Souma Ray elaborates on the AWP market scenario in India and his company?s commitment to this evolving market.

Aerial work platforms are not just machines that ensure safety to people when they are working at height but alongside it vastly increases productivity. Work can be done more efficiently and quickly, and timelines can be met. The biggest issue for all projects is timely completion of work. Using traditional methods of accessing heights to undertake a job is not only unsafe but time consuming too. Use of various variants of AWPs based on application and nature of work involved allows work to be completed in time and most importantly, safely.

Market trends
The AWP sector in India is still in its fledgling stage and immature as compared to the developed nations wherein it is mandatory by law to use such machines, when you need to work at heights over 3 m. Over the years, the awareness has been growing across sectors such as construction, infrastructure, facility management, maintenance, manufacturing, power, mining, hospitality, etc. More and more sectors are getting added as users of AWPs. Yet, we have a long way to go unless users understand the advantages of using such a multifarious machine over the traditional methods of accessing heights for work which are not only unsafe but also unproductive.

Safety first
Life is priceless, hence safety of the workmen who have to access heights in doing their work is of utmost importance. First-time buyers sometimes do worry about the price but it is imperative that the correct variant of AWP needs to be chosen, based on the need of the customer. We at Haulotte always believe in doing application study and suggest the right machine to our customers. We play the role of being a one-stop solution provider to our customers when it comes to working at heights. Like I have mentioned before, using an AWP not only ensures safety but it enhances productivity, which is one of the most important factors deciding the cost of operations. Hence, AWPs shouldn?t be considered as a luxury for any projects, rather more of such machines should be used which will ensure timely completion of job and protection to lives.

It is a sad fact that in India, we still aren?t serious about working safely at heights. That is why traditional methods of accessing heights such as bamboo scaffoldings are widely used with great disregard to life. In the modern world, AWPs are used extensively and have become a part and parcel of any industry. Of course, awareness plays a major role in propagating the advantages in using AWPs and we at Haulotte lay a major emphasis in spreading the message. We regularly participate in major exhibitions in the country, either directly or through our distributor Gemini Power Hydraulics Pvt Ltd. This is a major platform to introduce customers/users to the multifarious use of AWPs. Besides this, we also spread awareness through various articles such as this one through sectoral magazines to reach out to a wider audience across the country. The Haulotte India website which is very specific to India provides all details of our range of machines and also plays a vital role in reaching out to our existing and potential customers.

Technology development
There is a constant strive by all major manufacturers of AWPs to update the technology in their machines, not only to keep up with the changing needs of the customers, but also to make the machines more user-friendly and efficient, and ensure optimum level of safety while in operation. At Haulotte, we always hear the voice of our customers and their needs, hence are continuously innovating in terms of our R&D in introducing newer and more user-friendly technology and also working to expand our product line. We are already revamping our older models which have stood the test of time with newer technologies.

Our R&D team is working relentlessly to incorporate the best safety features in our machines so as to make them safe as well as give optimum performance to the user?s needs. One of the recent technological advancements we have introduced in our diesel boom lifts is the Entrapment Prevention System, ACTIV? Shield? Bar. This is a secondary guarding system that ensures safety of the worker in an entrapment situation. The system once activated allows on reverse and down function of the machine, thus preventing further danger to the worker. The system, unlike some of our competitors? offerings, can be reset from the platform itself, thus saving both time and money.

Each of our models and variants have their own USP, but one of the many distinguishing notable features is in the lower ground control box of our new generation articulating and telescopic booms. We have incorporated the Haulotte diagnostic screen in the panel which will enable the user to get all details of performance and related parameter at the touch of a button. Further, any fault diagnosis can also be done on this screen, which gives a pictorial description of the nature and location of the fault. This tremendously helps in reducing the downtime of the machine and any intervention can be done in the shortest possible time.

Apart from this, our newest introduction is the provision of LED lights integrated on our new HT28RTJ 28m telescopic boom to facilitate safe loading operations of the machine at night. Furthermore, our emphasis will also be to ensure increased availability of the equipment, enabling the users to get higher rental rates and productivity.

Skill development
With constant development of technology, operators need adequate and proper training for optimum utilisation of the equipment. Skill India is an excellent initiative taken by the government as this is with the aim of raising the level of competencies to be in line with the developed countries. This will of course draw more investments in the country. However, we sincerely hope that the government also strongly considers getting a legislation in terms of safe working at heights which will definitely increase the use of aerial access equipment and would benefit the industry as a whole.

Growth drivers
We at Haulotte always believe in the principle of ?Customer Proximity? and that is the reason even for a nascent market like India is today for AWP industry, we have foreseen the potential this country has and decided to base ourselves in India as an Indian registered company. The local presence acts as a major catalyst in customers? minds and thus builds customer confidence on us as an organisation and our products. The key growth driver in a competitive market is being there where the requirements are, being able to respond to the needs of your customer at the shortest possible time, and most importantly position your products in terms of specifications and price points that customers find lucrative.

As on YTD basis, the overall business scenario has been good and we have also been able to increase our market share and strengthen our leadership position. We are hopeful that the same trend shall continue in 2017.

Market outlook
The access equipment industry in India is still at a nascent stage as compared to Europe, USA, Australia, Asia and BRICS nations like China, Russia and Brazil (before their economic slump in the last two years). The growth and demand of access equipment is mainly driven by rental companies. However in India, rental companies still prefer procuring old and used equipment over new machines, owing to the low rental rates and severe competition from smaller players. In order for the Indian access equipment sector to mature, customers should not only look at the lowest rental rates, but also age and condition of machines because such equipment is directly related to safety. It is essential for customers hiring access equipment to be aware of the advantages of using newer and younger machines which have better performance, safety and thus better productivity as compared to older machines. Unfortunately, despite the efforts being put in by the manufacturers and the established rental companies in spreading the awareness, not much growth has been witnessed in the past two years. Although the demand of AWPs across various sectors are steadily growing, the use of such equipment has to be made mandatory and not optional for safe working at heights.

Yet, we are very optimistic for a strong growth in the rental as well as the end-user sector, in the years ahead. As the access industry matures in India and users become more aware on the advantages to use of such equipment over conventional practices of working at heights, the rental sector in India poised for a very bright and promising future.

Looking forward
We consider India as the most important emerging market. That is the reason we took the decision to open a full-fledged subsidiary in India to reaffirm our commitments to our customers in India. Although the market for mobile aerial access platforms is still nascent in India, we are confident that the growth shall be exponential in the years to come. Our direct local presence in India for the past four years reaffirms our faith.

India is not different from other developed nations. The dynamics may be different, but at the end of the day, it won?t be completely different from the best practices what the world follows. With the pace at which the Indian economy is growing, many economists term it as the ?Last Emerging Market?. In sync with the view, we are very confident that in the years ahead India will be one of the most major markets for AWPs.

AWPs which include 7 product range in over 60 models:

  • Articulating booms: From 12 to 41 m working height, diesel or electric powered. 
  • Scissors lift: From 8 to 18 m working height, equipped with rough terrain diesel for outside applications or silent electric for interior use, platform capacity ranges from 230 to 1,000 kg
  • Telescopic booms: From 14 to 43 m working height
  • Vertical masts: From 6 to 10 m. They can be used both outdoor and indoor
  • Push around: From 7 to 14 m working height. This light compact machine is designed for fragile floor surfaces
  • Trailer booms: From 12 to 26 m, their compactness and lightweight allow them to be towed to any site.

Telehandler range: Haulotte telehandler offers maximum stability (obtained by locking the rear axle, thus solidifying the chassis) unmatchable handiness giving operational flexibility, progressiveness and precision: In addition to its wealth of on-board technology, the Haulotte telehandler is also endowed with the power of a diesel engine and the versatility of its many accessories. Its general ergonomics improve visibility and allow easy maintenance.

  • 10 m working height: 5 machines with maximum lift capacity 3,200 kg, 3,500 kg, 4,000 kg, 5,200 kg and 7,000 kg
  • 14 m working height: 2 machines with maximum lift capacity 3,600 kg and 4,000 kg
  • 17 m working height: 2 machines with maximum lift capacity 3,600 kg and 4,000 kg

The author is Director, Haulotte India.