Finding its platform - Interview with Ashfaq Hussain, general manager, Quality Equipment Rental
S Neogy, January 28, 2022
UAE-based equipment rental major is betting on the country’s appetite for spider lifts and has expanded its offerings with a tie-up with Italian spider lift manufacturer Platform Basket, inducting the machines in its rental fleet and also acting as a dealer for the Italian brand, says Ashfaq Hussain, GM at QER
WOCME: Please describe QER as an organization and your recent market performance.
Ashfaq Hussain: Quality Equipment Rental (QER) is a very diverse rental business with various categories of products in our portfolio. Our fleet consists of a wide range of equipment from diesel generators, light towers and air compressors to telescopic handlers, backhoe loaders, dozers and excavators, as well as access machines and forklifts, along with road construction equipment such as rollers.
In 2021, our earthmoving and spider lifts segments did quite well in the market owing to the many earthmoving projects that were ongoing in the UAE, as well as because of our partnership with Italian manufacturer Platform Basket.
WOCME: How has Covid-19 impacted QER and what have you done to meet the challenges?
AH: The pandemic has impacted our business significantly, just like it has impacted the entire construction and equipment sectors. At QER we took urgent steps to reduce the impact as much as possible through timely vaccinations, placement of resources closer to our customers and enhancing our supply chain to reduce the impact on our business.
In fact, we increased our outreach to customers during Covid to make sure they received timely spares, service and support so that they could keep their projects going through the pandemic. Our onsite teams have been proactive all through the pandemic in providing support to our customers and reaching out to them as much as possible. Due to the constraints of the pandemic, many tasks and operations, such as maintenance and inspections, needed careful and extra planning well in advance to execute. It was not like the pre-pandemic normal when you could just schedule these tasks with the minimum of fuss. So our teams were careful to be more involved with customers during the peak of the pandemic to ensure they got the same level of support and service from us – and indeed more if the constrained situation demanded it.
Most of our customers are based in the UAE’s Western region and we’re happy with how we’ve dealt with the challenges at this time. We’ve received very good feedback from them regarding our performance and on-time support - and we’re looking forward to continuing our performance as we grow our portfolio in 2022.
WOCME: Do you plan on adding any other products to your portfolio in 2022? What are your plans for this year and the future?
AH: The ongoing big news at QER is our association with Platform Basket - the Italian specialist manufacturer of aerial work platforms – for their spider lifts. We’ve partnered with them for the UAE market and are actively working with them to bring in most sizes of Platform Basket spider lifts to the UAE market for both rental and sales requirements of our valued clients. At the moment we have 10 models of Platform Basket spider lifts of varying heights and outreach in our portfolio. Platform Basket have 13 different models in their range and our main focus right now is to add another one of the models to our line-up – the Spider 39T. Our priority for 2022 and beyond is to grow this segment or our offerings.
WOCME: Could you give more details on QER’s partnership with Platform Basket and the popular models from the Italian manufacturer that you have brought to this market?
AH: Platform Basket is of course a well-known manufacturer, which has established a global reach from its base in Italy. QER partnered with them in 2018 and since then we’ve inducted their machines into our rental fleet as well as sold and serviced Platform Basket spider lifts in the UAE.
The most popular Platform Basket model in our portfolio is the Spider 27.14, which is a spider lift with a 27-metre working height. It has a total weight of only 5-tonnes and offers an outreach of 14.4m. The basket has a weight capacity of 230kg, which is more than enough for two workers and their gear.
It is the most compact 27m tracked-lift with only 890mm of width, with a hydraulic operated undercarriage that enables the machine to pass through a single door as narrow as 35-inches in width. All features meet the continuous demands of the market that wants access platforms as compact and light as possible, but with very high performances. Our spider lifts and other machines are currently deployed on UAE projects like SeaWorld, The Royal Atlantis and Media Zone to name a few.
WOCME: What are some of the future activities that we can expect from the QER-Platform Basket partnership in this market?
AH: Platform Basket introduced the Spider 39T at the recently held GIS 2021 exhibition in Italy and this will soon be available in our fleet at QER. As well as featuring a telescopic boom the Spider 39T is equipped with extendable crawler tracks and is powered by a 37kw diesel engine. It is based on the design of the company’s larger Spider 43T machine, which we also stock, and is fitted with rubber tracks and stabilisers. We are very much looking forward to rolling out this model here in the Middle East in the first few months of 2022.
WOCME: What are some of the trends you have spotted in the rental segment and in the reginal equipment sector in general?
AH: We view the UAE’s equipment rental industry as very dynamic and believe it has potential for even further growth given the many development projects that are being planned and executed in the country.
At QER we also serve the oil & gas sector with the equipment that they need and we have also successfully managed HVAC projects for reputed clients. With the oil price maintaining a high level and expected to go up higher still, our projection is that the oil & gas sector is going to be very busy in the coming years. We think there will be strong demand for rental equipment across the board, particularly in power generation, air systems and lifting equipment.