Rock solid

24 April 2008

The new MEC 3072RT scissor at the Rental Show. A higher 3772 version is also available.

The new MEC 3072RT scissor at the Rental Show. A higher 3772 version is also available.

One of the by-products of a booming market is that manufacturers have the resources to invest in their product lines again. Nowhere is that more evident than in the rough terrain scissor lift sector.

In the last few months buyers have seen new machines from Genie, MEC Aerial Work Platforms, Haulotte Group, Skyjack, Holland Lift and Iteco - not to mention the rebirth of the Liftlux range under new owners JLG.

To add to that, several manufacturers promise more to come: Haulotte has said it will have 18 m to 32 m scissor lifts before the end of this year; MEC will have a range of four new large rough terrain models by August; and Skyjack too is promising a new range of high reach scissors (although not before the end of 2007) as well as a refreshing of its well-known 9250 machine. Aichi of Japan, meanwhile, still has plans to become a full-line access manufacturer - offering more scissors in the process - although the company tells AI that we will have to wait to the Bauma exhibition in Germany in 2007.

Of all the manufacturers who have been benefiting from the upturn in demand, it is MEC, based at the ex-UpRight production plant in Fresno, California, that has been among the most impressive in terms of growth. Jim Tolle, the company's president, tells AI that production in 2006 will reach 5000 scissors, up from 2000 last year. If that sounds like a big increase, he says confidently that the Fresno facility has the capacity to make 1200 a month.

The company has been manufacturing the modified versions of the Mayville Engineering Co (MEC) scissors for the past few years, and having started with electric models it is now adding mid- and large-sized RT models to the range.

Mid-sized models

At the Rental Show the company showed the first of two mid-sized models, the 3072RT, a 36 ft (10.9 m) working height model that will soon be joined by the 3772RT, a 43 ft (13.1 m) working height version. The two share base dimensions of 2.98 m (L) and 1.83 m (W) and the models weigh 3329 kg and 3856 kg, respectively. Cage carrying capacities are 454 kg (on the 3072) and 340 kg for the higher model. Both have ground clearances of 21.3 cm.

Mr Tolle says the RTs use “rock solid” components and are designed for “extreme durability and extreme conditions”. Self-levelling axles are an option, as is the company's 4WD Quad-Trax system using a variable displacement pump. “The biggest complaint with RT scissors is if a machine loses traction on one wheel it stops”, says Mr Tolle, “this machine can lose traction on three wheels and still drive”. Hyperbole it may be, but the point (and claim) is clear: the machine will go almost anywhere.

The Quad-Trax will cost an extra US$2885 (€2420) on the 3072RT and the outriggers will add $7019 (€5900) to the standard list price of $53654 (€45100). Arjan Roelse, managing director of MEC Europe - MEC's European dealer - says the larger 3772 RT model will popular in Europe; “It's a size that no-one has”, he says.

These two mid-size RTs will be joined by four large RTs later this year; these will have an oscillating axle, 2.31 m widths and platform heights of 7.6 m, 10 m, 12.5 m and 15.2 m. As with the two smaller machines, Quad-Trax 4WD and hydraulic outriggers will be optional extras.

Skyjack has also been investing in its compact RT scissors, launching 32 ft (9.7 m) and 38 ft (11.6 m) working height models with the same widths - 68 in (1.73 m) - as the two new MEC models. These add to the two 8243 and 8850 mid-size RT models the company introduced last year.

The new compact models, however, are designed to provide a lower cost, compact RT option for Skyjack customers. “It's been a hole in our line for some time”, says Dave Stewart, Skyjack's vice president for sales and marketing. As a result, unlike most Skyjack scissors, which are axle drive models, the new compacts use lower priced hydraulic drives.

The scissors come standard with dual fuel engine, 4WD, a 5 ft (1.5 m) roll-out extension deck, and options including diesel engine and independent levelling outriggers. They are drivable at full height with deck extended; feature 90 degree swing out engine tray and have up to 1250 lb (567 kg) platform capacity.

Dave Stewart says ease of maintenance is another feature of the scissors; “The newly designed manifold tilts out for easy access and the engine swings out completely for service via a single quick release catch.”

He says the new scissors represent the birth of a new generation of Skyjack scissors; “it has all the performance that users have come to expect with all of the industry leading reliability, durability and serviceability, at a price that will help combat today's competitive rental rates.” The compacts will be available in North America by March, and at the start of the third quarter for the rest of the world, including a European CE version.

If MEC's Quad-Trax system is designed to propel the scissor over all kinds of terrain, Genie Industries has been similarly focused on improving rough terrainability. The company has introduced a new traction control drive system for its GS-68 RT series of RT scissors, which has been developed at the request of its customers.

The traction control uses added combiner divider valves to divide and isolate hydraulic flow to each wheel, allowing each wheel to work independently and transferring power to the ground even when one or more wheels lose ground contact. John Norton, Genie product manager for scissors, says; “Our customers, especially those in the Northeast [of North America], face some pretty severe conditions. Depending on the season, they can be up to their ankles in mud, knee deep in snow or covered with ice. So when we set out to improve the traction on our GS-68 series, we knew we had to take it one wheel at a time.”

Gradeability with the new system is 35% to 40%, and the scissors come with two drive modes - Series Mode for flat ground and Parallel Mode for going up hills at lower speed and maximum torque. The scissors - there are two in the 68 RT series, the 32 ft (9.7 m) working height GS-2668 RT and the 38 ft (11.6 m) GS-3268 RT - also have a new hydraulic dynamic braking system in addition to the standard spring-applied hydraulic release parking brake; “The result is smoother control, particularly on rough terrain, less wear and tear and greater operator confidence”, says Mr Norton.

Long-decks are the key feature of Haulotte's new SXL range of diesel rough terrain scissors. With working heights of 12 m (H 12 SXL), 15 m (H 15 SXL) and 18 m (H 18 SXL), the scissors have platform sizes of 7.3 m by 1.9 m, platform capacities of 700 kg and automatic levelling outriggers as standard. (These machines were launched in North America at the recent Rental Show in Orlando, and will be known as the HS 3388 XL, 4388 and 5388.) The scissors have stowed dimensions of 5.3 m (L) by 2.25 m (W), ground clearance is 0.27 m and gradeability is 40%.

JLG, meanwhile, has supplemented its own range of rough terrain scissors - the 260MRT, 3394RT and 4394RT models, plus two electric RT units - with the acquisition of the Liftlux electric and diesel models. The Liftlux diesel range comprises seven models with platform heights of between 15.3 m and the 32.0 m. The company says it may well have the 32 m model at Intermat - it has a carrying capacity of 1400 kg and a 2.9 m wide by 7.85 m long deck - but failing that will show the almost as impressive 26 m version. Consideration is still being given over whether to market this range in North America, although a final decision has still to be made.

All this activity reflects the high demand for RT machines, of all sizes. Holland's Lift's Menno Koel told AI last month that it had orders for five of its massive 34 m MegaStar machines, and Genie's senior vice president at Genie Industries, Roger Brown, speaking at the Rental Show, said; “I measure production of RT scissors as indicative of the health of the industry. For the last 18 months it has been really growing and really strong - it's very encouraging.”

Encouraging for platform buyers as well: the longer the boom in sales continues, the greater the choice of scissor suppliers and models.

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