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Elevated work platforms: Making safety a high priority

Supplier: Dingli Australia By: Stephanie McDonald
29 September, 2011

Selecting the right elevated work platform can be one of the most important choices you ever make.

All too often stories about operators being injured, or worse, killed, are splashed across the pages of newspapers.

"With people being taken up to 40m, 25m or 20m you cannot afford to have any faulty components or badly constructed components in a machine, because if something happens to the machine, the operator may die," Ray Bengowski, director at Dingli Australia, said.

"It’s not like a forklift. A forklift could tip over and the guy could take his seatbelt off and walk away. This stuff can kill people, so you need to make sure it is 100 per cent spot on."

According to Bengowski, elevated work platforms commonly use the same type of major component, regardless of which company it comes from, such as lift motors, the diagnostics, controllers and computers are typically manufactured in Europe or America.

Dingli Australia’s elevated work platforms are manufactured in China, however, the major components of the machines aren’t necessarily Chinese-made as well.

"China, over the years, has gotten a reputation that’s been a little bit tarnished because of some bad product lines that have arrived here – not elevating work platforms, but other products, and people have learnt their lesson on that," Bengowski told IndustrySearch.

"They’ve perfected that now and they’re doing a great job…all the components are comparable with anybody else."

Due to Dingli Australia’s products being manufactured in China, the company has been able to reduce the price of its elevated work platforms.

"Just because our machines are cheap, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re badly manufactured. You need to look at all the product lines from everybody and do your comparison from there," Bengowski said.

Also, ensuring the machines are built correctly the first time allow the company to reduce costs.

"If you get it right the first time, you don’t need a lot of people [involved afterwards] – you just make sure the backup support is there after the sale," Bengowski said.

"That’s the next most important thing – ensuring that you can back up the machine after delivery."

Bengowski warns specifiers to look at the cost of spare parts for elevated work platforms, not just the cost of the machine. He said some companies charge staggering amounts for spare parts, something Dingli Australia has tried to change by bringing the price of spare parts down.

"Yes we still make a profit, it’s just that we don’t make the massive profit that these other suppliers have been doing for years and years now, which is good, because it’s making these guys look at their pricing and bring it back down to a reasonable figure," Bengowski said.

There are several steps specifiers can take to ensure they buy the best elevated work platform for them. Bengowski advises users to try the product out, either at the company’s showroom or factory or on their worksite.

"I strongly believe that and I’ve been doing this for 40 years now. Nothing beats bringing the machine out and letting the maintenance people, the operators and the prospective owners drive the equipment in their own backyard before they purchase anything," he said.

Bengowski also advises company’s not to buy just one supplier’s products. Instead, buy machines from several different suppliers.

"If I’m around here doing this in another 20 years time, I would strongly suggest a customer not just buy our equipment. You should never put all your eggs in one basket with this type of machinery because we keep each other honest," Bengowski said.