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Interview with Matthew Elvin: Enhanced Stability

Aug. 29, 2019
RER interviews Matthew Elvin – CEO, Snorkel, about its new machines, its response to the new ANSI standards and what rental companies need to do to be prepared for the new ANSI era.

RER interviews Matthew Elvin – CEO, Snorkel, about its new machines, its response to the new ANSI standards and what rental companies need to do to be prepared for the new ANSI era.

RER: What have been the major new developments to your company’s technology and products in the past year?

Elvin: At Bauma 2019, we launched the Snorkel S3019E slab scissor lift, which really pushes the boundaries of traditional scissor lift design. Developed from the ground-up by Snorkel’s in-house engineering team, the Snorkel S3019E features a patent-pending design that enables the scissor stack to stow entirely inside the chassis. 

This sunken scissor stack provides a low step-in height for the operator, which improves the ease of ingress and egress from the platform. It also results in a lower stowed machine height, of just 69 inches, meaning it can be driven through standard doorways without the need for folding guardrails, and is already compliant with the upcoming ANSI A.92 standards which come into effect in December 2019.

New for Snorkel scissor lifts, the S3019E is equipped with both electric drive and electric steer, meaning there are no hydraulic hoses. This eliminates the risk of hydraulic leaks, meaning the lift is ideal for use in sensitive areas, and improves the duty cycle as there is no energy loss. 

Obviously, the upcoming ANSI standards are an important topic. What have you done to change your equipment technologically to prepare it to be compliant with the new standards?

The new ANSI standards are based on ISO16368, upon which EN280 and AS1418.10 are both based. As a manufacturer, we have been producing aerial work platforms that comply with EN280 and AS1418.10 for almost two decades, so the machines that we will now build for ANSI will be the same as we build for these other national standards.  This simplifies the manufacturing process, however, through years of building to multiple standards, our designs have already been modified to the point that most differences were simple bolt-on changes anyway.

For people who have not been following the ANSI changes, can you sum up how your equipment will change on a practical jobsite level – in other words, what will the customer find different?

There are multiple changes that customers will see when the new standards take effect. One of the major changes will be the introduction of enhanced stability requirements, that will mean that platform load sensing systems will be required on most machines. A platform load sensing system monitors and alerts operators if the rated platform load has been exceeded. Additionally, the minimum requirement for the handrail height has changed from 39 inches to 43.3 inches (0.9m to 1.1m). To comply with the new standards, some models may need to be redesigned with folding handrails. 

There is also going to be a restriction on flexible platform entrances, such as chains, which will be replaced with gravity gates, swing gates or saloon gates, and toeboards will be required at the entrance to all boom lifts. At Snorkel, we eliminated chain entrances in 2014 and produce all electric scissor lifts with saloon-style swing gates as standard.

Other changes include additional requirements on pneumatics tires, which will likely see the increase of foam filled or solid tires for simpler compliance, as well as potential changes to wind and tilt ratings, based on new stability and structural evaluation, and changes to function speeds to comply with new limits imposed by the standards.

For rental people, how will their responsibilities change with the new ANSI standards?

The rental representative, be it service or sales, is going to be the responsible party to make sure the end user is aware of the new requirements and how the machines operate. Proper training is fundamental and will help reduce the amount of service calls if users are aware of the changes and functionality. 

There are several changes in the A92.22 (Safe Use Of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) and A92.24 (Training Requirements For The Use, Operation, Inspection, Testing And Maintenance Of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) that are the responsibility of the users and operators, and the rental companies need to make sure their customers are aware of these standards. 

What do you suggest rental people do to communicate with their customers about the new ANSI standards?

We would recommend an addendum to the rental service contract to communicate the existence of new standards. Seminars held for business owners, users, and operators can help increase awareness of the new standards as well. OSHA will be utilizing these new standards in their evaluations so it is a benefit to all users to be informed of their responsibilities. This may be an opportunity for rental companies to offer training to their customers, with the additional benefit that trained operators usually have less service calls.

How will training programs change with the implementation of the new standards?

With the effectivity of the new standard suite, there is now a standard that specifically presents the requirements of the training program and content as well as the responsibilities of manufacturers, dealers, owners, users, supervisors, operators, and now occupants are also included. Further, there are record retention requirements in the new standard that must be met as well.  

What new safety measures have you implemented in the past year?

In Summer 2018, we introduced a trigger guard solution that is now fitted as standard to all new Snorkel lifts that have an enable switch operated joystick, and is also available as a retrofit option.

The trigger guard fits directly onto the joystick and provides an additional level of protection over the enable switch to prevent involuntary movement, without affecting normal operation of the controls. As with our Snorkel Guard anti-entrapment system for boom lifts, we felt it important to not only offer a solution on new build machines as standard, but also make it available as a retrofit options on as many of our legacy machines as possible.

Are you seeing an increase in demand for electric and hybrid machines and is your company or will your company participate in that market?

Yes, globally we are seeing increasing demand and interest in alternatives to diesel power, particularly full-electric models, with rental companies in some regions, such as Scandinavia, setting targets for the electrification for significant proportions of their fleet in the coming years.          

At Snorkel, we previewed the Snorkel SL26E at Bauma 2019, which is a full electric Speed Level powered by lithium-ion battery packs. Our intention is to bring this product to market early next year and utilize the same technology in some of our other current models, such as rough terrain scissor lifts.

Obviously, the rental industry is a major market for your equipment. Do you see any particular trends in the rental market that you’ve noticed? Have you seen new start-ups, new players coming into the rental market?

The continued consolidation by some of the larger rental companies in North America has been widely reported. We believe that this provides opportunities for new entrants into the regions where these acquisitions have occurred. There is always an opportunity for an independent rental operator to provide a more localized, dedicated and pro-active solution to its rental customers, and at Snorkel we look forward to being part of the journey and providing support to these current and future independent rental companies.