipment also very much on their agendas. Euan Youdale reports.
There have been some significant developments in the sector, apart from the release of new products. For example there was the news in March 2021 that van and truck mount manufacturer France Elévateur had acquired Movex, based in Spain.
Established in 1960 near Barcelona, Movex (the brand name used by former owner Talleres Velilla before it sold the company to France Elévateur) produces more than 200 machines a year (9m to 24m working height).
Movex moved into a new 6,000 sq. metre facility, a few kilometres from Barcelona, at the end of 2020. This means that the company doubled its annual production capacity capability to 400 units. France Elévateur, part of the FE Group, said that the acquisition also enabled it to expand its product offering and increase its production capacity.
The acquisition ties in with France Elévateur’s own efforts to expand its van mount platform offering, with the opening of a new production line dedicated to 12m working height van-mounted platforms in September 2020. The workshop has the capacity to produce three machines per day.
The main trends in the sector, explained the company, is the compact cut-away on 3.5 tonne vehicle, with more payload.
France Elévateur is also expanding its offerings in the trend area of electric powered equipment. It recently launched the ZE 100% electric 121 Fcce, mounted on a Renault Master, with 12m of working height and 7m outreach. The range of the van is 120km on a single charge and 25 work cycles for the platform, corresponding to two working days.
Movex has also been expanding its offerings in the key 12m working height category. Its latest products include the TLF12.6, a 12.6m working height model with a 120kg capacity. It is offered without outriggers, representing another trend in the sector for reduced overall footprints.
A second new unit is the 15m working height TLF15 machine, with a fly Jib, 200kg basket and, in this case, two outriggers.
The company stated that the goal for both models was to provide reliable products, combined with a good payload. For example, the TLF15 has an 8m outreach with one person in the basket.
There is also a large number of options to cover current requirements, like ladder supports, flashing beacons, cabinets, working light on basket, a range of interior equipment and tow bar, to name but a few.
Klubb’s weight reduction overhaul
France-based Klubb has revamped its entire range by significantly reducing the weight of its equipment and gaining up to 160kg of additional payload. The updated KL series was first presented at the 2020 JDL Expo in France with the KL32 model offering 530kg payload with no outriggers, which according to Klub is the bestselling unit in the country with its 12.5m working height and 7.3m outreach.
Klubb is presenting further models in the series at upcoming exhibitions, including the 11.8m working height KL26 that is mounted on a cutaway Renault Master, at the 2021 JDL Expo and at the 2021 GIS exhibition in Italy.
The KL26 sits in Klubb’s light product range with an aluminium and lightweight, high resistance High Limit Elasticity (HLE) steel arm, representing a completely revised design to reach a weight of 2,890kg. It also incorporates aluminium fittings and signage, offering up to more than 600kg of payload but again with no outriggers. The model has an outreach of 6.8m.
Designed to be compact, and specifically to have no outriggers, the series is ideally suited for telecoms, CCTV installation and maintenance applications.
Klubb’s entire range can be fitted with the manufacturer’s green pack option, enabling the lift to work with the vehicle engine turned off.
Klubb president Julien Bourrellis explained, “More and more customers ask for green solutions. They are more committed to an eco-responsible approach, but they do not wish to compromise on technical performance.”
Klubb is meeting that challenge with the launch of two 100% electric models on small electric vans, the K20L and the KL21B. These new lifts will have a maximum 300kg payload and an autonomy on the road up to 200km.
The K20L will offer a working height of 10.5m and lateral outreach of 5.80m, and will be available as a cutaway version with the same capabilities. The KL21B will have a 11.40m working height and 6.80m outreach. Both units will have no outriggers.
Klubb claimed that it will organise a European roadshow at the beginning of 2022 to allow potential customers to test these two units. Klubb plan to launch an 18m machine, on a five tonne van that will offer the greatest height in its category, in September 2021.
Versalift offer new technological features
Versalift has also been busy of late, and has an eye on the French market specifically, with the VTL EVO, launched in April 2021. The model was designed to be practical and lightweight and is aimed at telecoms.
A Versalift spokesperson revealed, “In France the telecoms market is requesting simple but reliant vehicles, with high payload at a low price.
“In broad terms we have based the VTL Evo on some of our newest technologies and then stripped away sensors and functionalities, until we had a product, that had just the right balance between technology, functionality and price.”
Products designed for this market are not new from Versalift with the latest VTL EVO following in the footsteps of its first effort, the ETL lift, which was produced by Versalift’s North America wing.
The company then shifted to the lightweight VTL-structure, produced out of Versalift Denmark, before moving onto the EVO range and the VTL-EVO. The next development was an electronic offering, known simply as the EVO line.
Versalift’s two VTL-EVO models, the VTL135-EVO and VTL120-EVO, are mounted on a Renault Master, with the VTL120-EVO offering a cutaway version. The design comes down to new technological features, without compromising on payload and price.
Versalift stated, “Looking at the lifts market towards the telecom industry, we found that many of the products where dated and inefficient. We wanted to create a product that has a more modern and strong profile, and offers our costumers the newest technologies and the best performance.”
One of the added features was a screen at the ground controls, where the lift can be configured and a hybrid option chosen. This hybrid solution, in which the lift uses electrical battery while the vehicle engine is shut off, is not only reliable but keeps the payload and price at the same level of previous models.
Versalift added, “We firmly believe that the future is green, which means moving towards more environmentally friendly solutions like going electrical. The challenge is weight especially, as batteries tend to be heavy and take up payload that the costumers wants for equipment.
“With the new VTL EVO we have opened the door to delivering products that have both the newest technology, as well as the option to go electrical.
And, having re-designed its battery pack, the company also now has a cost-effective electrical alternative to the combustion-powered hydraulic lifts.
Customised units from Custers
Almost all Custers van mount models are now hybrid and increasingly customised according to Paul van Eldijk, the Netherlands-based company’s managing director.
The manufacturer concentrates on the 12m, 14m and 17m working height categories by offering a range of articulated and articulated & telescopic booms.
Van Eldijk explained, “More and more customised and hybrid platforms are requested. Custers has a longstanding experience in the production of aerial work platforms, therefore we have the expertise to fullfil this need for custom-made hybrid platforms.“
Despite the advantages in electric control and power, there is still a call for simpler, hydraulic-based machines. UK-based Ascendant Access has also been updating its 12m amd 15m working height category products, with an upgrade of its long-established VM12.5 and VM15 units.
The models remain simple reverse-articulated products, with a telescopic upper section in the case of the VM15, and all-steel booms with full pressure hydraulic controls. They incorporate a minimum level of electronics and no outreach limiter. They also boast 230kg throughout the working envelope.
Ascendant Access focus on set-up simplicity and speed
Richard Tindale, director at UK-based Cherrypickershop, and speaking on behalf of Ascendant Access, said, “Customers are becoming quite disillusioned about the increasing complexity, expense of maintenance and apparent fragility of designs from manufacturers who are pushing the height and outreach envelope of 3,500kg vans with ever-decreasing payloads as emission control ancillaries add weight.
”Many customers simply need to reach a 10m or 12m lighting column under which they can readily park directly, and have a stable and secure feeling working platform from which to carry out their maintenance or repairs.
“They value speed and simplicity of set-up and ease of repair in case of breakdown outside normal working hours, which is frequently the case with street lighting contractors.”
Ascendant is not planning any major changes or additions to its van-mounted range in the near future. The two existing models cover 85% of the van-mounted platform market in the UK and the company’s major challenge is meeting the increasing order book and reducing lead times.
The UK company recently moved into a new premises at Washington in Tyne & Wear that has four-times the manufacturing area, so allows for a substantial amount of fabrication to be brought in-house.
Aldercote unveils Hawk Series range
Fellow UK-based Aldercote is similarly busy building van mounts for the UK market, both simple all-hydraulic machines like Ascendant Ascent as well as more sophisticated, larger machines.
The company’s latest Hawk Series takes full advantage of today’s capabilities, with the emphasis on high quality components and sophisticated controls. To cater for the requirements of inexperienced operators through to longstanding industry professionals the four new ranges share the same focus on weight reduction, efficiency safety and reliability.
Hawk V and Hawk VX ranges are simple articulating boom designs, equipped with direct hydraulic control. The two boom V range offers a lightweight solution with sufficient range to meet most powered access requirements, while the three boom VX offers the same qualities, with greater height.
The Hawk VZ and Hawk VZX ranges are high performance telescopic designs, offering the largest possible operating envelope and maximum productivity. Features such as dynamic speed optimisation and slew sensitive outreach mean that more tasks can be carried out faster. The VZX offers the largest envelope currently available on a five tonne vehicle, says the manufacturer. All ranges are available on 3.5 tonne vehicles.
The most recent launches from GSR are two hybrid versions of existing models. The E140TJV and E170TJV, with 14m and 17m working height respectively, offer a large payload and the option of driving using the combustion engine or battery power pack. These models can be mounted on up to five tonne vans and offer an effective residual payload of up to one tonne.
Aldercote claim that other features include a long operating autonomy and good residual flow rate, which is essential for the replacement of light bulbs in street lighting that requires a large number of daily work cycles.
There is no need for cables, columns, sockets or long waiting periods with GSR’s rapid charging module. GSR also plans to create a fast-charging hybrid version of its 12.5m platform, offering high loads of about 350kg on 3.5 tonne GVW vehicles.
Jalo & Jalo adds Janneniska truck mount fleet
Jalo & Jalo has acquired the truck mount fleet of fellow Finnish rental company Janneniska Group.
The agreement is a continuation of the deal between the two companies in 2017, when Jalo & Jalo acquired a range of 34m to 78m units from Janneniska Group.
Janneniska will now concentrate on van-mounted lifts, while Jalo & Jalo will continue to expand in the 30m to 104m working height truck mount segment, with the largest in the acquisition being two 104m Bronto S104HLA units.
Jalo & Jalo has also set foot in Sweden with the recent partial acquisition of Stockholm-based rental company Höjdliftar.