The changing landscape of scissors
By Euan Youdale17 April 2018
Two scissor markets making a significant impact on the global stage are the US and China, both for different reasons. Euan Youdale explores the modern scissor environment in light of these two countries.
China has become a hotbed of scissor producing in recent years, not just from Chinese manufacturers but from established manufacturers based outside China that have moved an increasing amount of the production to the country.
JLG and Genie already have well-established manufacturing plants in China, at which electric scissor lifts are a significant proportion of production for the global marketplace, and are considered equal in production capabilities to their other worldwide plants.
Skyjack has been considering its options in China for a while and has yet to make a commitment to manufacturing in the country or the region but has said it could well happen at some stage. Another mainline access equipment manufacturer Snorkel launched its first production facility in China at APEX Asia in October last year.
The 3,000 square metre facility in Jintan, outside Chanzhou, opened in 2016 for warehousing and consolidation, now includes assembly lines for Snorkel products for the Chinese market. Production of two electric slab scissors, the S3219E and S4732E, started in August, with the A46JE electric articulating boom set to follow at the beginning of next year. Other products will follow as the market requires them.
Speaking at Snorkel’s APEX Asia stand, the day before the show, its CEO Matthew Elvin explained. “We are going to be reactive to the local market, serving the needs of the local contractor and rental company in China.” The S3219E has a working height of 7.79m and a lifting capacity of 250kg. It measures 1.78m x 0.81m and can be driven through a standard doorway and used outside by one operator. The S4732E is the largest lift in the family of electric slabs. Weighing in at 2,740kg, it can lift 318kg to a working height of 11.8m and features a roll-out extension deck.
All machines produced at the new plant are part of Snorkel’s existing global range, with components sourced from the same suppliers as its other four manufacturing bases. There are no plans to export any units to markets outside China, and the rest of Asia will continue to receive Snorkel products from its UK- and USA-based facilities.
There are large number of scissor lift manufacturers in China, including the largest Dingli, which is now making serious inroads into mature markets with significant sales in Europe, helped by its partnership with Italy-based Magni. Dingli owns 20% of Magni, which, in turn, has helped design its latest boom range and distributes its scissors across most of Europe. No doubt Europe is a focus for many of the other Chinese suppliers too, and they are all making long-term plans in this direction.
Dingli has been targeting North America too, having just acquired 25% of US-based MEC’s shares, valued at $20 million. Dingli and MEC signed the deal on 1 December, The plan for Dingli to increase brand awareness and expand its sales channels in North America, with the help of MEC, which has been in the domestic market for 40 years.
A Dingli spokesman explains, “With huge demand for replacement and growth expected, the US is a market with tense competition both technologically and commercially for AWP brands. As the place where AWPs first originated, and which is home to world class AWP manufacturers, it is understandably difficult for brands from elsewhere to access it.”
There has also been a recent move by generalist construction equipment manufacturers in China to get into the booming access sector in their country and globally. XCMG, LiuGong and Sany/Palfinger are examples, along with LGMG, which already has joint ventures with Sandvik and Volvo and is using the latter’s lean manufacturing process in its plants.
Its latest scissor is the 16m working height AS1412, sold in China since June of 2017, and will be sold overseas from June this year. The machine has a double-load capacity design: platform capacity is 320kg below 14m, automatically adjusted to 200kg above 14m.
Next, to complement the manufacturer’s extensive scissor range, is an electric, 4.6m platform height model, designed to be very compact and light. It can be placed in an elevator and is ideal for narrow working sites. Second up is a new rough terrain scissor with 16m platform height, four-wheel drive and large deck with high capacity for outdoor use. It will have a closed loop hydraulic drive, with high efficiency and quick response, plus automatic leveling function.
Future advances include improved machine management systems, like battery management to improve maintenance efficiency and reduce the operational costs of rental companies. LGMG already takes sizeable chunk of the China scissor market and plans to extend that reach, “with mass production and manufacturing techniques by LGMG‘s lean production system.”
New competition isn’t just springing up in China, however, with the launch of JCB Access last year, based in the UK, and GMG, headquartered in the US. So, how do the established manufacturers view this new global competition base?
Matt Fearon, president of Genie, Terex AWP, tells AI, “Global competition is increasing with established dirt equipment manufacturers getting into aerials, as well as new manufacturers entering the market. At Genie, we are committed to investing in new technologies and product innovations that will continue to position us at a global market leader in the aerial equipment space.”
For Genie’s scissor lift line, Fearon says it is looking at new product developments and solutions to satisfy the new industry standards, while focusing on value to customers. “As we increase our product offerings, we are also committed to building out the services and business solutions to support our products and our customers after the sale. “Examples of this is our growing refurbishment businesses in Australia and North America, as well as our GSS program in EMEAR. You will also see more Genie programmes come to market as we increase our global footprint.”
JCB Access is also looking forward to the competition. “As one of the new entrants, JCB Access is excited by the opportunity we see in the market. Using our existing dealer distribution network around the world, we can provide industry leading aftermarket support, both from a service provision and spare parts perspective,” says Richard Butler, JCB Access managing director.
JCB’s range of electric scissors was launched in February last year, and aimed at the UK, Germany, France, US & Canada in the first phase, and to Turkey, Middle East, southern and northern Europe in phase two. The range starts at 15ft platform height, through to 45ft, with the nomenclature notably set in feet as its worldwide norm. In 2018 JCB Access will add to the range with the launch of three compact diesel scissor models, ranging from 26ft platform height to 40ft platform height.
The company is pushing straight ahead with technical advances. Butler explains, “We have developed a Lithium battery option on our electric scissor range which allows companies to provide a greener option for rental companies end users. “The Lithium batteries charge up in half the time of normal lead acid batteries and should match the life of the machine, therefore cutting down spend on replacement batteries. We will look to develop this range further in the future.”
Of course, the biggest market by far for scissors remains in North America, with European countries following up. In the US, the new ANSI standards are set to be introduced this year and will follow the identical Canadian CSA standards adopted in 2017. They form a new relationship between safety and productivity in the access market and represent a new era across the continent.
Being the world’s largest market North America is also a hotbed for the latest designs in the scissor sector. Matthew Elvin, CEO of Snorkel, comments, “Over the past few months, we have noticed several trends in the scissor sector. In terms of safety, platform load sensing is becoming compliant with the new ANSI A92.20 standard and active secondary guarding is necessary for operator protection
“For productivity, we have included the electric drive system for longer battery life, and considered alternative battery styles, such as lithium, for faster recharges and longer life spans. Lastly in terms of applications, we are looking further into low floor loading machines. These purpose-built machines will remove unnecessary weight without jeopardizing durability.”
In 2015, Snorkel introduced four new electric slab scissor lifts: the S3219E, S3226E, S4726E, and S4732E. In April 2016, two higher capacity electric slab scissor lifts were introduced – the S3215E and the S3220E – bringing the total to six in the range.
In the first quarter of 2018, Snorkel will launch the lightweight S3215L electric slab scissor lift. Built to handle the toughest job sites, the S3215L delivers a working height of 21 ft (6.4m) and a lift capacity of up to 670 pounds (304kg). Designed to be lightweight without sacrificing performance, this lift weighs in at 2,100 pounds (952kg), which is 600 pounds lighter than the Snorkel S3215E. The dramatic weight loss gave the new Snorkel S3215L a 195 psf. floor load comparable with other “low floor load” lifts, but with greater durability and capability, says the company.
In the foreseeable future, Elvin believes an electric drive system will become dominant due to the efficiency and extended battery life it provides. “Removing all hoses will also become standard so that leak points are limited. Slab scissors are heavily utilised in clean, finished environments, which means any hydraulic oil spills can be costly to clean up.”
Genie is continuing to see a trend towards greater access heights within a smaller footprint, due to the many benefits of using a scissor lift compared to more traditional methods of working at height like ladders, scaffolding and rolling stairs. An example is the Genie GS-4047 electric scissor, introduced in early 2015, which was designed to offer additional lift beyond its 32ft models, while still being compact enough to fit through a standard double door. This combination of a 45ft maximum working height within such a narrow footprint has been extremely popular with customers worldwide
In addition, the ANSI and CSA standard updates in North America will drive a number of changes to Genie scissors over the next 12 months. “These changes will include new features including platform load sense systems, as well as smaller alterations such as toeguards on platform entrances,” says Mike Flanagan, genie product manager, Terex AWP, “Lessons learned from global markets, which have had similar standards in effect for a number of years, will ensure rental and end user customers can count on Genie scissor lifts to maximize their productivity.”
At Skyjack, its entire line-up of scissors is being redesigned as part of the incoming ANSI 92.20 standards. Kristopher Schmidt, product manager, says, “These will all continue to have commonality across the product line with improved service features and a design aimed to improve rental companies overall cost of operation.”
The manufacturer’s latest DC scissor is the SJIII 4740, launched in 2015. The main feature is a redesigned single location emergency lowering system and welded outside levels on the scissor stack. Like all Skyjack products, the SJIII 4740 features SkyCoded wiring systems, which make Skyjack machines the easy to troubleshoot and repair.
“In 2018 we’re seeing new ANSI standards being implemented, which will affect North American products,” confirms Schmidt, “For scissor and mast lifts specifically, this means an increase in weight and decreased personnel rating on most machines. These changes are due to more stringent testing under the new ANSI 92.20 guidelines for manufacturers.”
Therefore, technical advances coming to scissor lifts in the near future include active load sensing systems. The load sensing devices on MEWPs will disable the normal elevating functions of the machine and sound/flash an alarm when the MEWP is overloaded. “This adjustment to North American equipment comes on the cusp of incoming ANSI standards, but this specific adjustment has been active in international markets for nearly a decade,” adds Schmidt.
JLG Industries’ latest scissor products are the 4045R, and the addition of the 330LRT and 430LRT to the existing 530LRT to create an LRT family, introduced in March 2017.
The 4045R features a slim design - 45 inches - for movement in and around tight work areas. It is the first JLG electric scissor lift to offer side forklift pockets, allowing a wide range of forklifts to be used for loading or unloading. In addition, the lift’s self-centering feature uses a five-level scissor design with fewer linkage points versus six-level models in the market.
Fewer linkage points improve operator comfort when working at the machine’s maximum 40ft height. The 4045R is also one of the few scissor lifts in its category with both an indoor and outdoor rating. Operators can drive the machine at full height indoors and at a maximum 29ft outdoors for enhanced versatility.
Rafael Nunez, JLG’s product manager, scissor lifts, says the company has a variety of technologies built into its existing scissor lifts that helps make operations simpler, more intuitive and provides improved reliability. These smart technologies include variable tilt, which allows operators to elevate to limited heights when they are working on slopes. This maximizes the work envelope.
Pressure-based load sensing system (LSS), is another, with no load calibration, allowing machines to be calibrated without test weights and is not temperature sensitive. Customers can calibrate in the field and carry at least 80% of platform capacity without weights, conforming to ANSI 92.2 standards. Also complying to ANSI 92.2 is the indoor or outdoor modes on selected models to meet wind requirements and extend applications.
While, the Delta-Q smart charger helps troubleshoot and diagnose battery or charger issues, extending life and performance. Controlled travel descent and elevation descent allow smooth, safe descent and cushioning of stops. And dual capacity on some models carry more in the platform at lower elevations and ‘restricted’ capacity as the platform raises.
Nunez says, “JLG was first to market with several product safety enhancements that we anticipate will be incorporated into the new standard, including load sensing for actively monitoring loads, stopping a machine’s normal functionality and sounding an alarm when overloaded.
“Hand-operated controls on the platform must also be protected against sustained involuntary operation, preventing further movement of the machine in the direction of trapping or allowing the operator to reverse or stop the trapping movement; more stringent wind force requirements, resulting in outdoor machines with increased weight and reduced capacities; new stability testing requirements, with foam filled or solid tires becoming necessary on most booms and rough terrain scissors; and an increase to scissor rail heights, necessitating fold-down rails on compact models to ensure they fit through standard height doorways,” explains Nunez.
The company says it is dedicated to helping its customers understand and comply with the anticipated changes. To help with that effort, its launched a resource on its website (https://www.jlg.com/en/destination/ansi) with further information.
At Genie, Flanagan says customers can expect electric and hybrid rough terrain scissors to continue to grow as hybrid and battery technology improves. Genie currently has its line of DC rough terrain scissor lifts: the GS-2669 DC, GS-3369 DC and GS-4069 DC models, deliver in rough environments, along with emission-free work in indoor applications. “Future growth in application specific areas will allow customers to leverage what were traditionally rough terrain only scissor lifts for a number of other applications.
“Over the last few years, Genie has also made updates to our line of rough terrain scissor lifts, beyond the major product introductions. Seemingly small changes have been made that have a real impact in the productivity of our rough terrain scissors, including increased telemetry communication capabilities and communized componentry. These updates further enhance serviceability and reduced customers’ parts inventory costs.”