Aerial work platforms evolved from ladders and scaffolding. They allow people to work at levels off of the ground safely. Depending on the lift and platform capacity, workers are able to have tools, materials and even a power source on the same elevation they are. Most options are self-propelled and operators are able to move certain machines from area to area with the lift extended. AWP’s are available as scissor or boom lifts and are powered either electrically or with internal combustion engines. We are primarily interested in self-propelled lifts. Boom lifts are also available as towable units and we reflect on those machines as well. There are between 350 and 400 AWP models offered by approximately 15 manufacturers in North America today.
Many manufacturers regard towable boom lifts as a growing niche in the marketplace. They are popular with rental companies, which buy the bulk of AWPs sold, because they can be used in specific applications that have accessibility constraints and cost less to rent. This is especially attractive for small contractors; they can reach the same heights as self-propelled machines but at lower rental rates (almost half the rental rate in most areas). In addition there is no need to transport them to a job site as they can be towed behind a truck; there is no need for tractor, flatbed or goose neck trailers. Towable boom lift unit sales are included in our boom lift sales and production figures.
Most work platforms are wheeled, however, tracked work platforms have had some success in North America and are a growing niche market. Tracked boom lifts are seen on job sites where space is tight and the ground pressure can’t take the weight of a wheeled machine. At this time, half of the AWP suppliers to the North American market offer some type of tracked machine as noted later in Table 15.
The market for OEMs is a stable one; most suppliers have been in the business for decades and, unlike in the equipment rental business, there isn’t much consolidation in the market place. The biggest news since our last report is that JCB entered the North American aerial work platform market in early 2017. It will offer 27 models of “access” machines, both scissor and boom lifts, in the U.K., France, Germany and in North America by the end of 2017. We expect the company to be able to establish a foothold here rather quickly as it already has a distribution system and favorable brand recognition here because of its line of construction machines currently available in North America.