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Buckets and boom lifts: GCC market trends in AWP

by John Bambridge on Jul 18, 2016

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Just as the days of bamboo scaffolding are gone in all but the poorest parts of Asia, so increasingly too are the gung-ho aerial access machines that indeed offer access to height, and at speed, but little by way of safety.

A few years ago it was perfectly common and normal for aerial work platforms in the Gulf to be deployed without any safety systems, and telehandlers to equip buckets without any separate operator controls. Now such practices are increasingly frowned upon.

Indeed, major European manufacturers of both aerial work platforms (AWP) and telehandlers, including Terex Genie, JLG and Haulotte do not sell them. As Sharbel Kordahi, MD of Terex Middle East, notes: “We sell the high-end, proper man baskets, which means they are EN 280-certified, where the operator in the basket has the main controls.”

The image above shows a GTH-5021R doing just that, in an application that is seen as complementary to dedicated AWPs, as Kordahi continues: “They have different applications. The main idea behind having a man basket is to make the telehandler more flexible on site, so instead of having a customer waiting for an AWP machine to come on site for a two-hour job, he can just equip his man basket and do the job.”

The strict new approach towards man baskets is interesting as an indication of the broader trends towards safety in aerial access.

Attitudes towards safety in the Gulf now bridge the divide between manufacturer and rental operators, and, as an example, Manlift now has a certified training centres in the UAE, Qatar and India, accredited by IPAF (International Powered Access Federation), whose Middle East convention Manlift has also sponsored for the last two years in a row.

An emerging technology in the context of aerial access safety in the region is RFID systems to prevent the unauthorised access of machines. Manlift rolled out an RFID card system six months ago across 80 machines within a week on a government project, and the customer was apparently “extremely satisfied and surprised” with the results.

Productivity still remains key, however, as demonstrated by Haulotte in its recent support of one of the largest railway projects in the Middle East.

Around 150 units of Haulotte AWPs have been supplied by Roots Group Arabia (RGA) for use on the Riyadh Metro project, most of them ‘20m, 26m and 41m’ articulated booms or HT23RTJ telescopic booms. The 41m articulated boom has a maximum outreach of 19.80m and the best lifting speed in the market at under 40 seconds, while the new range of telescopic booms are known for their rough-terrain capabilities.

Haulotte’s experience in railways projects also extends to Turkey’s long-awaited high-speed railway line between the Ankara and Istanbul, where various Haulotte Scissor lifts and diesel articulated booms were used, as well as finishing works on the Dubai Metro.