Scissors in focus
By Euan Youdale20 May 2014
MEC’s 6092RT is the largest scissor to be manufactured in North America
Scissor lifts may not be the most glamorous products when it comes to access equipment but they are perhaps the most important, particularly if we look at sales volumes. For that reason manufacturers are busy working out ways to save their customers time and money on the jobsite.
One of the busiest companies this year has been Skyjack. Apart from announcing the winner of its Quest2013 to find the oldest working machine produced in the manufacturer’s 30 year history, it has also sold its 100000th SJIII 3219 scissor.
The year-long Quest 2013 search was launched at last year’s Rental Show in Las Vegas and took in most regions of the world, including South America and Asia. Finally the oldest surviving machine, a 6.4 m working height SJ006-10, was tracked down in Skyjack’s home country of Canada.
Kraner Electrical, a Guelph, Ontario-based company, which provides electrical maintenance and installation for heavy industries, purchased the used SJ006-10 at Bolton Auction House in May 1996. But the machine, with a serial number of 00E, dates back to 1985. Skyjack awarded Kramer with its prize of a new 19 ft working height SJIII 3219 scissor at this year’s Rental Show in Orlando.
Meanwhile, at the Rental Show, Chicago, USA-based Metrolift, was celebrating its purchase of the 100000th SJIII 3219. The company has a fleet of 1800 machines, with 1000 of them being Skyjack scissors. According to Skyjack it is the world’s best-selling scissor platform.
The next month at ConExpo, in Las Vegas, Skyjack was making its move into the next generation of scissors. The company launched a new electrically powered rough terrain model, the SJ6832 RTE - the first Skyjack product to be completely AC powered. Skyjack described it as the “most compact machine on the market that is capable of lifting 1000 pounds to 32 feet.” It is the only machine in its category with four-wheel drive and 45% gradeability as a standard design, says the company.
The zero-emission scissor lift was built on the same chassis as the existing diesel and dual fuel 68RT units. “There is more and more demand for something with zero emissions as it’s more universal on the job site – being the first in and last out,” says Skyjack president Brad Boehler.
It’s effectively the same machine as the traditionally-powered 68RT lifts from the operator’s point of view, says Mr Boehler, with a plug in or generator option. The dual fuel units currently only have 40% gradeability, making the new electric scissor surpass its siblings’ performance by 5%.
Foam-filled non-marking tires, near-zero noise levels, zero emissions and the tightest turning radius in its class make the transition from outdoor to indoor jobs easier than ever, Skyjack says. Terex AWP has also been making the running with electric option rough terrain machines. Its latest offering is the new GS-69BE (Bi-Energy) hybrid electric scissor lift series, first launched in January this year, then shown at the Rental Show in Orlando, in February. It’s the evolution of the current Genie 69 in RT and DC scissor series. “They are the first rough terrain, high performance electric scissors with an onboard integrated generator to self-charge the batteries and supply power to the platform and chassis,” says a company spokesman.
The 69BE series is available in 26 ft (7.9 m), 33 ft (10 m), and 40 ft (12.2 m) models. Included is a 5 ft (1.52 m) slide out extension deck and a lift capacity of 680 kgs. As the jobsite progresses it can switch to hybrid or electric to meet rough terrain or indoor slab environments. When the power management hybrid operation is selected, the system automates the charging function of the integrated generator, maintaining the battery charge and allowing the operator to focus on getting the job done. All models are also equipped with an on-board charger for wall power charging. Later this year Terex AWP will be introducing material handling accessories for the Genie scissor series and it is developing performance improvements to be announced over the next one to two years.
At JLG, Jeff Ford, global product director, aerial work platforms, thinks further expansion of direct electric drive is inevitable. “Originally back in the 90s with electric booms and now with electric scissors, the use of electric drive has just really changed everything. Not only does it reduce leak points but it provides a lot more duty cycle which people appreciate, because they forget to plug scissors in, etc, and so I think that’s something you will see expanding in the scissor market.”
Confirming that theory is UK-based AFI-Uplift; it has invested UK£2 million (US$3.3 million) in scissors, booms and truck mounts. It includes 90 Skyjack electric scissor lifts and 15 Genie bi-energy boom lifts. The Skyjack scissor lift investment comprises 50 SJ3219s, 30 SJ4632s and 10 SJ3226s, whilst the Genie booms are all Z4525s.
AFI director Steve Williams says the new lifts will meet an increasing demand for these types of machine. “We are seeing that the market is moving further towards electric machines for use in internal maintenance and repair work, particularly in factories and for facilities management operations.”
Returning to the Rental Show we can see how compact machines are increasingly sought after. Snorkel showcased the S3970RT, previewed at Bauma, which is now ANSI certified and available to order in the US. The compact, rough terrain scissor provides a maximum platform height of 37 feet, 8 inches (11.5m) but is 5 feet, 10 inches (1.8m) wide. With a lift capacity of 771 pounds (350kg) and a roll-out deck extension for extra reach, the S3970RT, “is ideal for working in confined spaces, such as in between industrial buildings,” the company says.
The company also showed a compact, mini scissor, the now-ANSI-certified S3970RT which was previewed at Bauma. The 10 ft platform height, 30 inch wide S3010E is now ANSI certified for the North American market. The company says the mini scissor stems from interest in Europe for the Pop-Up product line, but with a need for a driveable option. The S3010E has a “high amp/hour rating for an extended operating period between battery charges.”
With a gross weight of 1091 pounds (495kg), it is still lightweight enough for many floors with load-bearing restrictions. The machine is able to pass through standard interior doorways.
Ease of use
Simplicity is key to much product development. JLG’s now well documented RS scissors designed for customers looking for a lower price entry point was originally introduced to emerging markets, and then launched into Europe and North America about a year ago.
“For example, in Asia and India it gives us a lower entry point,” confirms Mr Ford, “A lot of people in India have been using used equipment and they have been trending towards buying newer models. They used to buy very old equipment, now they are buying three, four, five, six-year-old equipment, so their price point is approaching new and the idea behind the RS model was to get closer to the used price with a machine that was simple and easy to service to help us increase adoption in emerging markets.”
Requirements in platform height are different too across the world. Mr Ford says, “If you look at markets like the US and Northern Europe the six metre height has by far the lion share of the market. When you get to a market like China, the 10 m height is really the leader because those lower heights are still being reached by other means.”
Tonya Wen, international marketing manager with Chinese manufacturer Runshare Heavy Industry agrees with the Mr Ford’s prognosis. “The best-selling products have been 10 m and 8 m, but now customers ask for 12 m with a price similar to 10 m.”
Ms Wen explains the 10 m platform height does not now meet requirements of installation and maintenance applications, so 12 m will become the most common height. To confirm this situation Runshare has just launched the 12 m compact GTJZ12 electric scissor. An 18 m diesel scissor will follow in the near future, says the company.
Brazil is Runshare’s biggest market, providing 60% of sales, while South East Asia is on the increase with a current sales percentage of 10. “They are widely used in the construction of high-speed railway and subway stations. Mainly because of the tight schedule and labour costs rising,” says Ms Wen.
“Users, especially in the rental market, have far more stringent requirements for reliability, and are more sensitive to price. Rental companies make large purchases, so the price is very important to them. However, simplifying the structure must not mean that there are reduced functions,” adds Ms Wen.
Continuing on the themes discussed so far, Mantall launched its re-designed W-Series scissor lift with lower weight at the BICES exhibition in Beijing, China, during October last year.
The machine’s chassis has been modified so that it is now hollow and a counterweight has been added to maintain stability. In addition, the XDW180 self-propelled scissor lift was on display. It has an 18 m working height and feature a wide work platform, four wheel drive and a diagnostics system to help pinpoint any maintenance issues.
Other on-board technology includes a tilt level sensor and proportional controls. The XD140 RT, meanwhile, is a rough terrain model with a working height of 14 m. This machine also boasts a tilt level sensor and proportional controls.
Fellow Chinese manufacturer Sinoboom has also been busy with new products. Its recent offerings include the 4 m GTJZ0408S, 6 m GTJZ0608/GTJZ0608S, 8 m GTJZ0808, 12 m GTJZ1012, and 16 m GTJZ1623D. Its biggest markets are the Middle East and South America with Europe and North America being developing markets. The company’s next products, the 4 m GTJZ0408S and 6 m GTJZ0608S will conform to requirements in those latter markets, namely light, simple to control machines, suitable for indoor work conditions, such as warehousing, supermarkets and workshops and fitting into an elevator and through a doorway. Ergonomic design will also be a critical element.
Eileen Chen, Sinoboom Heavy Industry regional manager for Europe & North America, says, “Scissors are more compact and more delicate, paying more attention to safety, energy conservation, stability and durability, as well as modularity. Simplified operation and easy maintenance of the machines are important, along with enhanced parts that have commonality across the different heights of scissor lifts.”
Concerning North America, Dingli is heading there with gusto. It was exhibiting its scissor and vertical mast products in North America for the first time at ConExpo. The Chinese manufacturer has been in the US for 10 years with dealer Bellymore but only for its pusharound stock picker products.
Now Dingli is actively seeking a distributor for the scissor and vertical mast lines. So far the manufacturer has not sold any of these products in North America. But with the right dealer it hopes to sell up to 1000 units there in the next two years. In comparison, the company said it has more than 3000 scissors in Europe.
Aiming itself at the mature European and US markets is US-based MEC Aerial Work Platforms. It has introduced a 60 ft (20.2 m) rough terrain scissor to compete with European-produced models in their home countries. It made its debut at ConExpo.
The MEC 6092RT is the largest scissor to be manufactured in North America and joins the MEC ‘92’ Ultra-Deck rough terrain scissor lift series. It is based on the existing MEC 5492RT, which up until now has been North America’s tallest production scissor lift.
“The 6092RT takes large platform scissor lifts to heights that have been designated only for boom lifts, in the North American market,” said a company spokesman.
Jim Tolle, MEC director of international markets, said, “The justification behind the 6092RT is to address the highly priced European competitive models. We have recognised a large gap in the large deck European scissor lift product range versus the large deck North American product range.
“You go from the aggressively priced North American made scissor lift, which up until now, has been limited by height to the highly priced European made scissor lift. Until now the few metres of increased height would cost the customer a 50%-100% premium over a North American made machine.”
The company has also launched a new range of aircraft ground support equipment (GSE). First to be released in the Aircraft Support series is the MEC 4069RT-A and 4069ERT-A machines, both with a working height of 14 m.
The platforms are designed for aircraft applications, with a large platform of 4.22 m (extended), 400 kg capacity and the ability to form to the curvature of the aircrafts fuselage. Both platforms are available in 4WD diesel, gas/LPG, electric or hybrid power. Mr Tolle says, “The addition of the Aircraft Ground Support Series proves that innovativeness remains alive and well in the AWP industry. The 4069 Aircraft Support Series provides our aircraft maintenance customers with a safer and more productive solution in regards to aircraft maintenance.”
The MEC GSE range offers a new VVC (Variable Vertically Collapsing) guard rail system which allows the operator to position each guard rail independently in a manner where it forms to the curvature of the aircraft’s fuselage. As we can see there are plenty of innovations in the scissor sector, a situation that is set to continue. Summing up the scissor lift industry at the moment, a Terex AWP spokesman says, “With the improving economies, we are seeing a general increase in demand for scissors including RT scissors that are used in construction projects.
“We are seeing an increase in Europe as the large rental fleets gain confidence in the business outlook and are replacing and upgrading their fleets.”