Insights to the way ahead for the global access market
The Global Access Meeting held in Melbourne, immediately prior to HIRE19 in 21 May, discussed safety advice from Worksafe Victoria. Themeeting included a Standards update and news from the UK as well as opportunities for information technology to further develop and deliver substantial productivity and ROI.
Chris Dowson, from Horizon Platforms in the UK, presented on the UK powered access market
Although Telematics technology has been around for some time, the pace is now quickening as recognition of the potential benefits escalates.
David Swan, Product Manager Technology and Innovation at Skyjack in Canada, said a digitalisation wave is coming which is likely to result in substantial expansion of the global access industry, an increasingly valuable workforce and improved productivity.
“Digitalisation is about the worksite of the future. It does include drones, robots and driverless machines, but the first step is using technology to streamline day-to-day tasks and create a more efficient worksite,” he said.
“McKinsey’s 2017 report Reinventing Construction: A Route to Higher Productivity revealed the construction industry is one of the least digitised and there is a US$1.6 trillion opportunity to close the gap.
“Telematics can be a key driver in achieving improved productivity in the construction industry. We are talking about cloud-based applications that report on the health of the machine and in the future provide predictive maintenance indicators to ensure machines stay in top shape.
“Through Telematics machines in the field can be fully connected so rental companies and service technicians can send and receive useful information.”
David said there are three phases of digitalisation: connectivity, action and intelligence, and we are currently at the first two stages, where, for example, rental companies can lock-out machines remotely to avoid occurrences such as engine damage or theft.
“Phase three (intelligence) is when a machine can state its condition and environment. This involves replacing manual processes with discrete autonomous behaviours, such as automatic function testing. At Skyjack the target is to get autonomous machines into the market in the near future,” David said.
“Development of intelligent machines requires a rigorous testing process. Skyjack respects the intent of international standards in offering protection, but new technology can mean we, as an industry, have to think differently about the way we implement solutions to the standards and I think standards bodies need to be open to new approaches.
“We are working towards pushing the boundaries of business as usual, but if Skyjack cannot execute on something safely, we will not do it.”
A standards update was also provided at the Global Access Meeting by Peter Davis, Executive General Manager – Fleet at Coates Hire, relating to ISO 21455 (Operator controls), ISO 16368 revision (Design calculations) and ISO 18893 (Safety principles, inspection, maintenance and operation).
Peter said a recent EWPA meeting in London worked through various standards with a view to establishing global standards relating to the design and safe use of MEWPs that all manufacturers will work to.
“In particular the meeting reviewed ISO 21455 (Operator controls) and considered such factors as work platform controls, including position and defined movement of controls, multi-purpose controls, and the grouping of controls according to function,” he said.
“The committee also started a revision of ISO 18893 to reflect the latest requirements and safety features for MEWPs for prevention of personal injuries and accidents as well as the establishment of criteria for inspection, maintenance and operation. Some real advances for safety globally could be achieved.”
UK access market
The meeting also featured a presentation by Chris Dowson, from Horizon Platforms in the UK, on the UK powered access market.
Chris said the UK market is quiet and challenging, with no real growth.
“Sales of MEWPs in 2017 grew by 2% and in 2018 growth remained at 2%. Average utilisation in 2017 was 68% rising to 69% in 2018,” he said.
“The market has been affected by a range of factors including uncertainty relating to Brexit, and some construction contractors have collapsed. However, cheap finance is available and there are some new entrants to the sector.”
In his presentation to the meeting, Anthony Cockerell from WorkSafe Victoria said the construction industry continues to see near misses, incidents and poor work practices relating to the operation of EWPs.
“It is critical safe work practices are followed including the development of a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) to identify risks from the movement of the EWP and the measures to be implemented to control the risk are stated. This includes risks to the EWP operator, other persons (passengers) on the platform, and pedestrians on the ground, including the public,” he said.
“Mobilising the EWP with additional people on the work platform should be avoided where possible. One way of assisting with this is to dismount the EWP and use the remote control to drive the machine through a doorway or opening. It is also desirable to have another person on the other side of the doorway to assist the operator and warn him of any dangers.
“By following these procedures, the risk of people on the platform being crushed against the door frame is eliminated.”
Anthony said action is being taken by WorkSafe, in consultation with stakeholders, to develop a new industry standard for EWPs.