Low level access: The latest trends
By Euan Youdale14 August 2023
Low level access comes in a variety of forms, whether that be pusharound units, powered vertical masts or scissor lifts. Manufacturers are expanding their ranges with all of the above as the low level access niche steadily grows around the world.
According to Justin Kissinger, marketing manager at Custom Equipment, which produces Hy-Brid Lifts, more countries around the world are adopting low level access by reducing ladder and scaffold use to maximize worker safety, minimise damage to finished surfaces and reduce rework costs.
Kissinger says, “Contractors are responding to new safety legislation by limiting the use of ladders, stilts and scaffolding on jobsites.
“We’re also seeing an increase in specialized projects requiring lightweight or compact low-level access solutions like Hy-Brid Lifts.”
According to Haulotte, demand is driving the market and low level access is growing fast in areas where standard access products are now mature. The France-based company says in 2019 the new equipment sales market reached approximately 6,000 – 7,000 units per year. In 2023, that market size will have doubled.
Market demand for low level access equipment
Christian Dube, product manager at Genie, says regulations and employer restrictions discourage the use of ladders and increase demand for low level access platforms, particularly the UK; “But we are also seeing demand for micro-scissors around the globe, including elsewhere in Europe and in North America.”
In 2021, Genie introduced its GS-1932m and GS-1432m micro scissors. The GS-1432m weighs less than 900kg and has a maximum indoor platform height of 4.3m and a maximum outdoor platform height of 3.66m.
The GS-1932m, which measures 0.81m x 1.12m, is only 1.97m tall when stowed. With a full-width platform size and a weight of 1,179 kg, it is well suited for tasks that traditional scissor lifts perform, while also offering the ability to reach jobsites out of reach for standard-sized scissor lifts as a result of its light weight.
Singing the praises of compact scissors, Dube adds, “Slab scissor lifts in general are extremely popular because they enhance safety and productivity for a variety of tasks. For example, for applications in warehouses and data centers.”
Micro scissor lift options
Hy-Brid Lifts has also increasingly embraced the scissor lift option, with its most recent launch being the Zero-Turn Series ZT-1630 as an alternative to mast lifts.
The compact scissor is designed with counterrotating wheels and a less than zero degree turn radius for unmatched maneuverability on complex jobsites. Operators can navigate doorways and other confined access spaces without worrying about damaging finished construction.
The ZT-1630 features a platform on average 96% larger than mast lifts and allows work at height without compromising workspace due to a mast.
It also has a 650 pound platform capacity, 22ft working height, 25% gradeability, 30-inch EZ-Glide slide out extension deck, electric drive and steer, low floor load pressures, full height cantilever gate, proportional controls and active load sensing.
The company has also launched new options and attachments for existing products to increase ROI, including lithium batteries, a pipe rack, confined access solution, and soon the company will launch its own telematics system.
Kissinger adds, “We must also reflect new ANSI A92 standards and other updated standards around the world to ensure operator safety. Hy-Brid Lifts were compact before these standards went into effect, so fortunately we didn’t have to make any significant adjustments.
“Our scissor lifts can fit through doorways, elevators around tight corners, and confined spaces without the need for additional features like folding rails.”
Additionally, there have been more requirements for leak containment on jobsites. Hy-Brid Lifts minimises the potential for leaks by ensuring only one hose from the pump to the cylinder is needed and to add an additional layer of comfort on jobsites, the company has developed LeakGuard for the Pro.
New access machines to hit the equipment market
As JLG says, operators are always looking for easier ways to bring people and materials to height in the most safe, ergonomic and efficient manner.
JLG’s Power Tower Duo and the Nano 35 will be launched in the third quarter of 2023.
The Duo can accommodate two people in the basket indoors and is rated for outdoor use with one person.
It will also be able to lift materials since it is equipped with mechanical outriggers that extend when the platform is raised. This means that the machine gains stability for the added weight.
The Nano 35 will be the first push around vertical mast lift that can reach a 5.5m working height without the need for outriggers.
It weighs under 500kg and will also allow operators to reach higher levels in congested areas that cannot currently be reached with traditional equipment, says the company.
The company will also launch tool tethering that will be certified to use on all JLG’s low level access Power Tower machines.
Low level access vertical masts and scissor lifts
Indeed, the move into low level access is one that the traditional scissor and boom lift manufacturers have been taking, including with JLG’s acquisition of Power Towers in recent years.
Haulotte chose to launch its own range when it announced its arrival into the product category in 2022, which included a combination of scissors and vertical masts.
The Move Up mast lift line is composed of two push-around models – one purely manual and the the other with an electric lifting device, delivering maximum working heights of 4.6m and 5.6m, respectively.
The Swift Up scissor lift line is available in a push-around version, with working height of 3.8m or 4.5m, and the Swift Up SP which is a self propelled version, offering electric drive and a maximum working height of 4.5m.
As their compact size of a maximum 75cm width makes it easy to navigate through confined spaces, such as narrow store aisles, data centers, open-plan offices, or warehouses.
Their narrow turning radius allows tight maneuvers without difficulty and they easily fit into elevators. Lightweight and equipped with non-marking wheels, they are adapted to sensitive floors, such as carpet, wood floor, marble and tiles.
All-electric nano scissor lifts
This year, US-based MEC Aerial Work Platforms launched the Nano10-XD, its first all electric scissor lift.
Powered by standard lithium-ion batteries to enable faster charging and longer operation, the machine is equipped with an all-electric lift, steer, and drive and is said to require zero hydraulic oil.
With a maximum platform height of 3m (10ft) and an operating weight of 560kg, the NANO10-XD can easily fit into a standard elevator and is said to be suitable for use on a wide range of floor types.
Other features include a standard Xtra Deck to get through 2’x 2’ ceiling grids and use in hard-to-reach areas, standard swing gate and ground to platform step height which removes the need for a ladder.
Accessories for low level access machines
Bravi Platforms has been concentring on its accessories in recent times. The company’s new Solo-Gyps system can be activated from the company’s Leonardo HD platform.
Solo-Gyps allows operators to position panels up to 12 ft long and weighing 88 pounds. According to Bravi, Solo-Gyps can cut labour installation costs in half, allowing a single worker to install up to 50 plasterboard ceiling panels per day without any additional assistance.
Bravi has also launched the Small-E inspection device, also made for the Leonardo HD line. A customised and movable top control box comes as a standard with the accessory and can be placed on the extra deck, so that the operator can comfortably drive the MEWP into position while on the Small-E.