The most common comment or question heard in the vertical access industry is how mast climbers and scaffolding compare.
Perhaps what they should be asking is, "what is the advantage of a mast climber?"
After all, both provide vertical access for trades working in construction and are suited to jobs ranging from brickwork, recladding, maintenance, and everything in between.
Although the ideal project would use both mast climbers for vertical access and scaffolding for public protection, there are some key differences and things that, when broken down, help highlight where and when you should use them.
We’re highlighting those key differences, and discussing where and when mast climbers or scaffolding should be used.
Mast Climbers & Scaffolding: Time & Money
Time is money. When it comes to counting pounds and pennies and making your project come in on budget, there can be huge differences between mast climbers and scaffolding.
The higher your project is, the higher your savings will be too. Consider the amount of time and money required to build scaffolding up to 12 storeys and above.
Instead, if you use a mast climber, you can get it erected in a fraction of the time, saving over 60% of the cost compared with traditional boards, fittings, and tubes.
How Mast Climbers & Scaffolding React To The Needs Of Different Trades
When it comes to scaffolding, it’s very rare that the price you’re given at the start of the project is what the total actually is. As projects evolve and progress, you’re having to react to the requirements of different trades, expanding and bolting on additional scaffolding adaptations.
Window installers might need height adjustments, bricklayers might need the boards to be reinforced, changes have to be made all across the construction project and they all add up. These are rarely quoted at the initial stage and mean you can be in for a surprise when it comes to payment.
With a mast climber, all the information and requirements are established upfront, meaning that the price is the price. Designed to work for all trades, the single platform doesn’t need to be adapted in order to complete work either.
While minor adjustments and modules might be required to achieve greater efficiencies, these are included as options in the quote of your MCWP, so you won’t have any surprises when it comes to payment.
Health & Safety Benefits of Mast Climbers Over Scaffolding
Over 52,000 construction workers are affected each year by a litany of health problems such as musculoskeletal injuries. These are caused by workers having to complete tasks in awkward positions that, over time, have a significant impact on the body.
Sound familiar? These are common occurrences when working on scaffolding as workers are restricted and have to work on the limited space provided. This is made worse when you consider the heavy equipment that has to be negotiated around scaffolding to get it where it needs to be.
All of this is reduced when considering a mast climber and they are associated with far fewer safety incidents when compared with scaffolding.
Working at awkward heights is removed entirely with a mast climber because you can drive the platform up to specifically where you need it. This means trades won’t be having to bend over or stretch above their heads and put their bodies at risk.
The movement of materials is also much easier with a mast climber. You can simply load the work platform at the start of the day, drive it to the required height and get started. With scaffolding, there are many more trips to loading bays, and journeys back and forth, bringing us to the final point. Logistics.
A tight site and limited access can dramatically slow down your project efficiency, particularly when you are using scaffolding.
The higher your project, the more deliveries you’ll need, and the more deliveries you’ll need, the longer it’ll take. What’s more, negotiating large scaffolding poles around a tight space can be a huge health and safety concern.
With a mast climber, vertical access can be delivered and erected much quicker, even on the tightest of sites. What would be 4 or 5 deliveries of individual components, can be a single delivery of a mast climber, helping the project get started much quicker.
Because an MCWP is delivered in modules as opposed to individual components, it’s far easier to erect and dismantle, saving you efficiencies across the entire project.
Mast Climber Or Scaffolding?
It’s clear that there are differences between the two; significant ones that can make a difference to you and your projects.
There are also other differences that have a wider impact on the surrounding environment like aesthetics and risk of theft and damage that we haven’t touched on.
Despite this, it’s important to reinforce that the ideal solution is a combination of both scaffolding and mast climber; it’s not really a binary choice.
So before categorically deciding on one or the other, speak to mast climbing and vertical access experts.