UK access market in focus
By Euan Youdale16 May 2022
The UK access equipment market is one of the most established in the world and remains strong despite the economic challenges effecting Europe in general, including rising inflation and the effects of supply chain, causing longer lead times and higher prices.
While the market is buoyant, there are concerns that equipment bought with low interest finance in recent years will mean the rental sector comes under strain as a result of higher repayment rates associated with inflation, and other market conditions.
Vertikal Days provided a good insight into the current access landscape of the UK market during its two-day run at the East of England Showground last week.
Among the traditional manufacturers we have come to expect at this show in previous years, there were a plethora of Chinese OEMs, with large stands, such as LGMG, XCMG, Dingli, Sinoboom and Zoomlion.
In the past these manufacturers used shows like these in the hope of making their mark on the market. Today, some of them already have and it is now more a question of how much market share they take and which ones are more successful than others.
LGMG, represented in the UK by Access Platform Sales (APS), for example has had a strong start to the year with 500 orders for the UK, following 650 last year. Steve Cooling, managing director at APS, says he hopes the numnber will increase to 1,200 units by the end of the year, covering scissor lifts and booms. LGMG now offers offers a full range of kit, including lithium as an option from its 19ft scissor lifts to 100ft boom lifts.
Dingli is also continuing to increase its numbers in the UK and had a large range if units on its stand.
One noticeable omission from the show was JLG. It is holding its alternative New Perspective event near Leicester, in the UK, event, which ran through last week and is continues this week. Haulotte was also missing from the show.
On site was Genie and Skyjack. Genie was highlighting the return of its Z-45/25J RT articulated boom lift to Europe, the Middle East and India. The 16m working height articulated boom lift has been in circulation for more than 30 years but in 2019 it was phased out in Europe and North America in conjunction with the launch of the Z-45 Xtra Capacity (XC). (See the full news story).
A range of other plans for Genie include the launch of the industry’s first hybrid telescopic boom and lightweight, electric, telescopic boom lift in the 60ft (18m) height class later this year. With a 20.6m (67ft, 2in) working height and an 18.6m (61ft, 2in) platform height, the Genie S-60 DC and S-60 FE boom lifts build on Genie’s 100% electric DC and hybrid FE technology.
The company also said it is also set to introduce lithium to its scissors as an option in the third quarter of this year. And the company will actively start selling lithium options in its booms next year.
Skyjack turned its focus to safety for this year’s Vertikal Days, with the addition of the manufacturer’s new XStep and its Secondary Guarding Lift Enable (SGLE) features, to the stand.
The appeared alongside the company’s latest SJ12 E/16 E vertical mast and the SJ45 AJ+ and SJ60 AJ+ articulating booms.
As a result of the commonplace practice of operators standing on railings to gain a little more height to access small areas, Skyjack introduced the XStep, which provides operators with increased and safer access into and around tight, restricted spaces and avoids.
There was a large range of electric equipment at the show this year.
They included Niftylift’s expantion of its electric offering. Last week the company announced two new low weight all-electric boom lifts, the HeightRider 15E (HR15E) and HeightRider 17E (HR17E), with the HR15E making its debut at Vertikal Days. The new HR15E and HR17E can lift two people and their tools to working heights of 15.7m and 17.2m, respectively, or a working outreach of 9.4m.
Indeed, electrification was a major discussion point at the show and Sinoboom has taken the step in Europe of skipping diesel booms lifts to just offer electric-powered booms, certainly in the short term.
The electric booms will cover 22m to 34m working height for the articulated models, and 16m to 24m working height for the telescopic products. The policy falls in line with an increasing view in the industry that while diesel boom lifts are unlikely to be become redundant any time soon, the market is picking up quickly, with one argument being that diesel products may be less easy to sell on in five years’ time, or so, when a rental company might be looking to renew its fleet.
On the stand were a range of products, including Sinoboom’s first telescopic boom lift in Europe, the TB20EJ Plus, with a 20m platform height and load capacity of 300kg/454kg (unrestricted/restricted), and 45% gradeability, patented anti-skid technology and active oscillation.
Joining it is the AB18EJ articulating boom lift. The model has an 18m platform height, 230kg load capacity and enhanced lifting capability of 0m -18m in on 68 seconds. The manufacturer’s electric AC-drive RT scissors were also represented on the stand, being new to the European market. The 5389RE rough terrain scissor lift has a 16.2m platform height, 680kg load capacity.
The company claims to have major orders from Loxam and is under discussion with other major accounts. The company has a comprehensive dealership network across Europe and in the UK is represented by Pinnacle Platforms.
Continuing the electric theme was Dingli, which represented its full range of electric equipment at Vertikal Days, with models from its large capacity electric boom series, articulated booms, the 22m large electric rough-terrain scissor series, and AC scissor series with 8m - 16m working heights.
The large-load boom series offers 20 models with working heights from 24.1m - 30.3m and a maximum load 454kg. The ‘axle model’ rough terrain electric boom series has working heights from 20.28m - 22.21m and a maximum load 230kg.
Its electric rough terrain scissor series has working heights of 12m to 32m, and a maximum load of 1,000kg, whiile the AC scissor series covers working heights if 7.8m - 15.7m, with maximum load capacity of 250kg.
Finally the manufacturer’s new Oil-free AMWP7-8100L vertical mast lift was there. The machine is purely electrically driven, and is suitable for areas with narrow aisles like warehouse and supermarkets.
Looking to find distributors in the UK, along with the reast of Europe was XCMG. It was there under its own steam with the plan to find the right partner. The company told AI that it was in talks with three companies at present and by next month will have chosen which one it will be.
Like many Chinese manufacturers, XCMG is developing its boom lift line for the European market and other markets outside of China. The company already has a 20m electric articulating model and will introduce an electric 28m telescopic unit in the fourth quarter this year.
ELS is also concentrating on electric equipment with new protypes on its stand as part of the Turkish manufacturer’s expanding range. The three prototypes included a 19ft narrow track scissor lift. The AC-drive EL19 scissor has a 500kg capacity across the extendable platform, which is 1.2m wide and 3.58m long, with an added 1.56m with the extension. The prototype on show had a single extension but the model is set to have an extension on both sides when it is ready around October this year.
Joining it on the stand was the RT12-E rough terrain scissor lift, which is expected to be in production ready in the next three months. It has a working height of 12.2m and a capacity of 500kg. The 4WD model has a width of 3.05m and length of 2.8m, and has a 40% gradeability and a total weight of 5100kg.
The AC drive unit is set to have an autonomy of seven hours working on a full charge. The company is also developing a high-speed charger to charge the battery up to 80% in 1.5 – 2 hours, which is being developed through a partnership.
A third prototype was the E12-e, which brings its slab scissor range into a AC direct drive offering, which is to be expanded across the slab range.
Ruthmann and Versalift were on a shared stand following Versalift parent company Time Manufacturing’s acquisition of Ruthmann last year. With the new ownership, Versalift UK has also taken on the dealership for Ruthmnan for sales and after sales service across the territory.
This is a big development for Ruthmann in the UK and the plan is to now expand its sales, which are relatively undeveloped in the UK market, through an expanded parts offering and national service via Versalift UK’s long-established national network.
This combined effort will be overseen at the company by Chris Wrenn, who has been appointed into the new post of head of sales, responsible for Versalift and Ruthmann products. Among those will be three products from the easy to use Ecoline range of truck mounts from Ruthmann Italia, which haven’t yet been present in the UK.
Another vehicle mount manufacturer France Elévateur was returning to the UK market with its new distributor Elite Access at the show. The French manufacturer had previously been present in the UK from 2015-2016, and the new partnership will see Elite Access mounting platform kits produced in France on to local chassis.
Elite is introducing three product types into the UK to start with; the 121FT van mount, with 12m working height, 7m outreach and no outriggers, while the 132FT has a larger basket and outriggers. Plus there are two models from the Topy range – the Topy 10.2 and Topy 11 on a truck chassis. The former has capacity for two people in the basket while the Topy 11 can carry one person.
There were a considerable number of spider lifts on show at Vertikal Days, with a couple of new entrants to the market, including
CMC was showing a fully updated version of its MEWP F-series. First presented at Bauma 2019, the CMC F-series range of hydraulic spiders offers working heights up to 18m. The new versions offer a number of features, including quick-release fittings, pressurised fuel tank, electro-hydraulic distributor, new engines and new remote/radio control, with all models in the series available with remote control as standard.
CTE was showing its 27m working height Traccess 270 spider in the UK for the first time. The Traccess 270 was launched last year and tops out the current series, now formed of four models, ranging from 13m to 27m working height. CTE began introducing the new updated Traccess range in 2019 as part of a new strategy to meet global requirements in the sector.
Imer was showing its 23m working height spider for the first time in the UK. It was launched at the GIS show in Italy in October last year. The 3,000kg machine can be towed on a standard trailer and offers a new generation of electronics and hydraulic control. This will be complemented by a new range of spiders later this year, with possible launches during Bauma.
The Italian manufacturer is also continuing to update its scissor lift range with AC motors for its mid-range slab scissors. AC is already available on Imer’s RT liner scissor line.
Palazzani was at the show with its new UK distributor Liftech. The company signed up with Liftech, which also represents GSR and Falcon Lifts, in September last year and it was the first time Palazzani had attended the exhibition. The company reported that its 32m working height XTJ 32 had been sold to a rental company.
On the AlmaCrawler stand was the Billenium spider lift, now in series production. The first two models in the series are the B1570 and B1890, with workings height of 15m and 18m. There are three power options: the ETS version with petrol engine, the diesel Evo version and full electric lithium LTH version. All three are designed to be compact with a minimum width of 0.79m and maximum weight of 2600kg - 2900kg, to allow transport on standard trailers.
The Billennium models offer an operating outreach of 10m and 11m, depending on the model and a maximum load capacity in the basket of 230kg and 250kg. The patented Self Propelled Skilled System (SPS) allows the machine to be used without lowering the stabilisers on slopes up to 10° longitudinally and 5° laterally. In this way the platform can be used at up to 9m working height.
Boss on show
Boss’ upgraded PA-lift had a soft launch on the APS stand last year and has so far seen 100 sales un the UK. From now on the plan is to introduce 50 more units into the market as and when they are delivered from the Chinese production facility.
Feedback from the market has led to further updates and options, including white noise for the electric, which has replaced the more piercing ambient noise when it is being raised or lowered.
There is also a chunky non-marking rubber bumper, which protects the front of the unit and protects the overhead sensor when the units in lowered position.
In addition, the PA-lift has been wind rated, which can be set via an app and reduces the maximum platform height from 3.4m for indoor use to 2.6m.
Another new addition is the tool tethering bracket, rated to carry a range of tools, including cordless drills, etc, on a bungee ropes. There is also anti climb guard on the main basket and confined space basket.
On the subject of boom lifts JCB had a stage four complaint boom lift on its stand, rated for the US market. The boom was first shown at the ARA Show in Las Vegas earlier this year when it was launched into North America. So far the manufacturer does not offer a boom lift in the UK and speculation has been rife as to one will be introduced. The presence of this boom seemed to at least provide a level of intend.
Snorkel lithium investment
In other UK news, rental company JMS Powered Access has made a significant investment in 17 Snorkel lithium-ion-powered rough terrain scissor lifts.
Built at Snorkel’s Vigo Centre facility in Washington, Tyne & Wear, UK, and delivered throughout March 2022, JMS Powered Access ordered eight Snorkel S2755RTE narrow rough terrain scissor lifts, four S3370RTE and five S3970RTE compact rough terrain scissors.
It is one of the largest single orders for Snorkel’s range of zero-emission, four-wheel-drive scissor lifts by an independent hire company in the UK to date.
JMS Powered Access has four depots in Harpenden, Radlett, Dartford and Leeds, serving the North and South of England, and operates a fleet of 2,100 machines, ranging from low level access, scissor lifts and spider lifts, to 185ft boom lifts.