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The evolution of access equipment – helping you work smarter, faster and safely at height

Discover how access equipment innovation is improving the safety and efficiency of working at height


Before the days of Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWP’s), working at heights consisted of either constructing scaffold or temporary structures to access high places, or would require the operator to climb and do the required work while tethered to a beam. Fortunately, access equipment has come a long way since then, with particular design innovation during the past 5-10 years making working at height increasingly safe and efficient.

“Even 20 years ago, small construction and maintenance jobs could take a whole day because of the inefficiencies of working at height," says Dan Goodfellow, Group Manager - Products and Fleet Trading at Coates. “Historically, there were also a lot more serious safety incidents while working at height, without the protection that’s available to operators and bystanders today.”

Working safely at height

The evolution of access equipment has created much greater choice, but in doing so it has also led to some poor equipment choices. This is why for Dan, working safely at height always begins with finding the right equipment.

Access equipment

Innovation in access equipment like knuckle booms, straight booms and scissor lifts is driving increases in efficiency and safety

“Choosing equipment that is the wrong size for the job, that has the wrong power source or isn’t suited to the environment you will be working in, can create unnecessary risk. It can also lead to cost and productivity inefficiencies,” he says. “With Australia’s largest access fleet, Coates can tailor its equipment to meet individual customer needs. Our product specialists also have the experience to help customers navigate this range to make the right equipment hire choices.”

“With every customer engagement we offer guidance on choosing equipment that will be safe and efficient for the ground conditions customers will experience on site; the environment they will be working in; and the type of work that needs to be performed,” Dan continues.

Even with the right access equipment, working at height will always carry risk. However, design evolution continues to focus on improving customer safety to combat this risk. “We’ve seen a lot of innovation around making access equipment safer and more reliable, with particular advancements in secondary protections and operator warning systems,” says Dan .

“Over the past 5 years Coates has been pioneering in its approach to safety, partnering with leading manufacturers and independent designers to develop multiple safety systems that are both practical and cost effective to retrofit,” says Dan. “We’ve made secondary guarding mandatory on all booms in the Coates fleet, including knuckle booms and straight booms, and made operator protection mandatory on all new scissor lifts that we bring into our access fleet. We also continue to trial and invest in other technologies to improve the safety of our customers and our wider fleet.”

Driving performance through versatility

Dan describes versatility as another standout feature of modern access equipment, with innovation allowing operators to safely and efficiently perform a much wider variety of tasks. "In current equipment there is much more efficiency in machines that make the tasks for the operator easier to complete. Functions like driving at height, multi-function movement, start/stop technology, auto levelling, load weight management and tilt sensors, just to name a few.” he says.

“Modern access equipment can carry increasingly heavier, bulkier and more useful loads. And it can incorporate bi-levelling technology that allows you to level as you travel to work on much rougher terrain and steeper angles,” Dan continues. “Innovation has also been applied to reduce the size and improve the capacity, outreach and manoeuvrability of access equipment, allowing work to be performed on suspended slabs and in tight and confined spaces – advancements that afford customers significant gains in safety and efficiency.”

High efficiency with low emissions

Over time the environmental performance of access equipment has significantly improved, giving customers the power to choose equipment that utilises greener fuels and produce lower emissions.

“Over the last two years Coates has almost doubled its Greener Choices range, allowing customers to choose quieter, more sustainable and high performing access equipment. This range is also helping customers to meet their ESG targets and to deliver on increasingly rigorous environmental standards,” says Dan.

Sustainable access equipment

The hybrid knuckle boom allows 4wd operation in rough conditions or emissions-free operation in low-emissions zones

Coates’ access range now includes a high volume of electric and hybrid equipment, which is lower in emissions, safer to use in enclosed spaces and offers greater flexibility for working quietly at night. Where electric options aren’t available, Coates can offer customers hybrid and low emission Stage 5 (or Q4) engine alternatives. In addition to the environmental benefits, this range helps customers to realise cost efficiencies over traditional diesel-only equipment, which can quickly add up on larger and longer projects.

Quality and innovation guaranteed

While there continues to be considerable innovation around access equipment, some older and outdated machines still exist in the Australian hire market, and Dan urges customers to do their research when choosing an equipment hire provider to ensure they get mechanically safe and compliant equipment.

“Coates takes great care in selecting equipment suppliers and manufacturers, and when we evaluate new products, we spend a lot of time on due diligence around compliance, service and maintenance systems. We also consider the capability and presence that suppliers have in Australia to remedy any issues to give customers the assurance that equipment will perform as expected when it arrives on site,” says Dan. “To access the innovation that will allow you and your team to work safely and efficiently at height, it’s important to choose an equipment hire partner that does prioritise growing and innovating its fleet.”

Call 13 15 52 to speak to a Coates product specialist today about hiring access equipment.

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