Aerial work platform: for smoother operations

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Application area, lifting capacity, working height, among others simplify choosing the right equipment.

Aerial work platforms (AWPs) are used for access purposes such as maintenance and construction. The old conventional ways of using ladders or scaffoldings are time consuming and not convenient or safe, whereas AWPs help in safe working in areas at great heights.

Boom lifts and man lifts in airports and metro rails

Better reach at height
Airports have greater extent of glass and aluminium facades on the exterior which needs to be maintained. Unlike other architectural structures, here the maintenance activities need to be done round the clock. There is no respite for any of the workers and their machines. International airports, in fact, get busier in late evening and are bustling with activity even through the night.

This has generated a demand for faster and better maintenance methods to be adopted; the emphasis is more on modern access machines which can reach the workers to the airport heights quickly. However, these access machines need to be safe as well besides being aesthetically appealing. The boom lifts and man lifts therefore are imperative to be incorporated in all airports and have proven to assist in better reach and to be far more convenient to operate as compared to conventional ladders and other methods. Gopal Modi, Executive Director, Mtandt Group informs, “Mtandt offers appropriate range of machines with better manoeuvrability, low ground bearing pressure exerted on those sensitive surfaces in the airport, compact, powered by silent and emission-free electric prime movers.”

For metro stations, the boom lifts and man lifts have almost the same challenges, though the access heights required in some cases may be at times lesser. As times change, so do the needs and pace. Boom lifts for metro and airports have also metamorphised to adapt to the challenges of heights, horizontal reach, corner access, aesthetics, etc.

Integral equipment for operation
AWP or booms lifts are most indispensable equipment required for airports and metro rail operation and maintenance. Krishna Patel, Senior Manager – Marketing, Maco Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd says, “Compared to old conventional methods of using ladders and scaffolding which are time consuming and unsafe, AWPs are safer and ready to use.” Any maintenance job at height in airports and metro rails can be easily accomplished with safety and without any wastage of time as compared to conventional methods with help of AWP.

Convenient and safe
One of the most indispensable equipment needed during the construction and maintenance of metro rails is the boom lifts and man lifts. This device is used to provide temporary access to areas at great heights. The old conventional ways of using ladders or scaffoldings are time consuming, and not convenient or safe. Jayesh Vadukiya, Managing Director, New Age Construction Equipment Engineering Company says, “Boom lifts and man lifts which are convenient and safe, are extensively used in metro rail and airports systems right from the construction stage to operation and maintenance.” There are different types of aerial work platforms such as push arounds, scissor lifts, vertical masts and telescopic masts and articulated boom lifts.

Versatile reaching capability
According to Cavas Dumasia, VP – Sales and Marketing, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Ltd, “Boom lifts like articulated or telescopic plays vital role in the operations at airports because they have an extended, all-around reach capability.” Articulated boom lifts are used in indoor and outdoor area for the access height range from 12-20 metres while telescopic boom range normally starts from 20-45 metres access height. Because of 3600 turret rotation and having battery power options, boom lifts are more preferred over scissor lifts at airports for the various applications like electrical and mechanical maintenance.
Preventive maintenance and inspection activities of the aircrafts can be easily carried out by these equipment which increases productivity and efficiency of maintenance and utility team at airports. Alternatively boom lifts can be used for carrying out activities ATC towers and high-mast towers. Compact size and ability to work in narrow areas make boom lifts preferred choice to use at metro stations for electrical and mechanical maintenance along with cleaning and painting activities.

Enhancing uptime

Consistent PDI
Mtandt’s main objective in the domain of rental of access machines is to aid the safety and time schedules of industrial and commercial projects. For this the company has always been focusing on younger machines in its fleet and a consistent pre-delivery inspection (PDI) for all machines deployed on rental. These are the two main steps taken to increase the uptime of machines.

Modi says, “We have gone a step further to take care of unexpected glitches during the machine use at site. With this we have been able to reduce the downtime even further. We have introduced a site supervisor at the project location itself.” This ensures constant monitoring of the machine performance, pre-alerts on possible technical issues, spares availability and so on. The machine operators have also been trained to tackle minor technical hiccups in the machine and the site supervisor provides a more radical touch to the issues with one’s problem solving skill sets.

Quality and regular maintenance
Patel suggests, “Enhancement of uptime of any equipment is depended upon two factors, quality of the equipment and regular maintenance.” Regular maintenance plays big part in uptime of the boom lifts. Genie and Maco service team makes sure that the customer’s machines are maintained regularly by conducting period maintenance.

Major steps considering uptime
Below are the major steps by Vadukiya to be considered while enhancing uptime of the equipment:

Read the operation and maintenance manual
The first thing one should do is read the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance manual.
Understand proper fluid levels and correct filters
Fluids, including engine oils, coolant, hydraulic fluid, grease and drive motor lubricants, need to be inspected on a regular basis.
Check the battery
Today’s compact construction machines constantly draw on the battery. Check ones excavator’s battery before operation.
Inspect the tracked undercarriage
It is vital to keep compact excavator undercarriages clean to help minimise any material build-up that can contribute to wear.
Prepare attachments ahead of time
Complete a visual check of the hydraulic hoses, cylinders and guards on the attachments, which can help determine if damage or wear has occurred.

Diversity of different tests
When a machine is manufactured in Appletree’s facility, it goes through a variety of tests. Once all these tests are successfully completed and approved, the machine is dispatched from the facility – a step that management has made mandatory. This procedure ensures the maximum uptime for the company’s machinery at different sites. The next step is the timely maintenance of these machines; to deal with this issue, the company has formed a dedicated in-house team that is responsible for this task. Sunil Malhotra, MD, Appletree Building Maintenance Pvt Ltd says, “Our experience has taught us that if machinery is manufactured using the correct procedure and timely maintenance is done; the downtime will be reduced tremendously.”

Foremost uptime enhancement
Dumasia says, “Having regular preventive maintenance of the equipment and having discipline of battery maintenance (testing of vital parameters and visual inspection), we can enhance the uptime of the equipment.” Naturally these activities will increases overall life of the equipment. Keeping sufficient stock of critical and vulnerable spares and service contract with OEMS or their authorised representative is the best idea for uptime enhancement of the equipment.

Tips for buying the right equipment

Parameters considering the right equipment selection
Modi from Mtandt says, “Right selection of equipment can reduce a great deal of pain during actual use of the purchased machine.” Some of the parameters that need to be considered while selecting the correct machine model is the vertical height required with the corresponding horizontal reach required. Many a time, the horizontal reach required at the ceiling height may be higher and would probably need a boom type machine with sufficient boom length to satisfy both the vertical height reach and the horizontal reach. Second important parameter is to know the usage to be indoors or outdoors. Accordingly, an electric machine or an engine-operated machine would need to be selected.

BiEnergy models are available as well to suit either indoor or outdoor use. The third important point is the flooring or the terrain on which the proposed machine is planned to be deployed on. For sensitive floors made up of granite, vitrified tiles or marble the slab strength will have to be taken into consideration to compare with the machine ground bearing pressure. Usually, for such sensitive floors a different range of access equipment called as spider lifts would be recommendable.

Entry doors or ramps through which the machines would need to be brought in, are another consideration. For machines proposed to be used only outdoors this would not be of much importance. However, for outdoor use, the drive speed would be essential to be understood. For large areas, where the access equipment need to travel more distances, a truck mounted or a towable version would be more suited, whereas for smaller areas, the self-propelled ones would suffice.

Choosing the correct equipment
Following are the points by Patel from Maco Corporation to consider while choosing the correct equipment:
• Application area
• Self-propelled or push around
• Working height
• Lifting capacity
• Type of job to be carried out
• Horizontal outreach
• Up and over clearance
• Indoor or outdoor application
• Type or terrain or floor on which the equipment will be used
• Power source (engine or battery)
• Width of the available access area

Pros and cons
Vadukiya says, “The right equipment can help your company weather economic downturns; a bad purchase can hurt your ability to compete. That’s why it’s crucial to analyse the pros and cons of every purchase, including the potential return on investment.”

Assess business reality
It is important to understand one’s objectives. Avoid being influenced by aggressive marketing campaigns that make unrealistic claims.
Be innovative
In today’s competitive business world, being innovative in everything he/she do is the key to success. Innovation is really about responding to change in a creative way.
Shop around for suppliers
The Internet gives one access to a wide range of specialised equipment companies, so take the time to browse. Check out newsletters targeting specific industries and attend trade shows where he/she can get some hands-on time with equipment.
Keep training in mind
All too often, entrepreneurs don’t consider the time, money and resources required to train employees on new equipment. One wants to avoid the productivity drop that occurs when employees take too much time to adapt to new technology or processes.
Know financing options
Every method of financing has advantages and disadvantages, so carefully evaluate each option. The factors to be considered vary from one company to the other, depending on his/her company’s credit record or line of business.
Think safety first
A healthy and safe work environment means the employees and company can be more productive, and this rule applies to one’s equipment and technology purchases as well. His/her suppliers are responsible for selling the equipment that can be used safely, but he/she is responsible for ensuring that the employees follow safety rules.

Light of buying the right equipment
In the last five years, the construction industry has gone through a major shift and many aspects of buildings which were never in the limelight are now suddenly a matter of concern for the developers. Malhotra from Appletree says, “With these criteria’s arising the developers have starting incorporating our systems from day 1 and it has proven to be beneficial in many ways.”

There are few tips which can be stated in the light of buying the right equipment such as incorporate a facade access company from day 1, the immediate cost is not everything, the future prospects and saving should also be considered, the facade consultant, architect and the facade access system provider should be in sync, all facade maintenance assumption of the future should be catered for by the developer.

Centre of gravity in buying process
First and foremost, while buying access equipment, purchaser must check the safety compliance of the equipment (European Standard EN280 is latest and reliable compliance). Dumasia says, “Safety and safety features must be the centre of gravity in buying process.” Secondly buyer should specify and clarify regarding usage of equipment indoor and outdoor. Access height, lifting capacity stowed dimensions, horizontal outreach power source and frequency of usage.

Right selection of equipment can reduce a great deal of pain during actual use of the purchased machine.
Gopal Modi, Executive Director, Mtandt Group

Enhancement of uptime of any equipment depends upon two factors ­- quality of the equipment and regular maintenance.
Krishna Patel, Sr. Manager – Marketing, Maco Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd

The right equipment can help your company weather economic downturns; a bad purchase can hurt your ability to compete.
Jayesh Vadukiya, Managing Director, New Age Construction Equipment Engineering Company

If machinery is manufactured using the correct procedure and timely maintenance is done, the downtime will be reduced tremendously.
Sunil Malhotra, MD, Appletree Building Maintenance Pvt Ltd

Boom lifts like articulated or telescopic play vital role in the operations at airports because they have an extended, all-around reach capability.
Cavas Dumasia, VP – Sales and Marketing, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Ltd

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