Rapid Access: AWP moves from strength to strength

Rapid Access explain the strategy behind its success in 2016, its purchase of an additional 1,000 machines in the past two years and what that future holds as the firm drives regional standards

ANALYSIS, PMV, 2016, AWP, Machines, Middle east, Rapid access

Rapid Access is enjoying considerable success in the equipment rental segment in the Gulf, with its parent company, the Lavendon Group, reporting 16% growth in its revenue year-on-year during 2016 in the GCC.

Alexis Potter, sales and marketing director for Rapid Access, attributes this to a number of factors, but most importantly the continued uptake of powered access equipment and services across the region. This, he says, is testament to the increasing focus on health, safety and efficiency across construction, facilities management and other industries.

“In the 20 years since we opened our first business in the UAE we have grown our fleet from less than 50 units to the 4,000 units we operate today. We have opened businesses in every GCC country from where we now offer rental, sales and training across nine depots in the region,” he explains.

“At Rapid we believe that safe working is the only way of working and in support of this we have been continually investing in our fleet and range of services on offer to support the developing needs of our extensive customer base.”

The 2016 results were also the result of Rapid Access having more equipment for hire in the region — having invested more than $37.5m in the addition of around 1,000 units to its fleet over the past two years. This significant investment will continue in 2017, as Rapid Access responds to the requirements of its clients across the GCC. A major focus will be the move towards boom lifts between 40m and 57m high, as the company looks to support the region’s significant infrastructure and energy projects.

“We pride ourselves on leading when it comes to the introduction of new systems and technologies into the region. A recent example of this was our introduction of Power Tower range of low level access equipment,” comments Potter.

“We were the first regional rental company to invest in this equipment, improving safety and efficiency for a range of operations at heights of between 2m and 5m — the height at which most injuries from falls from height occur. We now run a fleet of around 400 units with a wide range of the region’s suppliers following suit.

Potter continues: “At the same time, operational efficiencies have been driven by the continued expansion of the company’s service teams across the region and our commitment to training and internationally accredited best in class practices and processes. When our customers rent machines, they need to know that the training and technical support they receive is the best available in the marketplace.”

Getting trained

In addition to fleet and operational improvements, 2016 saw increased uptake of the Lavendon Group’s BlueSky systems in the region and the expansion of Rapid Access’s training operations.

“We believe in a three-stage approach to safe work at height, which includes correct equipment selection, safety and efficiency — improving attachments and ensuring that operatives are training to internationally recognised standards,” explains Potter.

Rapid Access has been stepping up its training activity to meet the growing requirement in the UAE and wider Gulf region for internationally recognised health and safety qualifications, especially for work at height, and in the latter half of 2016, developed a further six HSE trainers.

During the past year, Rapid Access was also responsible for around 60% of all IPAF-issued operator licences in the region.

Until early 2016, Rapid Access only offered IPAF AWP training and the only ISO 18878 approved course in the region, but the advent of the new UAE OSHAD codes of practice for lifting equipment, ladders and steps, work at height and scaffolding offered the opportunity to move into new areas.

In 2016 Rapid Access added PASMA (Pre-fabricated Access Suppliers & Manufacturers Association) training to complement its IPAF offering — also covering internationally recognised training for mobile access towers.

Mike Palmer, Rapid Access’s QHSE and training manager, notes: “2016 saw the group expand its offering to include PASMA training for towers and in early 2017, we will begin offering some of the region’s first working at height awareness courses aimed at general construction and engineering operatives and accredited by Highfield.”

The courses in Rapid Access’s 2017 portfolio include all IPAF courses, a PASMA Tower User and Low Level course and a Highfield Work at Height Level 1 & Level 2 course, plus a host of complimentary Supervising and Managing Safety courses — all recognised to an international standard, as the OSHAD’s code of practice requires.

Business outlook

At present, a majority of Rapid Access’s work comes from supplying the regions construction market and as such, Potter notes, business has been negatively affected by the drop in oil price.

He explains: “Across the region a number of projects have been re-evaluated and in some cases delayed or cancelled. On the positive side, however, as customers drive for further efficiency in their operations they are increasingly recognising powered access as the safest and fastest way of completing a wide range of tasks at height.”

Rapid Access is also witnessing a shift from purchasing of equipment to rental, with a significant trend developing in recent years.

Potter explains: “In addition to potential financial improvements through rental, our clients are increasingly recognising that powered access units are complex pieces of machinery that require specialist knowledge to run and support.”

He adds that a primary focus of almost every business is capital efficiency, and the use of rental equipment frees up the financial resources of contractors — allowing them to focus on their core business activities.

Potter ends: “In 2017 we look forward to celebrating 20 years of operation in the Middle East and continuing to work in support of our client’s across the region. We are currently investing in our regional fleet and will continue to ensure we run the largest and most diverse powered access fleet across the Middle East.”

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