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Aerial Working Platform Rental Services Reaching New Heights in Construction

September 25, 2020, 07:00 AM
Filed Under: Construction

Aerial working platforms have been playing an invaluable role in infrastructural development in emerging economies, particularly the construction of high rises, which has gained traction in recent years, according to Global Market Insights. According to estimates, nearly 86 tall buildings, i.e. buildings of 200-meter height or more, were constructed in Asia in 2019. And the U.S., as on early 2019, has over 210 skyscrapers over 200 meters, and around 780 buildings over 150 meters. It has been speculated that as of February 2019, there were around 21 supertall skyscrapers completed in the U.S., while, numerous others are planned or under construction.

Such prolific developments in the construction landscape have triggered the need for efficient construction equipment, chief among them being aerial working platforms or AWPs. Aerial working platforms or aerial lifts are elevated mechanic equipment, designed to enable people to reach otherwise inaccessible places at great heights.

These devices essentially give crane operators the ability to reach and work on areas that are otherwise inaccessible to humans. The application scope of AWPs is vast, spanning construction activities, cleaning & maintenance activities for buildings, and even firefighting applications.

Since construction projects comprise several types of tasks, many organizations choose to rent equipment like AWPs, that are suitable for specific applications. In terms of product, the AWP rental market is categorized broadly into scissor lifts, boom lifts, personnel portable lifts, and vertical mast lifts.

Strong Focus on Construction & Infrastructure Development in the U.S.

Infrastructural integrity is among the most fundamental pillars of a successful economy. To that end, governments the world over are consistently involved in the development of novel construction projects as well as metro-stations, railway networks and airports, among other infrastructural projects. This is specifically more prevalent in the U.S., on account of its strong economy and the necessity for sophisticated infrastructure in the region.

To illustrate, in 2019 the U.S. Department of Transportation, under the INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America) discretionary grant program, approved an investment of nearly $856 million towards the development of railway and other related infrastructures. Almost $135.5 million of this grant was earmarked by the government to rebuild two railway corridors in the region.

Advanced construction innovations are also garnering significant interest in the United States over the past few years. For instance, modular and prefab constructions are gaining ground in the U.S. region, backed by strong technological support for off-site modular unit construction, and the focus on next-gen, green building designs. Technological progress has also allowed for the construction of taller modular and prefab buildings, such as the CitizenM Bowery Hotel in New York City, which has 21 stories.

Speaking of tall buildings, a notable mention is the Vista Tower. A 93-story behemoth that is speculated to be completed this year, the Vista Tower is likely to become the third-tallest tower in Chicago post completion.

These developments, alongside myriad others taking place across the globe, are providing a significant boost to global construction trends and opening up lucrative growth avenues for the AWP rental industry in the process.

Rented Construction Equipment Makes Its Mark in the U.S. Economy

The construction industry has a general rule of thumb when it comes to the rent vs buy debate. The numerical rule states that if a piece of equipment remains unused for over 60-70 percent of the time, rentals are a more economical and profitable decision.

Indeed, a growing number of contractors in the United States are now becoming enlightened about the benefits of renting construction equipment. Apart from the financial flexibility, rented construction equipment gives contractors the freedom to select machines suited for specific tasks, in terms of size, power, and other parameters, rather than having to purchase a machine that has more generic functions. Furthermore, construction rentals can also give contractors the ability to test and execute sophisticated and emerging technologies at more economical price points.

The rented construction equipment industry in the US especially has been focused largely on enhancing rental offerings, from the equipment itself to platforms that help streamline the rental process. For instance, Hitched Inc. an industrial rental equipment marketplace for myriad industries closed a $5.5 million Series A funding round led by Cottonwood Venture Partners, in 2020. This investment effort was aimed at strengthening the position of the Hitched platform as a transparent and efficient management tool for optimization of rental inventory for both the renter, as well as the rentee.

Meanwhile, prominent businesses offering AWP rentals have also been involved in various strategic maneuvers, including product expansions, more flexible rental plans, and more. A notable example of this is the 2017 launch of a new aerial lift platform by construction equipment rental firm GMG (Global Machinery Group, Inc.), which entered the AWP rental market with its slab electric scissor lifts portfolio, comprising seven models.

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