Record attendance at Europlatform access conference
By Murray Pollok17 September 2010
Over 145 delegates attended the fourth Europlatform access rental conference in Madrid, Spain, on 16 September, the largest attendance in the history of the event. The conference is jointly organised by Access International and the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF).
Keynote speaker at the event, was JLG's former president Craig Paylor, who addressed issues including the prospect of competition from manufacturers in Asia, the likely price increases for aerial platforms caused by higher material prices and engine emission regulations, and on the need for rental companies to find a rental model that exploits the full life of machines (see separate story).
Carlos Araoz of GAM explained the company's international strategy and urged rental companies to seek opportunities in developing markets where rental is growing. He also made some provocative remarks about some of GAM's rental competitors in Spain, claiming that they had not followed GAM's efforts to increase rental prices. He said GAM had managed to increase its rates by 8% over the past year.
Nick Mavrick of Volvo Rents argued that companies should target their marketing spend and customer service focus on the small percentage of customers - the ‘best of the best' - who represent the vast majority of their business. "There is the idea that if you make an exception for one customer then you have to make an exception for all customers. It is not true", said Mr Mavrick, who is vice president of marketing at Volvo Rents.
George Marriott of Access Plus, a small but successful access rental company in the UK, explained how he had adopted best practices from market leaders in other industries to create a rental model that had dramatically improved efficiency at the business. The use of hand held computers for sales staff, drivers and mechanics had improved delivery times, the speed of pre-delivery inspections and reduced response times for service call outs.
Asif Latief, marketing director at A-Plant, described how developing a special rental ‘App' for iPhones had allowed sales staff to quote ‘on the road' using the latest available pricing information. Mr Latief said that contracts sealed using iPhones were on average 6% higher than other contracts.
Other speakers included Oliwer Sven Dahms of PartnerLift in Germany and Malcolm Bowers, representing the UK's Access Link, who described the benefits to smaller rental companies of forming re-rental alliances to offer a nationwide service and win business with large contractors.
Although the main theme of the conference was Renting Smart: Efficient Fleet Management the issue of safety was also high on the agenda. Craig Paylor said the core of JLG's business was about safety - "It's why we exist" - and Dr Marco Einhaus, an access safety specialist at German organisation BG Metal, gave the audience an insight into some of the latest safety development in Germany, including the use of safety nets suspended under platforms and special sensors or rails fitted to baskets to prevent the cage coming into contact with structures.
Murray Pollok, managing editor of Access International, gave a short report on the current rental market worldwide, in which he said that the consensus was that developed North American and European access rental markets would recover slowly, with significant investment to grow fleets unlikely before 2012.
See Access International for fuller reports on the presentations. Next year's Europlatform conference will take place on 13 September in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on the day before the APEX exhibition.