An engine-free adjustable work platform from Finland is breathing fresh life into a long-overlooked segment of the rental market.
Impact injuries caused by falls are by far the most common type of workplace-related health & safety incident. Most of these falls take place when working at or just above head height, typically from ladders. Without safety rails and stabilizers, ladders aren’t always a safe choice. But they’re still widely used, as scaffolds take time to build, and MEWPs can be cumbersome and may require specialist knowledge to operate.
So a gap in the market for an alternative to ladders and scaffolds has long existed, and it’s now fast being filled by a product from Finland called IXOLIFT: a lightweight push-around for working safely at heights of up to four metres. Powered only by an internal gas-spring, IXOLIFT is classified as an adjustable work platform on the Nordic market, so it does not require a license to operate. Its compact size also makes it easy to move through doorways and into elevators.
It’s little surprise then that IXOLIFT is suddenly getting a lot of attention from rental companies, who view it as a safe, reliable, ergonomic and environmentally-friendly alternative for their customers in a market segment that has long been overlooked by equipment manufacturers.
THUMBS-UP FROM RAMIRENT
“The largest construction companies in Finland came together some time ago and drew up shared safety guidelines for ladders, with recommendations for additional stabilizing support and extra hand rails when used for working at heights of over two meters,” says Ramirent industrial-equipment business manager for Finland, Jukka Pönkänen.
“There is also an ergonomic question when working at these heights, as you typically need to tense your body for stability and stretch up or crouch down – all of which places strain on the back and legs,” he says. “So we were looking for an alternative to ladders that would be safe and comfortable for our rental customers, but just as easy to use and move around. That’s when we found IXOLIFT.”
European rental-giant Ramirent first took IXOLIFT into its fleet in mid 2016, bringing the platform along on a roadshow in Finland to gauge customer reactions. Less than 12 months later the company has IXOLIFTs in use at multiple locations around the country, with customers using it for everything from the construction of a new power station to everyday maintenance in hospitals and factories.
“Demand has been surprisingly strong,” says Pönkanen. “And the IXOLIFT team has been a really good supplier for us. In the beginning we had some ideas – both our own and from our customers – about small modifications that could be done to improve the product. They listened to all of these and made the necessary adjustments, which have been really good for our customers. They’re an excellent team to work with and I think there are a lot more markets they can enter with this product.”
Europe and beyond
“The rental customers will like this product, there is no doubt,” says Hejgaard. “I’ve seen a lot of different elevation platforms and scaffold ladders on the market, but IXOLIFT falls in a space between all of these. I think there is a very real need for it, as a lot of activities take place at or below four metres.”
“IXOLIFT is actually a very simple product, because there are no electrics and there is no oil involved,” she says. “This also makes it suitable for use in industries like pharmaceutical production, hospitals, catering and others where hygiene is important and hydraulic MEWPs are not allowed. So there is really an opportunity here to build a new market.”
The right features
“We have tried to streamline IXOLIFT as much as possible to make the best solution for the mass market,” says company CEO Johan Friis. “There is a global need for this product, as it really fits in everywhere.”
“You just have to see it in action to understand how easy it is to use,” says Friis with a smile. “You simply pull the handle and up you go – safely, easily and without anything to worry about.”
IXOLIFT will be on show at the International Rental Exhibition (IRE) in Amsterdam from 2-4 May 2017.
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