This is NOT Scaffolding: A Platform for the 21st Century
We all appreciate that one of the most expensive overheads in a business walks on two legs and arrives every day at 9am and leaves at 5pm. So, when a product comes along that suggests it can reduce labour costs and provide a more ﬂexible and safe way of working; it might just be worth investigating.
Scaffolding is not normally a subject one would get excited about; however, analysis of the data suggests this product requires deeper scrutiny. I would have my knuckles wrapped by the manufacturer if I did not dispel the image conjured up by the word scaffolding. There are signiﬁcant differences between scaffolding and the Lobo Work Platform System, the subject of this article. Unusually, the differences are both technical and commercial, hence the excitement.
Firstly, it is highly unlikely you’ll see this product on a building site, so dismiss from your mind, the concept of traditional scaffolding, with its heavy tubes and planks of timber. Think more of an industrial version of Meccano or an Erector set that can be assembled, without the need for any tools and is used by companies to gain safe working at height access when performing both routine and unscheduled maintenance and production tasks.
Enough about the product; let us look at the cost beneﬁts, that LOBO claim, could save your company thousands of pounds. The manufacturer of the system has supplied me with countless examples of companies who use it in preference to expensive and inﬂexible scaffolding contractors. It needs to be said upfront that the system is not the answer to every access requirement but for any internal, facilities, plant or machinery applications it a strong contender.
We all accept that the way data is presented can have different interpretations but looking closely at the ﬁgures they do appear to stack up. There are well-documented case studies that clearly show the cost-saving advantages, revealing impressive results with only a minimal investment. The customers studied are not all from the same sector and range from double-glazing installers to large manufacturing multinationals. Whilst they come from a diverse industrial base, they all appear to have similar cost issues.
LOBO sights Tesla, Amazon, NASA, Boeing, Airbus, EDF Energy, Miller Brewing, Anheuser Busch and Sainsburys as only some of their best-known customers. The actual use may differ, due to the versatile nature of the product, but the cost-saving beneﬁt applies to all. All these companies and many more besides, must employ external scaffolding contractors. They must comply with the working at height regulations, sometimes for reasonably simple maintenance tasks.
This can be expensive, as it is time-consuming (in labour costs) to erect and the scaffolding must stay up for an agreed minimum rental time, which can be a week or longer, with overrun penalties. LOBO points out that their system can be assembled by anyone (once trained), quickly and easily and then packed away immediately, when not in use.
The additional beneﬁt of having your own system is that it is available seven days a week and can be deployed whenever you want it, more quickly than traditional scaffolding. The knock-on effect could mean greater production uptime, with the obvious cost-saving implications.
The case studies I looked at revealed a payback time of between one and nine months, with capital spend of between 10% and 40% of the existing scaffolding budget. This cost only applies in the ﬁrst year as, once you have made the investment, it is “free” to use whenever and wherever from then onwards.
REAL–LIFE COST SAVINGS
National Double-Glazing Company (12 depots)
Annual spend on scaffolding services £624,000
Total purchase price of a LOBO system £ 65,000
The annual ongoing cost of the system £ 12,000
Annual Cost Saving £547,000
Annual spend on scaffolding services £35,000
Total purchase price of a system £12,000
The annual ongoing cost of the system £ 1,000
Annual Cost Saving £22,000
Annual spend on scaffolding services (1 site) £98,000
Total purchase price of a system £15,000
The annual ongoing cost of the system £ 1,000
Annual Cost Saving £82,000
Annual spend on scaffolding services (1 site) £3,600,000
Total purchase price of a system – over 5 years £ 318,000
The annual ongoing cost of the system – over 5 years £ 5,000
Total 5 Year Cost Saving £3,528,000
There are ongoing, annual operational costs. Training is recommended and replacements, spares, and additional components have to be factored in, but looking at the big picture these ﬁgures make impressive reading – cost savings alone could decide the issue: LOBO claim they might be able to cut your scaffolding costs in half or even reduce it down to zero.
Big budget holders, for example, oil and chemical companies, spend millions each year and may feel resigned to paying these huge sums year after year. Now perhaps there is an alternative, where the cost beneﬁt analysis adds up, safety is not compromised and your reliance on scaffolding contractors can be reduced into the bargain!
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