Interviews with Aerial Manufacturers: A History of Innovation

Aug. 23, 2019
Manufacturers of mobile elevating work platforms talk about the new ANSI standards, what rental companies need to know, advancements in aerial technology, new safety innovations, telematics and a lot more.


Matthew Elvin – CEO, Snorkel

Ebbe Christiansen – president, Reachmaster

Brad Boehler – president, Skyjack

Paul Jensen – product marketing manager, Haulotte

Matt Fearon –Genie president, Terex AWP

Nichole Lerma – Marketing, MEC

Craig Paylor – president, LGMG North America

Jordan Cuadrado – product manager, LGMG North America

Terry Dolan – CEO and president, Hy-Brid Lifts

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.

Christiansen: It’s been a busy year with several developments. From a safety point of view the biggest development has been the ability to deliver anti-entrapment systems on both our ReachMaster Falcon line as well as our Bluelift line. While these systems have been on the market for a while, we were the first to launch them on compact lift equipment. While it is a fairly small segment, we nevertheless found it important to offer this protection system as the compact lifts are used more and more in construction-related applications, which is where the largest risk is.

From a compact lift point of view, we launched both the Falcon FS108Z and the Bluelift B101 Combo with, respectively, 62 foot and 52 foot horizontal reach, which are a new benchmark for lifts in this category.

However, the biggest new development is no doubt our new Bluelift B35EB. This unit is specifically designed to operate in shopping malls, office buildings, hospitals and other buildings that typically do not have a big cargo elevator. The lift is very unique in two ways: For a start the unit features a so-called elevator system that will allow the unit to swing out over a handrail and then lower the basket below level, allowing the operator to work on both the handrails and items below thanks to the basket rotation. This feature is very sought after as a maintenance solution to any building that has glass railing where it is difficult to get to the outside area of the railing for cleaning and maintenance purposes.

The ace in the hole is the unit’s ability to transform into a 7 foot 8 inch-long unit thanks to a detachable jib system with a quick-lease coupler on hydraulics and electrics, so the jib and elevator part can be place on a small purpose-built dolly (included with the unit), so you can take the lift up in most standard people elevators, quickly re-assemble on the application floor and get the work done safely. Powered by a lithium battery system, it is noise and odor free, and obviously environmentally friendly. This unit will become a very important tool to increase safety in the above-mentioned work applications.

Finally, we have improved our remote access and diagnostic systems on, particularly, the ReachMaster Falcon units, allowing us to offer remote access to the data systems on the units, which again is a major efficiency factor in troubleshooting and repair situations.

Boehler: Skyjack launched our new range of full-size rough terrain scissor lifts earlier this year. At the ARA show in Anaheim we unveiled our largest scissor lift to date – the SJ9253 RT. And we have plans for an even larger 63-foot machine at the turn of the year.

The new range will replace Skyjack’s existing 88 and 92 models and consists of the SJ9233, SJ9243, and SJ9253 RT with plans for the SJ9263 RT later on. These models boast expansive platform space, increased capacities, and increased working heights across the board.  Features like our AXLDRIVE four-wheel-drive system and easily accessible service components remain standard in these new models.

Secondly, after a very successful launch of our ELEVATE telematics solution in 2018, we used the 2019 ARA show to show a concept self-check machine. We engineered a SJ3215 DC scissor lift to respond to commands sent over the cellular network, and independently perform a function check of its critical systems such as drive, steer, and lifting. The reception was extremely positive and this demonstration, in my point of view, symptomatic of the way that technology will influence our industry. Think less robots performing complex functions, and more discrete tasks that can be made autonomous and increase productivity.

Practical technologies leading to discrete autonomous tasks have begun to be wholeheartedly embraced as more rental companies have started seeing the real potential for operational improvements, the opportunities to engage with their customer base more effectively and add value to their service offering.

Fearon: We brought some great innovations to market within the last year. One of the most exciting things about our business today is the way technology is advancing. We’ve got that happening right now in telematics. We’ve been putting telematics-ready devices on our machines since 2015, and with the introduction of the Genie Lift Connect telematics solution earlier this year (January), our new telematics program is the next phase of our brand’s telematics journey.

We believe the time is right to save our customers money in the form of fewer service calls, more rental time on every machine.

This is a big commitment from us as we’re putting it on all of our booms, scissor lifts and telehandlers with a free three-year subscription. And, we’ve got it tailored: Customers go in, they go to the portal and there are dashboards in there, and they’ve got all the pertinent information that a rental company might want right there. And, they can tailor it even more to fit their specific needs. For example, the larger rental companies can reconfigure it with data.

We’re doing this because it addresses a big industry issue: There are not enough service techs. And, this is a solution for that. If we save one service call per week for a rental company, which I think is extremely conservative, that’s worth a lot. They don’t want to send a truck out for a couple of hours to fix a dead battery, and it’s hard to make money that month on that machine. This is important because telematics is going to change the way the machines are serviced.

We’ve got a solution that works for the big rental companies, as well as the smaller rental companies who maybe don’t have the IT capabilities to outfit their own system. I think customers, big and small, are changing the way they manage their fleets. We have a history of being innovators, and this is an example of that.

From the manufacturers’ standpoint, there are things we can learn about machines. We want to know how to make machines better, we want to know how they’re used, we want to understand do we have too much material on them, because rental companies are constantly telling us “you got to get the cost down, we can’t get the rental return.”

Genie also continues to invest in products and accessories related to the changing requirements of our global customers and how end-users do work safely and productively. The new Genie Xtra Capacity (XC) booms are designed for just that purpose: To provide exceptional capacity consistently across a wide range of products. When customers see the “XC” nomenclature on a Genie machine, they will know that they are getting 660-pound capacity over the maximum range of motion, and 1,000-pound maximum capacity to tackle even the heaviest jobs in less time. The “XC” stamp also signifies that these machines meet the new machine requirements of the updated ANSI and CSA standards in North America, as well as the EN280 standards in Europe and the AS 1418.10 standards in Australia.

I also feel that Genie is leading in the hybrid technology. Our engineers have put a lot of time and effort into making sure that we’re putting the right level of technology in and not losing any performance to get the features that the customers want. Genie FE technology performs as good, or better than, a traditional diesel machine. It runs quiet, it can run with the engine on, it has the 24-horsepower engine which can accept any fuel so when our customers need to dispose of the machine, if they want to dispose of it offshore, there are few limitations. If they have a Tier 4 Final engine, the fuels don’t work everywhere in the world, so the Genie FE hybrid solution is the full package.

Lerma: MEC has been incredibly busy this past year with the release of multiple new machines and industry-changing add-on options. Our biggest reveal was the patent-pending Leak Containment System, a better solution to operating MEC slab scissor lifts on surfaces that require protection. LCS is a system of trays integrated into the unit to avoid interference with critical machine functions including deployment of the pothole protection system, static strap utility and front wheel operation. there is unrestricted access to the emergency stop button, emergency lowering functions and the base controls.  The integrated trays are protected from damage due to jobsite debris, forklift handling and weather elements that can compromise leak containment. LCS was developed for easy installation and leak detection through its sleek design with pre-cut absorbent pads for quick replacement. Through the system’s strategically placed inspection holes, a leak can be detected, and the absorbent pads can be easily removed and replaced. MEC’s Leak Containment System is a revolutionary solution for today’s construction and industrial applications. See our video on YouTube here:

In the slab scissor lift category, MEC released the new Micro 26. Its short length of 74 inches [offers] a compact size almost two feet shorter than other 26-foot scissor lifts. Like the 1330SE and Micro 19, the Micro 26 is an innovative alternative to traditional scissor lifts and vertical masts. The combination of its spacious platform and micro design are unmatched in today’s market and open many new opportunities.

­MEC very recently introduced its new 65-J Diesel Boom. This robust straight boom reaches a working height of 71 feet with a standard 6-foot jib for 135-degrees range of motion. Value focused, its lightweight design comes in at just 19,850 pounds; the only boom in its class with two units per truck for lowest delivery cost. Another great advantage is there are no chains or wire ropes in the boom extension, just a simple single hydraulic cylinder. This machine demonstrates MEC’s values for providing a highly productive offering to better serve rental customer needs.

MEC also launched a new 45-foot boom lift, the 45-J Diesel Boom. This is a full-featured, rugged, simple and reliable 45-foot straight boom with a 6-foot jib. It is unique due to its low weight of 13,650 pounds; the lightest weight in its class for trucking and floor loading. It’s everything customers love about the MEC 60-J Diesel Boom in a 45-foot class and is compatible in parts and service. Its platform has a standard capacity of 500 pounds and provides 180-degree rotation (90-degrees each side) for maximum productivity. It also contains a simple, reliable Kubota Tier 4 Final engine that does not require a laptop interface for service. These benefits and more were incorporated to enhance customer value, productivity and serviceability in the 45-foot class.

Lastly, MEC introduced its renewed and expanded 69 Series RT Scissors, highly featured to better serve rental customer needs. Supplying four models at 33ft and 40ft platform heights in both electric and diesel models, this series provides multiple options for differing needs to our rental customers. Fully featured, the 69 Series includes 40-percent gradeability, all motion alarm, automotive horn, flashing beacons and diagnostic readout as standard.

Dolan: In early 2019 we introduced the next generation of Hy-Brid Lifts — a collection of low-level scissor lifts, which will also be known as Mobile Elevating Work Platforms or MEWPs, that align with customer needs. The reclassification of our lifts makes it easier for end users to identify the most productive lift that best matches their operational needs. Our new line of Hy-Brid Lifts is divided into three series — the Push-Around Series, Pro Series and Zero-Turn Series — and was designed proactively with upcoming ANSI standards in mind.

We introduced two new models: the PA-1030 and the ZT-1630. These new models — and all Hy-Brid Lifts — are designed to make work easier and safer.

We introduced an all new motor with a planetary gear drive in the Pro Series and Zero-Turn Series. This new design provides more increased torque and power to enable the units to traverse over most jobsite obstacles such as cables and hoses. All Hy-Brid Lifts self-propelled work platforms now have the ability to easily climb a 30-percent grade. This makes moving a unit around a jobsite or loading on to trailers much easier for operators. 

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

Fearon: All Genie MEWPs globally will now feature load sensors and higher load capacity ratings to comply with those requirements in the new standards. And, to adhere to the wind rating requirements in the new standards, MEWPs will now be categorized as either indoor or outdoor machines. Indoor-only aerials may be lighter weight, but they will be limited to work in areas not impacted by wind. Machines rated for outdoor use will be designed and manufactured for use in wind as limited by the new standards and as specified on Genie machines.

Paylor, Cuadrado: We have defined indoor and outdoor requirements for all of our lifts using the 28 MPH wind speed calculation, installed overload sensing, added folding rails due to the increased rail height, and updated our operation service manuals.

Dolan: We’ve been promoting safer functionality for many years, and a lot of our lifts have features that go beyond the new ANSI standards. Gated entrances, for example, have been standard on Hy-Brid Lifts since we started designing lifts in 2004. The new standards are just now addressing this and forcing other designs to catch up, saying chain entrances on scissor lifts and vertical platform lifts are no longer allowed. Our gate is now a full door design with an exclusive cantilever toe board. When the gate is closed, small material cannot fall off the lift through the entrance. However, when you open the gate the toe board of the door will raise slightly over loose material, preventing the gate from jamming. This is when operators would force the gate open, causing damaging to the gate. Toe boards will now be required at entrances on all MEWPs to prevent objects from falling off the platform and potentially injuring a person below.

Railing height will also be increasing for work platforms, which will cause some manufacturers to use folding railings so they can fit through standard doors. Because of the low height of our lifts, and the fact that the scissors are integrated into the base, we won’t have to have folding railings to fit through standard doors.

Our motor controller has been standardized across our self-propelled models, which allows for additional sensors and safety functionality to comply with the new standards like platform load sensing. Our lifts have always restricted the weight in the platform, and we will be adding additional sensors and safety features to comply with the standard for load sensing. The new motor controller now enables the operator to have both proportional drive and proportional lift for precise maneuverability.

Elvin: 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?

Boehler: Aside from the updated equipment name -- Aerial Work Platforms (AWPs) becoming Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) -- the core design changes in effect with ANSI A92.20 include: load sensing to be implemented on most machines, revised machine specifications due to updated stability requirements (including wind force), entrance gates, railing heights, and the type of tires utilized (on some equipment).

From an equipment standpoint, the largest impact the operator will see is the addition of load sensing systems on most MEWPs. Many MEWPs will soon be equipped with load sensing devices that will disable the normal elevating functions if overloaded.

Emergency lowering controls will still be enabled to safely bring the platform to the ground, if necessary. Rental companies and contractors alike should be aware that jobs which had previously been inappropriately completed by overloading a machine will require different planning and execution with new units that will be designed to inhibit this misuse.

The more stringent stability testing means that more foam-filled tires may be the norm on jobsites for rough terrain scissor lifts and booms. Railing heights on scissor lifts have increased, so scissors that could previously fit through a standard size doorway will no longer have that ability without folding railings. So, OEMs will be making an increasing number of units with folding rails as standard, as well as half-height or full-height gates, complete with toe board, replacing the previous chain gate that was seen on some models.

Jensen: Some of the changes, like guardrail height, and entry door requirements, customers and users will find no difference. Haulotte has been in compliance with most of the new standards for many years. The biggest differences in the operation of the machines will be around the load sensing system and the tilt sensing system. The new safety features will not allow some of the unsafe work habits that are sometimes seen on project sites.

Users have been able to easily ignore or disable safety warnings. Platform weight capacities were easily overloaded, and machines were working on slope angles steeper than the machines were tested for. I don’t think anyone was intentionally trying to work unsafely. Workers were usually just trying to get work done faster or work with the machines that were available to them.

With the new standards, the machines will now stop moving if the platforms are overloaded or working on steep terrain beyond the safe tilt limits. Only safe movements will be allowed to stow the platform so the operator can safely reassess their plan for working at height.

This means it becomes more important than ever to make sure the correct machine is used at the job site to make sure the work can be performed safely. Haulotte developed the Quick Positioning app, available for Apple and Android devices that guides users through selecting the best machine based on photos taken on site. The app produces a recommended machine as well as a report that can be forwarded to the rental store to start the rental order conversation.

Fearon: Two big things customers will notice in the new standards – changes in Equipment Terminology and changes in Equipment Design Standards. Here’s a quick summary:

Equipment Terminology

Aerial Work Platforms (AWPs) will now become known as Mobile Elevating Work Platforms, or MEWPs. The word “mobile” is important because it means that the equipment can be driven, either under its own power or by manual effort; it is not stationary.

In previous iterations of the standards, AWPs were classified by product types, such as booms, scissors and so on. In the new standards, MEWP classifications are made up of a combination of two key distinguishing descriptions:

a) a MEWP Group

b) an associated MEWP Type

A MEWP Group is determined by the platform location in reference to the equipment’s tipping line, which is either at the wheels or the outriggers.

A Group A machine has a design that does not allow the main platform to extend beyond the tipping line. In other words, the platform does not go outside of the drive chassis envelope. A perfect example of a Group A would be a scissor lift.

Conversely, a Group B machine has a design that allows the platform to extend beyond the tipping line. A great example of a Group B machine would be an articulating or telescopic boom.

A MEWP Type is in reference to the equipment’s ability to travel:

Type 1 – Traveling is allowed only with the MEWP in its stowed position

Type 2 – Traveling with the work platform in the elevated position is controlled from a point on the chassis

Type 3Traveling with the work platform in the elevated travel position is controlled from a point on the work platform

Type 2 MEWPS are not as common as the others. In fact, Genie does not manufacture any machines within this category so for the purposes of this article, I will focus on Type 1 and Type 3 machines only.

An example of a Group A, Type 1 MEWP would be the Genie AWP Super Series manually propelled lifts. The platform never extends beyond the tipping line, and the machine is designed to only be moved with the platform in the stowed position.

The Genie TZ-34 and TZ-50 trailer-mounted booms are examples of a Group B, Type 1 MEWP. The platform is designed to extend beyond the tipping line, and the machine is designed to only be moved with the platform in the stowed position.

An example of a Group A, Type 3 MEWP would be electric or rough terrain scissor lifts. The main platform never extends beyond the tipping line, and machine travel is controlled from the platform controls.

Articulated and telescopic booms are examples of a Group B, Type 3 MEWP. The platform is designed to extend the tipping line, and machine travel is controlled from the platform controls.

Equipment Design Standards

In addition to the terminology and language changes in the new ANSI A92 and CSA B354 standards, the standards also include several big changes to the equipment itself:

  • Platform Load Sense (aka Overload System or Load Sense System) — All MEWPs will be required to continuously check the weight in the platform and disable certain functions if the load is above the platform load limit.
  • Dynamic Terrain Sensing (aka Chassis Tilt Sense System) — Drive and certain boom functions must be disabled when out of their slope limit and functions restricted only to those that safely return the machine to terrain that is within limits.
  • Indoor-only Machines — Allows for the development of smaller, lighter-weight MEWPs bearing an “indoor only” rating because these MEWPs cannot be used in conditions where they might be subjected to any wind.

In addition to the changes highlighted above, there will be many other alterations including:

  • Toeguards on work platform entrances
  • Prohibited use of chain gates and flexible gates
  • Reduced lift and lower speeds on some models.

Lerma: With the new platform overload sensing standard, machines are required to actively monitor loads and halt normal operations if the platform is overloaded. The operator must pay close attention to the machine’s capacity and take the weight of the operator, accessories and tools into consideration. Jobs will no longer be able to be completed with an improperly loaded machine.

For the new wind force requirements, machines may require reduced platform capacities and/or increased weight for more stability in order to be rated for outdoor use. Operators must check the machine they plan to use to see whether it’s rated for indoor use only or outdoor use only. This should be clearly marked.

Another noticeable change to the ANSI standards is the platform railings. The railing height requirement has been raised for small scissor lifts. To fit through standard doorways, taller folding rails we replace fixed, non-folding rails on select models. Additional training may be needed to familiarize end users with how to fold railings to fit through standard doorways.

Paylor, Cuadrado: The customer will immediately discover the indoor/outdoor requirements for each lift. Some will be indoor only and some will be outdoor with capacity restrictions. The customer now has to pay extra attention when requesting equipment to make sure they get the proper lift for the required job.

Another difference the customer will find is the overload sensing capabilities. The new ANSI will prevent all movement during overload above 1 meter or 10 percent of the lift’s maximum height. It will immediately stop operation if overloading is triggered – this will force the operator to know how much is on the platform at all times to prevent the overload sensor from triggering.

Dolan: One thing customers will experience firsthand is the load sensing which limits the platform capacity to the manufacturers specification. By regulating the lifting capacity, users decrease the chances of overload accidents on a jobsite.

As new standards are implemented, contractors will find things they once lifted and moved with the lift will now trigger the load sensing system, causing the machine to go into a limited function mode until the weight is under the maximum rating. Rental centers will likely get a lot of calls about the lift not elevating or functions not working when the load sensing has been triggered and will need to be prepared to educate their customers.

Another aspect of the standards that will have customer-facing implications is machines will now be rated for indoor only or indoor/outdoor. Also, more lifts will be rated for only one person or will be heavier to accommodate additional people. Again, the ripple effects of this standard will reach customers and cause some frustrations that rental centers will need to be prepared to discuss.

Elvin: 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.

Christiansen: Again, from an equipment point of view I have no doubt that the biggest change will be the load sensor systems.

Let’s face it, while all manufacturers clearly state the maximum basket load capacity on their equipment, in particular construction applications have for decades considered that a “guiding” number, and overloading of more or less grave magnitude is taking place every day in North America. In response, most manufacturers have to a certain degree downgraded their equipment to allow for a buffer. With the new load sensor technology, the lift will shut down when overloaded, and the market will have to respect the manufacturers’ limits and instructions for proper use. That is without any discussion a very good thing, and something every stakeholder in the business should welcome.

From a practical point of view, however, there will be an interim period where the market will operate both equipment with and without this system, which can lead to confusion and potentially dangerous situations: If an operator is using a piece of equipment without the load sensor, but thinks it has the system, the operator could possible keep loading the basket until the sensor is activated, leading to actually overloading the unit. On the other side, an operator that is not aware the he/she is on a unit with load sensors may think there is a malfunction of the unit when it stops due to overloading.

Consequently, there will be a big task for the industry to educate the industry about these changes and how to practically go about them. So for example from an IPAF perspective, where I currently chair the North American Regional Council, IPAF has developed a decal that we will encourage rental companies and equipment owners to apply to all new units that is equipped with these new systems. Aside from confirming conformity to the new ANSI standards, it informs the operator that the unit will shut down in case of overloading. That brings awareness of the issue, and along with other initiatives will be needed until all units have these new systems.  

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

Jensen: Rental stores have a real opportunity to partner in their customers success to make sure they have the right equipment on site the first time, every time. Instead of taking a quick order for the equipment, rental store personnel should be trained to ask a series of questions such as the type of work that will be done, the estimated loads that will be carried in the platform, the type of terrain on the job site, and if there are any safety concerns on site. Knowing that a customer will be welding, outdoors, on an unimproved site can lead to additional follow-up questions that may lead to recommending a model with a higher weight capacity and a longer outreach to accommodate the work and the terrain.

Fearon: One of the more significant equipment changes coming from the updated standards will be the addition of platform load sense. Because Genie Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs), formerly known as aerial work platforms, are now manufactured to be in compliance with these standards, rental stores need to understand what’s happening. Here’s a quick summary:

What rental stores need to know

Platform load sense, also known an overload system or load sense system, is being implemented into the current standards to align with existing worldwide standards. This new provision requires existing worldwide standards. This new provision requires many MEWPs to monitor the weight in the platform and disable functions if the load is above the platform load limit. Essentially, it means that the machine will only allow operators to move and place loads that are within the rated capacity of the platform.

Overloading the platform

Since this may be the first time rental employees or customers have had to think about what happens if the platform is overloaded, here’s a quick summary of what to be aware of: There are two ways to overload a platform: 1) Too much weight in the basket before it leaves the ground, and 2) adding weight to the basket once it is in the air working.

Common culprits of overloading the platform are:

  • Platform capacity is not just calculated by the number and weight of people in the basket. It also includes tools like welding equipment, hammers and buckets, and materials such as pipes, panels, signage and windows.
    • It also includes operators’ clothing and personal gear. For example, heavy jackets and boots needed for work in cold-weather conditions all count toward the platform’s total capacity.
  • Not calculating the weight of jobsite tools or materials accurately. For example, it is easy to put a bucket with a few tools in the basket and not realize that bucket weighs 50 pounds or more.
  • Touching part of the building or structure you are working near, such as a beam or window ledge, during operation. The weight added from the structure also counts toward the platform’s load capacity.

Everything contributes to the weight in the platform, which means that everything will be counted in the platform load sense calculations as it compares the platform’s capacity to the machine’s load chart.

What can operators do to prevent overloading the platform? The best way is by understanding the weight of the load being placed in the platform before operating.

Field calibrations recommended

To do calibrations in the field, your technicians will need a digital scale and weights. We recommend steel or plastic barrels filled with water. See the product service manuals for your Genie MEWPs to follow the manufacturer’s recommended calibration procedures for each individual unit.

Once the machine is calibrated for the anticipated platform weight, you can load everything up and get the platform in the air — it’s time to get to work.

Remember: Any weight added to the platform that exceeds capacity after the machine is in operation, will flag the MEWP’s load sense sensor and could trigger the overload alarms.

When the platform becomes overloaded

With the new platform load sense requirement, MEWPs will be equipped with a sensor, or load sense cell, which has both an audible and visual alarm to alert the operator that the platform has been loaded above the machine’s load limit capacity.

On Genie MEWPs, when the platform is overloaded a load sense recovery feature, built into the platform load-sense technology will allow operators to return safely to the ground through limited functionality allowed, from either the platform or ground control station. Please note: Drive and steer functions are not allowed during recovery.

As soon as operators are safely on the ground, they must remove weight from the platform until the overload warnings, audio and visual, turn off before returning to work.

It is important to proactively educate rental store employees and customers about what this alarm means, as well as train them on the safe operating procedures necessary to resolve the situation.

Managing mixed fleets

It is important to know that these updated standards requirements only apply to newly built machines, so there is no need for rental stores to make any changes to their existing fleets.

But as rental stores add new equipment to their fleets, they will need to be ready to answer questions with employees and customers will have about platform load sense requirements. Particularly, they need to be prepared to communicate how older versus newer versions of equipment models will operate in the field.

In addition to understand the changes in equipment terminology and design, rental stores will also need to be up to date on the new training requirements in the new standards. For rental stores specifically, here’s quick summary:

Maintenance and Repair Personnel Training

Users must ensure that maintenance and repair personnel are trained by a qualified person to inspect and maintain the MEWP in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations, as well as ANSI and CSA standards.

In the case where a MEWP is being rented, arrangements must be made by the owner to identify the entity that will be responsible for the inspections and maintenance activities described in the standard:

Frequent Inspections — When the MEWP is put into service or has been out of service for three months.

Annual Inspections — Performed no later than 13 months after the previous Annual Inspection.

Lerma: Rental companies will need to understand the new standards inside and out so they can properly inform their customers. It would be unfortunate for both the rental company and manufacturer if a customer was unaware of the new platform overload law for instance. If someone overloaded the platform resulting in the machine turning off, they could assume the machine is broken when this setting is intentionally required for their safety. It is imperative that all rental companies and their customers are trained properly for their own knowledge and safety as well as a reduction of nuisance calls about down machines that were simply overloaded.

Paylor, Cuadrado: Though it is generally always required, annual inspections now must be documented at all times. The owners of the equipment aka, “the rental people” must keep a record of the said inspections. Those renting the equipment are now required to do their due diligence in making sure the equipment they are renting out is up-to-date, otherwise it’ll be a major non-conformance.

Dolan: New standards inherently bring with them a substantial burden of education and awareness to companies renting or using MEWPs. The company renting or purchasing the product must now request the dealer or rental company to complete familiarization of delivered units.

If requested, the rental company employees will then need to familiarize their customers on the features and use of MEWPs. You will see more and more rental companies providing operator training to both staff and customers, which is something that manufacturers can assist with as well.

Elvin: 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. 

Christiansen: There will be increased demands of proper instructions and training during delivery that shifts more responsibility on the dealer/rental companies, there are stricter demands on record keeping and overall there are several changes that elevates the responsibilities not only for the rental companies, but also the users, including the new requirement of mandatory risk assessment to name a few.

Boehler: As I mentioned earlier the largest machine change seen with the new ANSI design standards is the addition of load sensing technology. For a rental company, it’s important to educate users about the new experience they’re likely to encounter as a result of this and make their customers aware of other changes to the requirements regarding the use of and training for this machinery. Skyjack has prepared educational materials to help alleviate the burden from rental companies. They can all be found at

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

Fearon: Genie has developed a lot of content related to the upcoming ANSI changes that rental stores need to know about the new standards. To make it easy for our customers, as well as industry partners, all of the content/materials (videos, white papers, Q&As, checklists, product information, training information, etc.) are available publicly on our ANSI A92 page:

Lerma: It is crucial that rental people fully understand all new laws and how they will affect their customers. Training their internal employees and adapting policies and procedures to support the communication and training to end users will be greatly valuable. The largest rental companies have already begun preparing and small companies will likely be able to piggy-back on those efforts.

Paylor, Cuadrado: Send out statements with all billings that explain the new standards. The rental people should also have schools taught by field service technicians.

Dolan: First off, rental staff needs to become familiar with the standards and new features so they have the knowledge to discuss these items with customers. As noted before, new standards require automatic triggering of safety features based on tilt angles and weight restrictions, so it’s important to inform customers before they run into issues on the jobsite and thereby avoid unnecessary service calls.

Rental companies should ask customers more about their jobsite to make sure to match them with the best equipment for the job. Occasionally customers will rent an oversized lift for the job, when a shorter lift is sufficient. Larger lifts can be bulky, less maneuverable and can cause crushing hazards. Rental employees can tailor the equipment to best fit the customers’ needs. Hy-Brid Lifts offer a higher lifting capacity, so customers are able to lift more material, reduce trips and expand productivity with a Hy-Brid.

Elvin: 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.

Christiansen: I think it will depend on the rental company. The large national companies have in-house marketing and communication resources they can activate as far as running an educational campaign for their customers. I think that could range between everything from e-blasts with details about the new rules to POD casts, in-store display, creating specific web-pages where customers can get more information and overall the larger companies have a lot of tools available to get the message out. For the smaller, independent stores, the task is more comprehensive as they will typical have less in-house resources for this type of communication, and will to a larger degree have to rely on external help. One source could be IPAF, which already have issued four different documents “ANSI Standard Dealer Guidance” that can be downloaded from their webpage, and I think other organizations like ARA, SAIA, TCIA to name a few are doing the same thing, trying to help their members to get the information out.

Boehler: In addition to print-ready material that rental companies can simply print and distribute to their customers, Skyjack has also created two white papers that highlight the core design changes, as well as changes specific to Skyjack equipment. All of these resources are available online and are free to use and distribute.

Jensen: Machines meeting the new ANSI standards are already entering the rental fleets. For the next 5 to 7 years we will have a mixed fleet of old and new standards. Some customers may be reluctant to use the newer machines if they have had a bad experience. Instead of letting new machines go unused in the yard, it’s important to communicate appropriate expectations of the machines and match those expectations with the job.

Rental stores that begin having these consultative conversations with their customers now will make sure the transition to the new standards is as smooth as possible. Instead of frustrated customers calling from the job site in the middle of the day wondering why the brand new machine they have won’t allow them to perform the same work they did last week with an older machine, customers will have confidence that the recommended machine that arrives will get the work done safely and productively.

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

Lerma: The new ANSI standards have been and will absolutely continue to be a big part of MEC’s training initiatives. To thoroughly communicate these new standards to our customers so they are fully aware of the necessary changes to our equipment, MEC hired industry veteran Pat Schmetzer as Director, Product Training and Risk Management. His vast product and industry knowledge elevates MEC’s efforts in defining and implementing long term customer training objectives, programs, and methods in accordance with industry best practices and customer requirements. He will play a major role in ensuring our customers get the best training possible.

Paylor, Cuadrado: The training programs are and will continue to go through major changes. All the trainers who aren’t MEWP ANSI 92 certified by December will no longer be classified as a trainer at all. That means everybody needs to be retrained on the new standards. The trainers will have to train the trainers and begin to spread the knowledge and certifications from there. It’ll take time and effort on everybody’s part to make sure we’re all caught up on the new standards across the board.

Dolan: Training on safe operation of a class of equipment (ie self-propelled MEWPs) is a start. However, each manufacturer solves challenges in their own unique way, so it’s important we have familiarity with the brand and the machine. This can really only be achieved with additional information and material from the manufacturer. This material might be distributed through additional sections in manuals, interactive documents, web training or videos. I expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of manufacturer training programs and content.

Elvin: 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. 

Christiansen: As mentioned above, the new standards will overall enhance the need and requirement for proper training, not just generally, but also depending on type of MEWP. It will change the way equipment is delivered and it will change the way GC’s for example is deploying equipment to job sites, and training becomes a very central part. While some may see these changes as an operational burden, the key point behind this very important revision of the standards is all about enhancing safety and create a safer work environment.

When Nils Bohlin, a Volvo engineer, invented the three-point seat belt for cars in 1959 and Volvo made it standard on their cars, the reaction was very mixed. Decades of habit to drive without seatbelts prompted a negative reaction to this safety feature as being “annoying and just something for race drivers and pilots”.  Today, everyone – or at least most people – buckle up without even thinking about it because use of seatbelts has saved millions of lives over the past 60 years and has become a good safety habit. I think many of the elements in the new standards will follow the same trend. There might be some initial apprehension because the new standard mandates the industry stakeholders to change current procedures and most importantly how we think about safety, but in the long run I am convinced the new standard will bring a better and safer attitude to working on and with MEWPs.  

Boehler: Under the new ANSI training standard (A92.24), when requested, dealers must either offer operator training or advise where users can obtain operator training by a qualified person who is experienced with the particular classification of MEWP and knowledgeable regarding the laws, regulations, safe use practices, manufacturer’s requirements, and recognition and avoidance of hazards associated with MEWPs. The curriculum, training environment, testing, documentation and record retention must also meet the requirements of the A92.24 standard, and the training must be presented in a manner that the trainee can understand.

For the end user, training is still mandatory across the board when operating a MEWP, however ANSI A92.24 stipulates that training must extend past the operators and include supervisors as well. MEWP supervisors (who monitor operator performance and supervise their work) are to be trained according to requirements from ANSI A92.24, including: awareness of the applicable MEWP rules, regulations and standards, potential hazards and methods for mitigating the risk, proper MEWP selection for the task, and knowledge of the manufacturer’s operation manuals.

Jensen: Training is another opportunity for rental stores to partner with their customers and help each other be successful. Machine operators need to meet new, comprehensive training requirements. 

In addition to operator training, technicians will need to be trained on the new equipment. Supervisors will need to be trained. Even workers in the platform that will not operate the machine will need a brief training course. 

Making that training as easy to access as possible is another way for rental stores to partner with their customers while preventing compliance related downtime. Rental stores can invest in their own compliant training program or contract with a third-party training company to conduct on-site training. Haulotte owners can contact Haulotte about setting up on-site training for rental store employees and customers as well.

Fearon: There are several changes in training requirements in the new standards. Here’s a quick summary:

Safe Use and Planning

The user must develop a Safe Use Program specific to MEWPs which must include, but not be limited to:

  1. Performing a site risk assessment;
  2. Selection, provision and use of a suitable MEWP and associated equipment;
  3. An assessment that the support surface is adequate to support the weight of the MEWP;
  4. MEWP maintenance including inspections and repairs as required;
  5. Inform the operator of local site requirements and warn and provide the means to protect against identified hazards;
  6. Have a trained and qualified supervisor to monitor the performance or the work of the operator;
  7. Prevention of unauthorized use of the MEWP;
  8. Safety of persons not involved in the operation of the MEWP.

Risk Assessment and Rescue Planning

The risks associated with the task specific to MEWP operations shall be identified. These might be associated with the location where the work is to be carried out, the nature of the MEWP or the personnel, materials and equipment to be carried.

  1. Identify control measures;
  2. Identify safe work procedures;
  3. Rescue from height;
  4. Communicate the results.

The user must develop a written rescue plan that will be carried out in the case of machine breakdown, platform entanglement or fall from platform. The plan shall be put in writing and become part of the company's training manual.  

All occupants must receive training that explains procedures to follow if they fall and await rescue or witness another worker's fall. This plan must limit the time that a properly restrained worker hangs suspended in the air. Rescue plans can include the following:

a) Self-rescue – by the person involved

b) Assisted rescue – by others in the work area

c) Technical rescue – by emergency services

Training (Operators, Supervisors & Occupants)

To prepare for these standards changes, it is important for users (most commonly the employer) to understand several significant changes.

Supervisor Training (ANSI only)

The user must ensure that all personnel that directly supervise MEWP operators are trained in the following areas:

a) Proper selection of the correct MEWP for the work to be performed;

b) The rules, regulations and standards that apply to MEWPs, including the provisions for safe

    use as defined in ANSI A92.22 Training and Familiarization, and the work being performed;

c) Potential hazards associated with use of MEWPs and the means to protect against

    identified hazards;

d) Knowledge that the manufacturer's operating manual(s) are an integral part of the equipment and need to be stored properly in the weather resistant compartment on the MEWP.

Occupant Training

The MEWP operator must ensure that all occupants in the platform have a basic level of knowledge to work safely on the MEWP.

a) The requirement to use fall protection and the location of fall protection anchors;

b) Factors including how their actions could affect stability;

c) Safe use of MEWP accessories they are assigned to use;

d) Site specific work procedures the occupants must follow related to the operation of the MEWP;

e) Hazards related to the task at hand and their avoidance;

f) Manufacturer’s warnings and instructions;

g) At least one of the occupants must be provided with the knowledge to operate the controls in an emergency where the operator cannot.  

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

Paylor, Cuadrado: More attention on safety from our field reps and regional service technicians. Additional time spent on new safety related ANSI specifications and why they are necessary.

Dolan: Safety has been a priority for Hy-Brid Lifts for years by going above and beyond the minimum required by the standard. In many ways, the new ANSI standards are forcing other manufactures to increase safety on their lifts. We have remained at the forefront of safety developments on our lifts since we began manufacturing them.

Safety isn’t just important to our customers, it’s important for our staff as well. We feel if every staff member has a better understanding of safety challenges in lifts, we’ll all be able to work together to not only develop safer products, but also to communicate features and safety tips to the market more succinctly. This begins with training our own team. This year we are implementing a standard that our sales and marketing team has become IPAF PAL card certified. We’ll also require the same certification for all of our production level staff. IPAF training and certification ensures that our employees are familiar with the safety aspects of our lifts.

Elvin: 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.

Christiansen: The most visual one is the anti-entrapment system now available, but overall thanks to the specialized nature of our product segment (compact lifts), we have for decades offered safety measures like auto setting, tilt alarms, motion detection on outrigger, anti-collision systems on basket.’ In short, we have tried to take as many operational decisions away from the user as possible and let the machine do the thinking! Aside from swinging the outriggers out manually and deploy the lock pin, virtually everything else today on our equipment is controlled through the CANBUS system with a large range of sensors and live-data collection & execution that will keep the operator safe. The great thing about that is the machine is not getting distracted by phone calls, or music streaming earplugs. Nor does it ever have a hang-over from a great night at the bar or having a cold and not 100 percent up to alert performance. Just like automation has made commercial flying safer than ever, having the equipment do the thinking (including the load and tilt sensor) will no doubt enhance safety.

Boehler: In 2018 Skyjack launched a Secondary Guarding Lift Enable (SGLE) as an option on vertical mast, DC scissor lifts, and rough terrain scissor lifts. With Skyjack’s SGLE, both joystick and tamper-proof secondary enables must be activated to allow the platform to lift – the release of either will stop the functions. The SGLE specifically requires operators to remain in an upright position with two hands on the control box. This helps to keep the operator’s body away from the guardrails, which reduces the risk of crushing or entrapment while raising the platform. The secondary enable button is not used for lowering the platform or for driving; those functions remain joystick-enable only.

Fearon: The adoption rate of secondary guarding and sensing technologies in the aerial work platform industry is picking up pace. Bordering industries with shared applications have technologies that we can expect to see adopted by aerial equipment technologies which will improve productivity, workplace safety and rROIC for equipment rental organizations.

For example, demand for secondary guarding solutions on scissor lifts and vertical lifts often comes as a request for a boom solution to be mounted directly to the lift platform. Applications and platform configurations vary greatly between scissor and boom products, requiring secondary guarding solutions of similar function, but different form. The Genie Lift Guard Contact Alarm for scissor lifts/vertical lifts was designed and named to feel familiar to operators who are currently experienced with the Genie Lift Guard Contact Alarm on boom lifts today.  

One of the more significant equipment changes coming in the upcoming changes to ANSI A92 and CSA B354 standards is be the addition of platform load sense (as mentioned above). This new provision requires many mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs), formerly known as aerial work platforms, to monitor the weight in the platform and disable functions if the load is above the platform load limit. Essentially, it means that the machine will only allow operators to move and place loads that are within the rated capacity of the platform. With the new platform load sense requirement, MEWPs will be equipped with a sensor, or load sense cell, which has both an audible and visual alarm to alert the operator that the platform has been loaded above the machine’s load limit capacity. On Genie MEWPs, when the platform is overloaded a load sense recovery feature, built into the platform load sense technology, will allow operators to return safely to the ground through limited functionality allowed, from either the platform or ground control station. And, the Genie MEWPs equipped with a load sense are designed with a load sense cell that continuously checks the weight in the platform and limits the operating envelope to match the load chart, all while boasting the ability to do zero load field calibrations.

Lerma: MEC introduced the Proactive Platform Safety System (PPSS) for slab scissors. While similar systems such as the bump bar are reactive, MEC’s Proactive Platform Safety System is focused on the avoidance of collision and entrapment dangers. The initial contact with an overhead obstacle leads to the possibility of the operator falling onto the controls which can result in entrapment. MEC’s approach is to reduce the risk of an overhead collision from happening so that unwanted contact with the controls does not occur in the first place. This is done through an ultrasonic sensor that detects objects up to 12 feet above the platform floor. When an overhead object is detected, an intermittent audible alarm will sound, and its frequency will increase as the object comes closer. At a predetermined safe distance setting, the frequency of alarm beeps becomes constant and the functions that elevate the platform are disabled. There is an option to override PPSS for deliberate close positioning towards an object if needed.

This feature, paired with MEC's joystick orientation, are safety innovations unique to MEC. Our lift control handle is angled at 45 degrees to encourage downward motion of the machine to avoid entrapment. The orientation of the lift control is designed so that pushing the handle forward will cause the machine to lower. This innovation feature protects the operator from entrapment if unintended contact is made by lowering the machine rather than lifting towards overhead hazards.

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

Dolan: Demand is growing for electrification across the construction industry as a whole. Operators are quickly realizing the benefits — lessened noise pollution, reduced emissions, etc. Hy-Brid was one of the first in the industry to combine electric driving and steering systems with hydraulic lifting. Though it’s now becoming the industry standard, we’re proud to have been on the forefront of scissor lift innovation, and we continually work toward efficiency-boosting developments.

Elvin: 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.

Christiansen: When we invented the compact lift industry in 1977 with the TS46, manufactured by then E. Falck Schmidt in Denmark, it was all based on electric power, and the standard for compact units became the 24v battery system that can be found on our Falcons in updated format to this date. In the early 1980´s there was a demand for additional power, so the units were offered with both battery power as well as a combustion engine or generator.

So, we have sold hybrids since the mid 1980’s as far as all our wheel-based units. As far as the track-based that became popular in the early 2000’s, given the smaller physical size of these units, the demand expanded into the lithium generations from 2010 forward. We pioneered the first dual lithium and combustion engine compact lift in 2010 with the Bluelift line, and today 90 percent of what we sell is so-called Combo models, which are hybrid between batteries for indoor use and combustion engines (gas or diesel) for outdoor use. That said, we actually see more and more demand on electric use outside as well, given concerns not only about the environment, but also the noise level at a job site.

So, we have without doubt been the pioneer on hybrid equipment in our small and narrow segment of the market, and I think we will see increased demand for electric units in applications that traditionally were solved with combustion equipment in the past. While electric power has many advantages, it also has its down sides. If any element of the power system goes down, the unit is stuck wherever it is. With the hybrids you always have the alternative power mode that can help you out of a location, allowing the unit to be transported off site. Consequently, I believe the hybrids represent a more operational reliable solution that electric power only.

Boehler: Obviously, a large part of our product range is electrically powered in the form of scissors. Looking at booms, we do see a movement away from internal combustion sources. That has mostly been a European trend so far, with North America a little more circumspect. We will be in that market with our focus on hybrid. However, importantly we believe the “job” should specify the machine rather than the technology changing the job. All too often we see performance compromises as a result of technological introduction that mean rental companies have to change their existing and proven processes.

Finally we believe that unless the technology brings operational improvements, that technology has to be supplied at the same going rate as the more conventional offering. Technology itself does not change the laws of economics.

Jensen: Electrical and hybrid machines are seeing major growth in areas of the world where regulations require their use. While the U.S. currently has no low-emission zones, there is growing interest in how companies can reap the benefits of electrical machines. Haulotte has announced the Blue Strategy with the introduction of the new HA61 LE boom, the first of the new Pulseo Generation of machines. Electrically driven Pulseo Generation machines will replace the traditional internal combustion machines in the Haulotte range.      

Electrical machines have the obvious benefit of lower emissions, but the Haulotte Pulseo Generation line also comes with lower TCO, and near silent operation. Haulotte has also addressed the issues of battery life, maintenance and replacement cost with the new Activ’Energy Management feature. The new feature monitors battery health, prompts technicians to perform maintenance when needed, optimizes charging voltages and time, extending battery life, shortening charging time, and reducing overall costs.

Performance characteristics that match that of a combustion machine mean the new electrical machines are just as at home working outdoors in rough terrain as they are indoors. With all these benefits it’s easy to understand why more pieces of construction equipment are showing up on job sites powered by electricity.

Fearon: Yes, there is an increasing demand for electric and hybrid machines. It used to be that Europe was the early adopters for these types of machines, but that’s definitely expanding. If you look at the Genie Z-60 FE boom that we came out with three years ago, about half of our volume in that category is now going FE versus diesel — and, that’s true in North America. I think it’s phenomenal because there’s no downside.      

The hybrid and electric models offer an alternative to diesel engine technology — which it is important to note that it is increasing in cost and complexity with each new tier of emissions standards — as more markets are demanding environmentally sensitive options. It’s growing popularity in the auto industry shows there is interest to support these models.

Technology has advanced hybrid machine design and capabilities for MEWPs. Take the Genie Z-60/37 FE hybrid articulated boom as an example. This machine makes it possible for contractors to operate on indoor projects under DC battery power. By switching to hybrid mode, this same boom performs as well as, if not better than diesel-only articulated booms on outdoor projects, while seamlessly charging the batteries via an onboard generator.

Lerma: Yes, we have seen increased interest in electric and hybrid models. MEC offers all direct electric drive slab scissor lifts, a variety of electric drive rough terrain scissor lifts such as the 4069ERT and 26ft & 30ft Speed Levels, and the 60-J electric drive boom lift with a hybrid option. Electric drive engines are  popular because they are quiet compared to diesel options, allowing construction work in areas with noise abatement regulations.

Paylor, Cuadrado: Yes, I am seeing an increase in the demand for the electric and hybrid machines, albeit the growth is slow. As major cities across the US participate in more stringent “Green Deals”, the demand for electric and hybrid machines will continue to grow. LGMG has and will continue with research & development into new battery technology for this market.

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?

Elvin: 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.

Christiansen: I read the same news as most people, where the national players get bigger and bigger, and where consolidation and merger seems to take up more news space than new start-ups. Should I comment on anything relating to our segment of the industry we’ve seen a very positive trend in the rental market in general. The interest in and understanding of what compact lift equipment can do to your business, your ROI and ability to provide customers with the right tool for the right job has clearly increased to a point where we don’t have to start with Adam and Eve whenever we present the compact lift concept.

While still a long way to go before the market here will mirror Europe, where the compact lift industry is much more accepted and long ago an integrated part of even smaller rental players, we see very positive development for our segment and increased awareness. One reason is no doubt the amount of providers now present in the market. When we pioneered the first compact lifts in the 1980’s there was basically two players in the market and it stayed that way for 20 years, making it an gigantic task to create product awareness. Today there’s about five or six times as many compact lift vendors being active in North America which has had a very positive impact on product awareness.

Boehler: I think in Europe we see the technology trend we discussed early in terms of power sources. My feeling is that Europe is undergoing a period of some considerable rental company consolidation. Turning to North America consolidation continues to play a role with some bigger hitters coming together.

In both markets the acceptance of new technology is picking up. Telematics has moved from a phase of being just about connectivity to a stage where rental companies are actively looking at and acting upon data to improve operational performance. I look forward to some of the advances in this area. Personally, I believe digital products represent a great opportunity for operational improvements and for OEMs to differentiate themselves. The ongoing success and adoption rate of our OEM-delivered solution ELEVATE is proof of that.

Fearon: North America is the biggest aerial market in world, with Europe right behind it. Brexit seems to be creating some caution, and we’re not sure how that’s going to play out. China continues to grow. The Chinese are starting to accept aerials as the best way to work at height, and that’s a healthy sign the runway is good for our products. Right now, the scissor lift market there is very robust, and booms are becoming more and more popular.

Lerma: We’ve seen a huge trend of direct electric drive scissor lifts. They are gaining popularity due to their fast, quiet and smooth operation and extended duty cycle. Direct electric drive scissors are ideal on jobsites with the need to operate silently in congested areas. DC drive motors provide smoother, more precise controls and allow for longer operating time between battery charges. MEC scissor lifts with direct electric drive and AGM batteries get at least twice the battery duty cycle and can be used for up to two full shifts by two operators in a 24-hour day. Because of this, only one machine is needed on the job and in most cases will last an entire shift including part of the next shift. Rental companies are very interested in the benefits of electric scissors and how they provide a better total cost of ownership for them and their rental customers.

As for new players in the rental market, there has been a considerable amount of Asian companies joining the North American market in the past couple years. These entrants don’t have the product support structure customers demand or the residual value an established brand brings, therefore they’ve had hardly any impact on our business or the market to date.

Paylor, Cuadrado: The one major tread is a resurgence of the independent rental company. It was never a large segment of the business because the pricing was so different from the large rental companies who bought very well. This created the second tread; Chinese products being imported. Solid machines with a great price.

Dolan: Contractors are becoming more and more safety oriented, which is changing the demand of the equipment they need on jobsites. Low-level lifts are becoming a standard replacement for ladders, as contractors enforce stricter levels of safety to minimize falls on jobsites often linked to improper use of ladders.

Another trend we’re noticing in construction is takt-based scheduling, where a building is divided into zones by floor called takt areas. This method increases efficiency by allowing for all tools, crew and equipment to operate together zone by zone. The compact, lightweight design of Hy-Brid Lifts works well with this method, as multiple units can be in the same zone at the same time without damaging floors.

As new lift manufacturers enter the arena, we strive to maintain our commitment to producing a quality, American-made product and maintaining relationships with our employees, rental centers and end users.

About the Author

Michael Roth | Editor

Michael Roth has covered the equipment rental industry full time for RER since 1989 and has served as the magazine’s editor in chief since 1994. He has nearly 30 years experience as a professional journalist. Roth has visited hundreds of rental centers and industry manufacturers, written hundreds of feature stories for RER and thousands of news stories for the magazine and its electronic newsletter RER Reports. Roth has interviewed leading executives for most of the industry’s largest rental companies and manufacturers as well as hundreds of smaller independent companies. He has visited with and reported on rental companies and manufacturers in Europe, Central America and Asia as well as Mexico, Canada and the United States. Roth was co-founder of RER Reports, the industry’s first weekly newsletter, which began as a fax newsletter in 1996, and later became an online newsletter. Roth has spoken at conventions sponsored by the American Rental Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, California Rental Association and other industry events and has spoken before industry groups in several countries. He lives and works in Los Angeles when he’s not traveling to cover industry events.