Whether you’re a project manager, brickwork contractor, or developer, if you're considering the adoption of mast climbers for a project and seeking more insights into this scaffolding alternative, you've come to the right place.
Here are 7 commonly asked questions, providing valuable insights and real-world examples to facilitate your decision-making process in any future construction projects.
1. What is a mast climber, and how is it different from traditional scaffolding for bricklaying and cladding projects?
A mast climber, or a mast climbing work platform (MCWP), is a versatile vertical access method that has gained significant popularity in the construction industry. Unlike traditional scaffolding, which requires manual assembly and constant adaptations, mast climbers provide stable platforms that efficiently transport workers and construction materials to the right working height and position. They offer a far more efficient method of vertical access with improved safety and reduced physical strain when compared to traditional scaffolding.
In particular, for high-rise constructions, mast climbers enable concurrent work at various elevations without the need to wait for scaffold assembly, allowing brickworkers to commence their tasks without delay. As a result, project timelines are significantly shortened, saving time and associated costs including labour expenses.
2. Are mast climbers suitable for bricklaying and cladding tasks?
Absolutely, mast climbers are suited to 85% of construction projects, including brickwork projects. They bring several significant advantages to the table. One of the primary benefits is improved safety for brickworkers. The physically demanding nature of bricklaying often leads to musculoskeletal disorders, but mast climbers eliminate this risk by providing great height adjustability, allowing workers to operate in a comfortable position. Mast climbers also simplify the loading and unloading of materials like heavy brick and mortars, making logistics more efficient in brickwork construction.
Whilst traditional scaffolding has been the norm for vertical access in construction, many bricklayers have found mast climbers to be a superior option due to their versatility and time-saving benefits. See what this bricklaying expert actually feels about mast climbers in brickwork projects from this interview.
More importantly, mast climbers can be integrated with scaffolding and hoists for a comprehensive vertical access solution tailored to your project's needs. Rather than an either/or choice between scaffolding and mast climbers, it's about utilising the best tool for the job. Consulting with a vertical access expert can help you develop a customised access solution that optimises efficiency and safety for your construction project.
3. What types of bricklaying and cladding projects are best suited for mast climbers?
Mast climbers can be perfectly integrated into a wide range of construction projects, including those featuring high-rise structures, complex geometries, buildings with balconies or curved facades, as well as projects situated on inclines. They excel in brickwork applications and have proven effective in compact, space-constrained areas. On top of that, mast climbers are well-suited for both brick cladding and bricklaying projects, including specialised applications like mechanical brick cladding.
4. Do mast climbers require special training or certification for operators and workers?
Yes, operating a Mast Climbing Work Platform (MCWP) requires a minimum of two individuals on each platform, and one of them to be a trained operator possessing an IPAF license.
All trained operators working from an MCWP should as a minimum be familiarised with a demonstrator, to enable emergency lowering and rescue. Only operators familiarised with specific aspects of the MCWP should be allowed to operate it.
The employer should ensure that all operators using the equipment are trained to operate the MCWP, with full knowledge of the controls of the equipment, safety systems and emergency procedures, risk assessment guidance and they are able to carry out pre-use/daily inspections and perform the emergency descent. BFT Mastclimbing have their own IPAF training centre and are the largest provider of IPAF training in the country.
5. What is the typical load capacity of mast climbers, and how does it affect project planning and execution?
Mast climbers in BFT come in varying load capacities to suit different project requirements, including:
BFT90 mini-climber – Designed for low-level work like flat refurbishments, window replacements, fascia renovation, and soffits, it’s ideal for projects up to 90 meters high.
BFT120 mast climber – The most versatile option, operating at up to 120 meters and supporting loads of up to 3,500kg. Configurable as a single-mast or twin-mast, it offers a flexible workspace area.
BFT130 mast climber – Combining versatility with heavy-duty performance, it reaches heights of 250 meters in both single and twin mast configurations, meeting demanding requirements.
BFT150 mast climber – Designed for the most demanding projects, it operates at heights of up to 250 meters and can lift up to 5,000kg in a twin-mast configuration. Its large working span, deck area, and telescopic extensions enhance its capabilities.
Bespoke mast climbing solutions – BFT also provides bespoke mast climbing solutions, including deck extensions, double-stacked machines, monorails, roof canopy systems etc., tailored to the specific needs of each project.
Initiate early engagement with our team of access solution experts during the planning stage to streamline your project planning and execution. Not only would that save time but also keep your costs minimum from the very beginning of the program.
6. What maintenance and inspection procedures are necessary to keep mast climbers in safe working condition?
To maintain mast climbers in safe working conditions, a trustworthy provider conducts regular maintenance and inspections. Trained professionals would carry out thorough examinations, inspections, tests, and checks to ensure safety and detect unnoticed damages.
All BFT mast climbers are equipped with an electronic monitoring device that halts operation and sounds an alarm if a malfunction is detected within a 50cm travel distance. The operators must return to base level and a BFT qualified Engineer is required to inspect and reset the mast climber. This is a feature unique to BFT and has been extensively tested in our dedicated workshop and by our supply chain partners.
Each MCWP from BFT undergoes servicing and inspection after each hire and before dispatch to the site. They are accessed, examined, and maintained by trained professionals routinely and independently with reference to national regulations and the manufacturer’s manual to ensure the full safety and reliability of the equipment.
7. What is the estimated cost difference between using mast climbers and traditional scaffolding?
The estimated cost difference between utilising mast climbers and traditional scaffolding depends largely on your project's size and unique requirements. However, it's important to note that upfront, mast climbers typically present a lower initial cost compared to scaffolding. When you factor in the substantial time saved and reduced labour expenses, the cost advantage of mast climbers becomes even more apparent.
Looking for a real-world example? This case study featuring a UK developer demonstrated how they could have potentially saved a substantial £1.3 million simply by choosing mast climbers over scaffolding for their project.
Start Saving Time and Costs On Your Site With Mast Climbers Today
The remarkable benefits in safety, productivity, and cost-effectiveness have made mast climbers a valuable investment to optimise your brickwork projects. With over 1,600 machines in our rapidly expanding fleet, BFT holds the UK's largest mast climber collection.
All BFT mast climbers comply with Work at Height, Manual Handling, and Health & Safety regulations, ready to deploy from two national distribution centres in Bedfordshire and Manchester.
Don't settle for less when better options are available. Speak with an MCWP expert today and discover how mast climbers can help with your next project.