Electric scissors offer a versatile and effective solution in North America
06 February 2024
Electric scissor lifts offer a versatile and effective solution for working at height, especially in indoor settings. To get a sense of where technology is headed with these machines, ALH talked to manufacturers about their latest introductions and future plans.
The electric scissor lift market in North America is expected to be buoyant this year. With data centers, mega projects and high-rise construction propelling the market, we asked companies for their take on applications, trends and more. Here’s what they had to say.
ALH: Regarding use, what’s the biggest trend (or trends) occurring with electric scissors right now? Why?
Gary Crook, director of engineering, MEC Aerial Work Platforms: Higher platform capacities are popular requests from trades. This is partly due to platform overload sensing nuisances and partly to carry more material with each lifting task. Theft of batteries is a growing issue, MEC has a means of prevention for new machines and kits for existing field machines.
Malcolm Early, vice president of marketing, Skyjack: I would think that the adoption of new technology that improves duty cycles and product sustainability in general. We have seen the emergence of more machines with E-drive motors, not least in the form of Skyjack’s SJ3215 E and SJ3219 E. 2024 will also see the addition of Skyjack’s larger DC Scissors machines with E-Drive.
The micro has now developed away from a niche to a meaningful segment. Driven by a move away from ladder use for low-level access and towards increased utilization in specific environments such as data centers that require operation in restricted areas and on suspended flooring whereby low floor loading is required.
Christian Dube, global product manager, Genie: We’re continuing to see strong demand in North America, and globally, for our Genie GS-1932m and GS-1432m micro scissors. They’re extremely versatile and cost effective to own, so they provide a strong return for rental companies. They’re also popular with equipment operators because they’re highly maneuverable, they can reach jobsites that traditional scissor lifts can’t reach, and they offer the same productivity benefits of a standard-sized scissor lift.
In terms of trends, around the industry, there is a clear preference for electric drive systems. After Genie introduced E-Drive in 2020, we saw orders for hydraulic machines drop rapidly, which is why, as of 2023, we discontinued offering hydraulic drive systems. That’s because electric drive machines are more efficient and perform as well, if not better than, hydraulic drive systems. They also require less maintenance, which reduces the cost of total ownership and the time spent on maintenance.
ALH: What new applications, if any, are customers utilizing electric scissors in currently?
Crook: We have seen that the 1,235-pound weight of the Nano10-XD machine has allowed approval on the most restricted suspended flooring applications. This applies to both new construction and work in older buildings that previously only ladders or push-around machines could comply. The very lightweight machine provides a huge improvement in safety over ladders and multiples of productivity over push around machines in a highly efficient all-electric machine package.
Early: The development of low-level access is noteworthy. While the access industry has historically been focused on achieving increased platform and work height, low-level access applications demand several competing design requirements. For example, many require low GVW (under 2,000 pounds) while also providing the performance and productivity expected of a slab scissor lift, such as 500-pound capacity and two-person occupancy (indoor) and the ability to drive from one location to the next while the platform is raised. The industry’s response has been encapsulated in the so-called “micro scissor lift which provides a safe, stable platform from which work can be more productively performed – as opposed to carrying tools and materials while climbing a ladder.
More generally, Covid-19 brought with it a series of general industry supply chain challenges that has led to re-evaluation of North American supply networks. That in turn has led to increased
on-shoring and the building of non-residential facilities, which, in turn, feeds more demand for electric scissors.
ALH: What design or engineering changes/updates could users expect to see in the coming year? Why will these occur?
Crook: From MEC it is an expansion of the integrated patent pending Xtra Deck feature into more models. This enables a user to safely and instantly deploy a local one-person elevated deck providing an additional 20 inches of height, with 4-sided telescopic guardrails, that can fit through ceiling panel grids. There was a recognition of the frequency and risks of unsafe methods used presently that yearned for a better solution.
Early: From a Skyjack point of view, 2024 will see us expand our E-Drive offering and further develop our low-level access machines.
ALH: What size class for electric scissors is in highest demand right now? Why? Do you expect this to continue throughout 2024? Why/why not?
Crook: Presently the MEC Micro 19-XD is in high demand as this has become the de facto ideal machine for Data Centers. Compact dimensions, an integral Xtra Deck (XD), direct electric drive and AGM batteries provide extended duty cycles for multiple shifts and the safety features of LCS for oil leak mitigation and XD for the confined overhead situations provides everything Data Center installations need. There is a strong plan of Data Center construction throughout North America in 2024.
Early: Demand for DC scissors has seen healthy growth in 2023, fed by continued efforts of rental companies to reduce fleet age and continued non-residential growth spurred in part by onshoring of supply chains as part of COVID recovery.
The traditional 20-foot class continues to be a large seller, although the emergence of the so-called micro class has continued to the extent that it is now a firm and no longer a niche segment. Toward the end of 2023, there was some evidence of a return to more normal growth rates and we would see that modification continuing. Although, it has to be said that recent years have seen not only post-Covid records, but also absolute records in volume terms, so that modification will mean the market level remains high.
ALH: How do you see the market for electric scissor utilization in North America playing out in 2024?
Crook: The outlook appears buoyant, some segments steady, some segments strong.
Early: The recent and on-going efforts on reducing fleet ageing will continue to provide benefits and more profitable utilization in 2024.
ALH: If a rental company is considering purchasing electric scissors, what are three of your top tips for them to consider?
Crook: AGM batteries are the single most consistent predictor of a low TCO. Features that both differentiate and are valued by customers will earn a higher rental rate; from MEC the LCS (Leak Containment System U.S Patent 11,112,060) is very popular to eliminate the headache of diapers to mitigate oil leaks and Xtra Deck (patent pending) is also a popular feature solving the safe access to confined overhead areas.
Early: Chiefly, a rental company is only making money when a machine is working. Whatever the latest whiz-bang feature, reliability and up time are still key. Increasingly, the need for improved duty cycles and a more environmentally sustainable product joins reliability in the top three. The need for improved duty cycles has propelled the development of E-Drive that Skyjack now offers across its electric scissor and vertical mast range.
Finally, rental companies and major contractors face increasing demands for sustainability information. Skyjack has introduced its ECO mark to support our customers by providing products that deliver benefits in environmental performance and long-term sustainability.
Dube: Genie GS E-Drive Lithium-Ion scissor lifts can be recharged in just four hours, which is 33% faster than a standard FLA battery, and partial charges won’t damage the Lithium-Ion battery.
This allows operators to charge a lift during breaks or over lunch in the event the machine didn’t get charged the night before, or if it is being used for a second shift.
Genie’s Lithium-Ion battery solution is UL certified against fire, electric shock and explosion. And, with an expected battery life of at least 10 years and a five-year warranty, equipment owners can feel confident in the battery’s quality and longevity. Although this is the only battery a rental company will need while they own the machine, for additional peace of mind, owners can also use Genie LiftConnect telematics monitoring to track battery performance for a specific unit over time.
Additionally, because many rental companies look to give older equipment a second life on the used equipment market, Genie Lithium-Ion powered scissor lifts can be retrofitted with FLA batteries when the unit reaches the end of its useful life in a rental fleet. The Lithium-Ion battery option is available globally on nearly all GS E-Drive slab scissor lifts, with the exception of the GS-1432m and GS-1932m micro scissor lifts and the GS-4046 and GS-4655 slab scissor lifts.
Of special note: DaVinci deliveries
JLG’s all-electric DaVinci scissor lift model was recently brought on to Brazil-based Solutions Rental’s (SR) fleet.
As a specialist in the rental and sale of aerial platforms, SR is located in the city of Paulínia and serves customers across the entire São Paulo region.
It added the DaVinci AE1932 model, which is powered by a single 24V lithium-ion battery and has a maximum working height of 5.8m (9ft) as well as a basket capacity of 275kg, for its lack of
hydraulic components, which means there is no possibility of oil leakages.
Yuri Caldeira, commercial director at SR, said, “With the DaVinci, we are the first rental company in Brazil to provide a Scissor Lift with zero oil leakage, something up until recently [that was] unimaginable for segments such as hospitals, pharmaceutical plants, museums, data centers, the food industry, which require absolute care when it comes to cleanliness, hygiene and bringing the risk of contamination to a minimum.”
Late last year, JLG reported equipment sales of $1.32 billion for the three months ending Sept. 30, representing an increase of 27 percent over the same period last year. The increase comes in response to “growth in all major regions,” JLG said, including improvements in operational execution, the easing of supply chain issues, higher pricing in response to higher input costs and the inclusion of sales of $19.0 million related to the Hinowa acquisition.
Looking directly at product sectors, aerial equipment sales amounted were up 26.5% to $654.3 million compared to the same period last year, while telehandlers saw sales of $393.8 million, an increase of 24.6 percent.
JLG said it has a “robust outlook” supported by “strong demand drivers, including mega projects, infrastructure spending, industrial construction projects, new use cases and aged customer fleets,” and it expects its 2024 orders to be mostly booked by the end of 2023. As a result, the company has upped its full year guidance from $4.9 billion to $5.0 billion.