High times for low-level

10 April 2008

The Pak-Flat Podium, launched by Birchwood Products in Nottingham, UK in February 2007, has received

The Pak-Flat Podium, launched by Birchwood Products in Nottingham, UK in February 2007, has received the ‘Best Product of the Year' Award at Hire Association Europe's Hire Awards of Excellence 2007, h

As Peter Ellis, operations director of Planet Platforms near Leeds in the UK, says; “The Work At Height regulations have resulted in all physical working activity being assessed by organisations and not just work carried out ‘at height'. A growing trend is companies looking for low-level access to use for shelf-stacking and other duties that were previously not considered to be work at height.”

That scrutiny and concern means more, and more varied, equipment for low-height access, and as you would expect, designers are finding opportunities to exhibit ingenuity.

Take mobile towers, a long-time popular means for low-level access. Perhaps the newest of the type is the all-aluminium 1XL from Zarges-Tubesca in Germany, which offers platform heights from 1 to 9 m by assembling 2 m lift sections.

The tower uses 50 mm tubing, with an allaluminium trapdoor platform with non-slip surface. The base unit and platform pack, which together provide1 m of height, list at €1050. With the four modules necessary to build to 9 m platform height, list price is €4000.

Further west, from Altrex in The Netherlands, comes the 5000-series of modular scaffolding, launched at Bauma. The series comprises a variety of parts that combine to form standard configurations of rolling towers 5100/5200, the stairway tower 5300, folding scaffolds 5400/5500, and the modular triangular bridge (MTB).

Altrex has renewed the K2 folding tower, part of its 4000 series, designed for both interior and exterior use. The model has base dimensions of 0.75 by 1.85 m and extends to a platform height of 3.8 m, and its capacity meets the EN 1004 class 3 standard of 200 kg/m2 loading.

The Dutch company's other folding tower, the K1, is under revision for a release in February or March.

Those wanting an insulated tower might look to the UK at Youngman Group's BoSS Zone 1, glass-reinforced-plastic tower. It is available in 850 and 1450 mm ladder spans, and capacities are 225 kg per platform and 720 kg per tower.

Described by Birchwood in the UK to be the “world's first, ‘no power' self-erecting tower” is the Razor Deck 2M. It extends from its flat-packed transport state to 0.55, 1.0, or 2.0 m platform heights using tensioned springs. Offering a capacity of 150 kg, it weighs 82 kg and has a deck size of 1000 by 700 mm.

Using power to elevate its 1500 by 780 mm platform is Planet Platform's Power Tower. Also built in the UK, it is a push-around, 12-V battery-powered model with a working height of 5.1 m and a capacity of 250 kg.

Platforms and steps

Youngman in the UK says its new Work Platform is 11 platforms in one, providing working heights up to 5.15 m. Its configurations include: a double-height platform, two single-height platforms, two extension ladders, two step ladders, and four single-section ladders. The platform has a trapdoor and is sized at 1850 by 495 mm.

Youngman also offers the P1000 podium, whose 500 by 600 mm platform provides a working height of just less than 3 m. It has splayed legs that act as stabilisers, enabling it to withstand a lateral load of nearly 50 kg, says the company.

Zarges' ZAP III Z600 Platform has a foot lever to adjust its platform height between 400 and 1200 mm. It weighs 40 kg and has two castors for easier movement while extended.

Also new from Zarges is the Folding Profort, which comes in three or four tread heights and has a tool tray, wheels, stabilizer, and a rear guardrail. It folds to 1420 by 650 by 340 mm.

In Italy, meanwhile, Genex is developing a new, low-cost version of its well-established UNI-TEC tower, as well as the new UNI-TEC IN scaffold tower, designed for working on live power lines. This tower uses special foam filled tubes to provide the insulating protection and has been developed with an Italian power utility company that carries out live line work.

Altrex has launched a new lightweight, telescopic, folding ladder, the Varitrex-Teleprof. Altrex says Its hinges and telescopic mechanism make it easy to use in areas with varying heights, such as a stairwell, and it telescopes down to one-fourth of its extended length, making it easy to transport.

As you can see, the variety of low-height access equipment available almost matches the variety of tasks performed at low height. It seems a safe bet that both will continue to grow.

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