Johnson Arabia makes AWPs more safe and accessible for rental customers

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COVID-19 has brought new challenges to working on jobsites, let alone working at height. One of the consequences of social distancing and other COVID-19 safety protocols on jobsites that employ aerial work platforms (AWPs) has been a decrease in productivity. As more than one operator is not allowed on the platform or basket at a time, additional equipment is required to meet deadlines. This means AWP rental customers need to factor in additional rental costs to get the same job done.

Gareth Conley, executive manager - AWP, Johnson Arabia, says: “This is a short term expense as safety is crucial in the current environment where close contact with an individual could lead to COVID-19 transmission. Renting two units instead of one helps prevent a site or production shutdown that could be financially more draining in the long term.”

COVID-19 protocols followed by Johnson Arabia include distancing, extra hygiene and temperature checks in addition to the company’s existing health and safety operational procedures. All employees including operators are required to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet apart from each other and wear masks. Operators are required to disinfect themselves regularly, every time they use an AWP and in between their shifts.

Gareth Conley, executive manager - AWP, Johnson Arabia.

“We ensure the availability of masks for all staff and operators, and that they are disposed off correctly. The disinfection process for all our equipment includes a deep cleaning of the machine before it goes to the client site. We recommend that machines be disinfected in between use as well. We further disinfect each machine a second time in our yard once we get it back. As a rule, Johnson Arabia always maintains their equipment on a regular basis, irrespective of COVID-19, as this is a key metric to ensure zero unplanned downtime for projects, to reduce revenue loss for us and our clients due to inoperative, dirty or faulty equipment,” says Conley.

Conley emphasizes that the above-mentioned practices make jobsites as safe as they could be for working at height. This also debunks the idea among some rental companies that installing protective barriers could enable two operators to work together in the basket.

“Installing protective barriers isn’t practical as the baskets usually have one gate for entry and exit. Doing this would compromise the safety of the operators in case they need to get out of the basket quickly in a given situation. It is recommended that customers rent two pieces of equipment if they need two people working at height,” he says.

Conley comments on how customer behaviour has changed since the COVID-19 crisis. According to him, rental is the way to go in the current and even future markets.

“Customers are now more inclined to rent equipment than buy them because we effectively negate the maintenance and operational costs associated with owning equipment. They are recognizing this as an opportunity to get the most out of their returns since we do all the heavy lifting for them figuratively and literally! 

Research indicates that the AWP market size was over $17.5 billion globally in 2019 and is estimated to grow at over 6% between 2020 and 2026. We imagine a lot of rental opportunities coming our way in 2021 in the region because stalled projects across the GCC will restart at full capacity soon and there will be infrastructure upgrades, especially in the telecom and communication sectors. As postponed events return, the events sector will need access platforms and so will many other sectors, and we have the ability to rent to them easily because of our large fleet size,” says Conley.

Johnson Arabia offers 24x7 support via WhatsApp, which, according to Conley, has helped improve customer service significantly.

“Our clients are able to send us images and videos for any questions they may have about the equipment, instantly. We are able to respond to these in a better way and go to the site better equipped. We also receive inquiries through 052-LIFTING (543 8464), which helps our sales team respond to them faster,” says Conley.
Currently, Johnson Arabia maintains a fleet of over 700 AWPs, with a 70/30 split between boom lifts and scissor lifts.

Building on its market leadership in the UAE, the rental company is expanding its footprint in Oman and plans to enter Saudi Arabia in a couple of years.

“We started off the year very strong and COVID-19 caused a dip in our asset utilization. This is steadily increasing now considering all business are opening up and returning back to the new normal,” says Conley.

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PMV Middle East - September 2020

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