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Record order shakes up the access sector

PLANT - The Platform Company becomes number two in the UK with £30m Genie deal

POWERED access hirer The Platform Company has struck a £30 million deal with manufacturer Genie, as it expands to meet soaring demand in construction.

The order, for in excess of 1,000 machines, is the biggest Genie has signed in the UK and includes platforms from small personnel lifts up to 135 ft articulated booms.

TPC managing director Lee Perry said: 'This is not replacement stock, these are all to meet expansion, which is driven by both the activity in the construction market and by the work at height regulat ions.

'We have grown significantly since our management buy out in 2002, and we don't see any let-ups in demand. We are seeing new customers who would previously have used aluminium towers or ladders, as well as current customers who are taking on a lot more machines.

We looked to see whether there was any one type of machine we needed more of and we realised it really was uniform demand across the range.' The deal propels TPC into a clear number two in the platform hire market, behind long-term market leader Nationwide, and comes alongside a branch expansion which will see it opening two depots in Leicester and Glasgow in the next two months.

Mr Perry said: 'We have grown significantly to be the biggest independent hirer and our expansion is to meet customer demand, but we are not interested in 'taking anyone on'. We have plans both for more branches and to expand our existing ones.' Genie divisional manager John Fuller said that the order, which will be phased in over the next two years, was the biggest in the 22 years Genie had been in business in Britain.

A degree of forward planning has been necessary because demand is at such a peak for the biggest machines that the lead times are around nine months.

The fleet that The Platform Company is taking on comprises a wide range of selfpropelled machines, split roughly 60:40 between scissors and booms and 50:50 between electric and diesel machines.

The diesel machines have been specified with on-board generators to allow operatives to use tools without trailing leads, while all rough-terrain machines have been fitted with foam-fill tyres to avoid punctures. In a further safety move, all scissors operating on rough terrain have been fitted with outriggers, to cut the risk of toppling.

Mr Perry said that safety considerations were another driver of expansion for hirers. He said: 'The difference between now and only two or three years ago is that contractors can now afford to put health and safety in their budgets.'