Experts predict rising demand for rented aerial work platforms

Updated: 2014-11-27 10:33

By Shi Jing in Shanghai(China Daily)

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The aerial work platform market, especially the rental sector, will become one of the fastest growing markets in the Chinese construction machinery sector, a leading global company said in Shanghai on Wednesday.

AWPs are mechanical devices used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to inaccessible areas, usually at a height.

"China is just getting started. It is still early days for aerial work platforms. But we are confident that China will use more AWPs, as it's focusing on safety regulations and their adoption across all industries," said Frank R. Nerenhausen, president of JLG Industries Inc, the Pennsylvania, United States-based AWP provider.

"Wage rates in China are increasing by 10 to 15 percent every year. As a result, companies are focusing on steps to boost productivity and efficiency. It is this aspect that gives us renewed confidence about the growth of AWPs," he said on the sidelines of the Bauma China 2014 exhibition which opened in Shanghai on Tuesday.

JLG, the largest AWP provider in the world, delivered the tallest platforms it has made to date to a Shanghai-based company during the exhibition.

The platform - 1850SJ - covers a reachable space of 85,000 square meters and delivers 58.56 meters of working height, which is equal to the height of a 19-story building. With a maximum capacity of 454 kilograms, it allows operators to bring more tools and materials to working height. The boom lift extends from ground to full height in less than five minutes, said company officials.

Desmond Soh, president of JLG China, said the 1850SJ can reach areas that were considered accessible only through truck-mounted booms. The end-user of the machine can be from any industry, including shipbuilding, petrochemicals, property, welding, and repair etc. The real advantage of the AWP, Soh said, is that it will provide a safer environment for people working at height.

Shanghai Horizon Equipment Co Ltd, a leading rental company for construction machinery in China, was the first company to receive JLG's new boom lift. According to Nerenhausen, Shanghai Horizon is well positioned to grow in the rental market.

"End-users use just 30 percent of the available capacity on most of the expensive machines. This is obviously not a good return on investment. About 90 percent of JLG's customers globally are rental firms.

The AWP rental market will certainly take off in China," said Nerenhausen.

According to China Construction Machinery Association, construction machinery sales to rental companies account for 25 percent of the total sales in the sector.

In mature markets such as Europe and the United States, engineering machinery in the rental market accounts for 85 percent of all the machinery, while the number is less than 20 percent in China.

According to a report published by China Industry Research Net, the Chinese construction machinery industry has been witnessing a downturn since 2012, after construction of high speed trains slowed and the property market started to lose steam.

However, Nerenhausen said that JLG has been somewhat "insulated" from the downturn. Though he did not reveal the exact sales numbers, he said JLG witnessed strong double-digit growth. The company is also looking at the possibility of setting up an after-sales service facility in Shanghai to cater to its existing manufacturing facility in Tianjin which was put into use in 2010.

"The number is relatively small on a global scale, but China is very likely to be the largest market for aerial work platforms in the future. In a mature market, we may see several hundred thousand AWPs supporting infrastructure growth. But in China we have just 10,000 such units. We can see the huge growth prospects that exist even during the flat construction years," he said.

"The construction market is a mature market and rises and falls with the cycle. But since the AWPs are relatively new to China, we anticipate increased usage in the future. We are confident of double-digit growth in the future," he said.