RER talks with Paul Jensen, marketing communications & customer analysis manager, Haulotte Americas, about electric architecture machines, new mobile apps, growing use of data and statistics to predict maintenance, safety features and more.
RER: What are some of the new developments technologically in your company’s equipment during the past year?
Jensen: Haulotte made a big splash at Intermat in April unveiling our HA61 LE and HA61 LE PRO electric-architecture machine. Haulotte is leading the industry with the first 100-percent electric-architecture rough-terrain boom and a 5-year warranty as well as a commitment to convert the entire MEWP offering to electric architecture.
Haulotte also unveiled two new mobile apps. Haulotte Diag creates a link between your phone or tablet and a wifi-enabled machine for access to diagnostics and programming in the palm of your hand.
The Quick Positioning app guides users through the process of selecting the right equipment for the job. The user takes a picture of the area that needs to be accessed and through a series of guided steps is given a recommended machine that will have the correct reach and up-and-over height to access the area. This innovative app will help get the right machine to the jobsite the first time while increasing productivity and safety.
RER: What trends do you see on the horizon with your company’s equipment, and the industry as a whole?
Jensen: The big trends we see involve electric-powered products and telematics. These technologies are becoming more common within most of the construction equipment industry, not just the MEWP industry. Haulotte is leading both trends with the new “Blue” strategy that was announced during our Intermat press conference. Haulotte is committed to removing internal combustion engines from the entire MEWP range. The blue strategy is also a commitment to partnering closely with our customers as a solution provider. We see the potential of the data gathered and analyzed from telematics as just one of the ways we can add value for our customers. We will be able to use statistics to predict upcoming maintenance requirements, reducing downtime and saving money at the same time.
RER: The price of materials is rising with the recent implementation of tariffs from the Trump administration and by other countries in response. How big an impact will this have on manufacturing and on demand for aerial equipment in the marketplace?
Jensen: Haulotte is in an interesting position with the tariffs. As a French-based company with manufacturing locations around the world, we haven’t seen an immediate effect on the machines we import in to the U.S. for sale. But we also proudly manufacture an increasing number of machines in the U.S. that will likely see an impact as suppliers are forced to raise prices of their finished goods.
As an industry, we may see a decreased demand for new MEWPs if tariffs increase material prices enough to put downward pressure on construction starts. At the same time, we are currently at the top of an industry purchasing cycle that is predicted to begin to naturally shrink within the next year. This timing may work in the favor of the MEWP industry compared to the previous 2007 downturn.
RER: Safety continues to be an important topic in the aerial industry. What are some of the new safety developments on your company’s equipment and do you see any new developments on the horizon?
Jensen: Haulotte introduced a number of industry-leading safety features within the last three years and we are currently updating our machine family to make those features available across the entire range. Our newest machine, the HA60 LE PRO includes all the new safety features including Haulotte Activ’Lighting System to increase driving and loading safety in low light conditions.
The new Quick Positioning mobile app helps get the right machine to the jobsite. Using the right machine for the job means operators don’t feel the need to cut corners or use the machine unsafely instead of sending the less appropriate machine back and waiting for the right machine to return.
RER: The international demand for aerial equipment is growing. What might be some of the breakthrough areas for aerial usage?
Jensen: It’s exciting to see the safety and productivity that comes from using MEWPs be embraced so eagerly in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. I think many of the unsafe practices we see in some of areas around the world are the product of good intentions to get the work done under limited circumstances. As more MEWPs are seen on job sites, contractors and workers will quickly see the benefits and request their use more often. If an industrial leader like China implements safety regulations that encourage or require the use of MEWPs the potential for growth is huge!
New ANSI standards are expected to be published later this year. Can you summarize the impact the new standards will have on the aerial rental industry?
Jensen: I think this is a great time for the rental industry to provide a new level of customer service, add more value to their transactions, and build a closer relationship with their customers. In general, the manufacturers are ready for the change, and in some respects have the easier part of the job. Rental companies will have the bigger challenges as the new standards become implemented.
In the beginning days of the new standards there will be a nationwide mixed fleet of new and old machines that behave differently under the same work conditions. To avoid frustrating operators, rental companies need to closely consult with their customer when machines are ordered to make sure the machine has the right weight capacity, is able to work outdoors, and on a slope. Operators might be accustomed to working in overloaded machines on slopes greater than recommended because the machines would allow it. Machines compliant with the new standards won’t allow work outside of these safety restrictions which will require a change in how the work is done or select a different machine to complete the job. This also means that rental stores will need to evaluate their fleet and make sure the equipment they have is appropriate for the work their customers perform.