Diesels in demand
17 December 2021
Christmas might not be far away but hirers remain busy and as always need to keep pace with customer demands.
An interesting conversation that I had recently with James Mulrooney, sales director with Alide Hire Services, illustrates the point well and also shows that, while interest is growing in equipment powered by alternative fuels sources, demand for conventional machines will remain for some time yet.
“Groundworkers are really busy and that’s a really good sign because they are the first contractors on a new site, with more equipment being needed later on," he said.
“DIY customers and small tradesmen are also very active and we are broadening our operations to serve more contractors in sectors like air conditioning, M&E (mechanical and engineering) works, roofing specialists and fit-out businesses.”
As a result, Alide has been investing steadily in new kit such as powered access machinery. And interestingly, a fair proportion of these new orders have been for fuel-efficient diesel machines.
“We already have a large fleet of battery powered models but more customers are asking for diesel scissors and diesel booms,” said James.
“These are the sort of machines that many contractors involved in roofing, M&E, painting and decorating and other work on large buildings ask for. They still prefer diesel or hybrid units because of issues like on-site charging.
“So we want to offer our customers all the options while recognising that electric and, perhaps, hydrogen machines will eventually be the future.”
While many manufacturers report a growing proportion of battery powered machine sales, equipment with low-emission diesel engines or running on eco-friendly fuels like HVO (hydro-treated vegetable oil) will remain in use for some time yet.
Indeed, many machines in hire fleets are still young in years and owners will need to achieve a decent return on them before they can swap them under their planned replacement programmes.
And, as with electric cars, if every owner wanted to replace their fossil-fuel products tomorrow, manufacturers would not be able to cope – and neither would the charging infrastructure.
So there are many variables that need to be weighed up and this shows that careful decision making and sound management is often required in adopting new technology.
● For more of the latest Site-Eco stories click here.