C&L, Cranes & Lifting, Features

Elevating the access sector

The Preston Hire “SuperElevate” EWP fleet is designed for specialist access applications. It features products designed to fill gaps in the market with capabilities other equipment cannot match.

The Preston Hire philosophy has always been to provide specialised hire equipment delivering unique capabilities and efficiencies to its customers. With an impressive fleet of mini crawlers, telescopic crawlers and their renowned SuperDeck retractable loading platforms, many are surprised to discover their impressive EWP category too – a range of specialised access gear that has been consistently growing for the past five years.

According to Maurizio Salza, Preston Hire’s head of sales, the Preston Hire “SuperElevate” EWP fleet is all about specialist access. “Our EWP fleet has been specifically chosen to fill gaps in the market with capabilities other equipment can’t offer. We are the brand for complex or unique access solutions whilst also being very capable to complete general access work too,” said Salza.

Preston Hire began purchasing access equipment in 2015 starting the EWP fleet with two Haulotte Opti 8, now known as the SuperElevate 8s. These machines were first seen at ASPAC in September 2015 and subsequently followed by an impressive visit to the Haulotte premises for a product demonstration. With the vision now coming to life, two bi-levelling scissor lifts were then added to the fleet – Athena 630 and 850 models – which were seen as specialised products and a good fit to complement existing Preston Hire SuperCranes on site.

“Our commitment to providing specialised hire equipment largely comes from recognising regular site challenges and finding equipment that will provide solutions and extensive benefits to our customers. Our involvement in the EWP category has organically evolved with three clear phases to date,” said Salza.

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“During the initial phase, we purchased scissor lifts for our own use. We had a SuperDeck project which had a high floor ceiling, and therefore tall props, which we needed to safely install. It was a long-term project with a customer we worked closely with. The customer advised they would have other uses for these machines throughout the project, so we included them in our hire package. We learned a lot about the range of applications the scissor lifts provided onsite and saw the potential for their inclusion in our fleet,” he said.

The concept of spider lifts and bi-levelling scissor lifts was very new in Australia five years ago, thus proving a good fit for our business model and demonstrating our innovative and forward-thinking approach to equipment selection, says Salza.

“There are some obvious similarities these machines had with our existing spider cranes creating a natural complement to see cranes and EWP equipment working side by side. The second phase in our EWP fleet development was highlighting to customers our ability to provide multiple machines for their needs. We would often see photos of a Preston Hire crane alongside another company’s access equipment. We set out to change this and have helped many customers reduce their hire equipment contact points by benefiting from our broader range,” explained Salza.

According to Salza, the third phase of the development saw Preston Hire become highly specialised in this equipment area with the launch of PrestonHire Rail. This coincided with the acquisition of a fleet of highly specialised Hi Rail EWP Boom lifts opening the doors to yet another industry sector to offer services to.

“This is a dedicated field with high barriers for entry; however, our ability to specialise within the business allowed this to be a natural next step in diversification, expanding our services to a broader customer base.”

“Work within the rail industry infrastructure consists largely of two types: new build, and maintenance works. Preston Hire has the ability to provide multiple pieces of equipment for these works beyond just our hi-rail machines. Our range allows us to provide cranes, trollies and rail-specific machines, greatly simplifying the process for customer,” he said.

Today, the EWP fleet totals approximately 60 units with roughly a 50 per cent split between Booms and Bi-levelling lifts. Every unit within the fleet is no older than five years and features various brands including Bluelift spider booms, Platform Basket spider booms, hi-rail EWP boom lifts, Haulotte Opti 8 scissor lifts and Almac all terrain scissor lifts.

Although you will often see an elevated work platform in a support role wherever a crane is, the customer profile for Preston Hire’s SuperCranes and SuperElevate range isn’t always the same, says Salza.

“The requirements for crane and access equipment varies from job to job and from customer to customer. But, as I mentioned earlier, we identified many jobs which required both types of machinery. Our fleet capabilities have been carefully selected to complement each other and provide a complete solution,” he said.

All the machines in the fleet have been hand-picked to make them unique in their field. A range of the  specialisations include:

  • Non-marking tracks;
  • Overall lighter weight machines making them suitable for suspended slab applications when compared to other booms or knuckles offered in the market;
  • Versatility of articulated boom;
  • The ability to work on steep gradients increasing grade ability and manoeuvrability;
  • Multiple power source options are available including diesel, petrol, lithium batteries and 240v;
  • Remote controls enabling use of the machine from the ground or basket;
  • Working below ground level is available for some machines; and
  • Removable baskets to enable access through tight areas and greater accessibility.

“As with all of our equipment, quality, reliability, maintenance, and service is essential,” says Salza. “As far as our equipment is concerned, quality and reliability has always been at the core of what Preston Hire stands for. For our EWP fleet, we ensure mandatory 90-day services and pre-hire and de-hire before and after every hire.”

“Working closely with our servicing partner, SuperService, we employ a rigorous process before and after every hire of a EWP machine. This guarantees every machine is well maintained for longevity and provides us with the confidence that every customer receives a machine that is ready for hire. We recognise how competitive the standard EWP category is, so combining our specialist products with quality machinery that works every time is a huge and necessary priority that differentiates us from others,” he said.

“At Preston Hire, we are committed to putting the customer first,” said Salza. “It is amazing to see the range of applications our EWP fleet has benefited and the countless challenges we have provided solutions for. I’m constantly impressed by how far we can push these machines. I welcome any job, big or small, to put us to the test and learn first-hand why you can count on us.”

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