Can the Asian rental market for MEWPs flourish?

In a report released earlier in this year, the size of the global mobile elevating work platforms (MEWP) rental fleet has reached 1.17 million units. This figure represents a worldwide growth of 4% compared to the previous year. The data comes from the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), which promotes the safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide.

Powered access equipment, or mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), includes the full range of powered access equipment (all sizes and types) except mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs). Included are boom lifts, scissors lifts, and vertical masts. The category excludes low-level access equipment (<10ft / 3m high), telescopic material handlers, forklifts, cranes, mast climbers and equipment owned by non-rental companies.

The US and European rental markets are still enjoying steady growth, despite its relative market maturity. In comparison, the Asia Pacific region is a very young market, with great potential for market growth.


China’s MEWP rental fleet has been experiencing rapid growth over the years, maintaining a 20% to 35% growth from 2013 to 2015. MEWP awareness continues to grow at a fast pace. In 2015, China’s MEWP rental fleet stands at approximately 12,200 units.

It is worth noting that IPAF’s Chinese data exclude local unidentified Chinese brands which, according to IPAF, are “negligible as of today”. IPAF also acknowledges that most of the MEWP equipment used in China is locally manufactured. This suggests that China’s MEWP rental fleet growth is likely to be under-reported, and the actual numbers may far surpass official figures.

The power dynamics between regional manufacturers is also slowly shifting to be more Asia-centric. At Bauma China 2016, Chinese brands were significantly more aggressive in their marketing than in previous years, whereas non-Asian brands took a more muted position. While Chinese products have, in the past, been known only for its competitive pricing, its quality is rapidly catching up to international standards.

Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines continue to see solid growth. The MEWP rental fleet in Asia will continue to increase in order to meet this demand.

However, MEWP rental markets differ drastically across Asia Pacific. Some Asian countries may bear very different mentalities towards renting versus owning machinery. For example, Chinese and Indian organisations traditionally believe in the intangible value of owning their own machinery, even if rental provides more value in the long run.

A articulating boom lift deployed in Holland V. Such platforms can be dropped off on-site and immediately deployed, bypassing obstacles such as the lorry.

Key Challenges

Customers will expect MEWP rental companies to stock a wide range of high-quality machines, and expect to enjoy savings in the long-run from renting machines rather than owning them. However, there are still many obstacles that MEWP rental companies must navigate in order to attract more customers.

In many Asian countries (such as China and Hong Kong), bamboo scaffoldings are still being utilised for construction purposes, which can be both time-consuming and a safety hazard. MEWPs are designed to replace such a technique. If contractors can be convinced that MEWPs are the cheaper, safer, and more efficient alternative to such traditional methods, they are likely to include MEWPs in the construction process.

Another possible factor is the level of trust between MEWP rental companies and their customers. Rental brings with it an uncertainty that many contractors face: “What happens if the machine stops working? Will they fail to deliver the machine at the expense of my construction project?”

It falls upon these companies to not only assure contractors of these concerns, but also to offer 24/7 support throughout the entire process in order to gain the contractors’ trust.

Through this process, customers will likewise be more confident in machine rental, and the MEWP rental market will have a legitimate opportunity in maintaining a solid foothold in Asia.

Is there a strong rental culture in the Asian construction scene? Do you believe in owning or renting machines? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The IPAF is a non-profit member organisation that promotes the safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide. For more information, visit: