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U.K. Energy crisis 2021 – A black swan for the low emission access hire industry

Posted November 5, 2021

Casting our gaze back to pre-pandemic days, the MEWP (mobile elevating work platform) service industry was adapting to a variety of contingencies, mainly conforming to tightening environmental policies and legislative changes prompted by Brexit. 

Gas powered machines that had long enjoyed a strong market penetration, providing an industry standard solution for indoor work and low emission zones, were being gradually phased out and replaced by increasingly popular electric machines. 

The pandemic would usher in a rapid succession of changes in consumer behaviour that would strike the industry at its core: the sudden spike in home shopping would change the face of the high street and create an urgent demand for large scale warehouses and distribution centres. The game changed: national demand peaked for super-sized MEWPs suitable for indoor and outdoor work. With only a few companies in the country stocking these machines, a shortage ensued. 

Skip forward to September 2021. The accelerating economic recovery of a post-pandemic Britain is met by an unforeseen eventuality: a natural gas shortage affecting the European wholesale market, pushing up energy prices to unprecedented levels. 

For plant and access hire companies that were already racing to meet the rapidly shifting demands placed on the industry, it’s another curb ball. Aside from the evident increase in energy costs, the gas shortage may well mark the end of the gas powered MEWP. 

Gas powered MEWPs have been a popular alternative to diesel machines for indoor work as their low emissions make them safe for this purpose. However, gas powered MEWPs have been slowly losing traction for a number of reasons: one reason being the impracticality of obtaining fuel. Many gas suppliers require a client to provide a minimum of three empty gas canisters to provide full ones in return, employing a ‘drop 3 bottles, pick up 3 empties – otherwise no drop’ policy. 

For companies whose gas powered machines are out on hire to a variety of sites, this adds an unnecessary layer of complexity. Add to this the spiralling cost of gas and these machines make for an impractical and expensive option. 

For a long time Genie’s GS5390 LPG 16m scissor lift (with a working height of 18m, a standard width deck and a 680kg safe working load) was one of the most demanded machines in the industry due to its versatility, but Genie’s decision to discontinue this model has left the industry desperate for an electric alternative; and the problem is compounded by the retirement and withdrawal of other gas powered machines from suppliers’ fleets. 

Addressing the issue of replacing gas machines with efficient electric alternatives was already a concern for Mainline prior to the upheaval of the pandemic. Finding a viable alternative to the Genie GS5390 LPG was a high priority and its discontinuation prompted us to turn our attention to the Dingli JCPT1823DC: the electric contender to LPG scissor lifts.

Mainline Hire
Mainline Hire

The Dingli JCPT1823DC is an all-electric machine with the same size and weight capacities of gas contenders such as the GS5390 LPG. The Dingli 1823DC offers a series of benefits, such as driving at a height of 12m (whereas most of its direct contenders must come down to 8m). This translates to less battery power being used in each duty cycle. 

The JCPT 1823DC has a 16.5m platform height and a working height of 18m. It has a 680kg safe working load, a 4.88m platform length and a generous platform width of 2.29m -truly setting it apart from the only other available electric scissor lifts in its category, which offer a reduced 1.2m width. 

The Dingli 1823DC’s unquestionable popularity is mainly due to its versatility. Incorporating 4WD and equipped with non-marking tyres, the 1823DC proves a great choice for challenging outdoor sites and for working indoors on delicate floors. 

Of course, one of the main benefits of this machine is its power source. Electric machines already offered the practicality of being rechargeable on-site, but recent improvements in battery duration technology mean that these machines are currently delivering surprising productivity. 

Until now, the main concern with electric machines has been whether one overnight charge will last a full 7 hour day. On the ground tests confirm that, for normal operations they are a superb, efficient and cost effective solution. 

As regards fuel efficiency, LPG machines use (on average) one bottle of gas per day for normal operations. For machines on long term hire or lease, current price hikes make it difficult to calculate the running cost of each machine. 

That aside, LPGs require extra provisions, such as a storage space for gas bottles on-site. Clients also run the risk of idle machines, should a gas delivery be late. 

Although it has long been understood that the era of gas powered machines was coming to an end, it has taken a combination of factors for the industry to be able to make the switch to electric: The improved duration of batteries thanks to modern battery technology, the advent of on-site electrical installations being made commonplace to power machinery and a black swan in the guise of the current gas shortage. With these factors now in place, the way is paved for the electric revolution. 

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If you’d like more information on mobile access solutions, please contact Mainline’s sales advisors. Our project managers and sales team are working around the clock to provide our clients with reliable and efficient solutions adapted to the changing market, so please get in touch to discuss the best machines for your project.


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