RER interviews Nichole Lerma – Marketing, MEC about its new machines and training programs, growing interest in electric drive scissorlifts, and more.
RER: What have been the major new developments to your company’s technology and products in the past year?
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0cP8jxVsRU&t=5s
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.
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?
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.
For rental people, how will their responsibilities change with the new ANSI standards?
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.
What do you suggest rental people do to communicate with their customers about the new ANSI standards?
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.
How will training programs change with the implementation of the new standards?
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.
What new safety measures have you implemented in the past year?
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 truly 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 innovative feature protects the operator from entrapment if unintended contract 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?
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.
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?
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.