Reflecting on 40 years in Access

The summer marked a significant milestone for Planet Platforms, together with colleagues, customers, suppliers and friends we celebrated 40 years of access.

On reflection the business has experienced many changes that have shaped the organisation that thrives today. Always operating in the access industry Planet has evolved over time and more so in the last 10 years.

Founded in 1977 Planet Platforms was one of the pioneers promoting the use of hydraulic access platforms as a safer means of working at height. Cherrypickers, flying carpets and MEWPS were the names given to this form of access that nowadays are seen on virtually all large industrial sites. But even back then there had always been the need for specialist access systems.

There is always a job where there is no commercial off-the-shelf product to help perform safely a specific work at height task. In order to do so a bespoke access solution is needed, and it is here that Planet Platforms has developed its USP.

At first we used to use standard aluminium frames, boards and braces to make one-off access systems. The Concorde tail dock we designed and installed in 1994 is a perfect example.

However, this approach had its limitations and with request growing for more complex access structures we made the decision to invest in the future and develop our own in-house CAD team in 1999.

Seventeen years on we now have a library of nearly 7,000 individual projects with closer to 13,000 drawings when revisions are factored in. This catalogue and wealth of knowledge enables us to react quicker to costing requests as invariably we will have a design that meets a new requirement.

Shaping much of what the business has become has been the changes in regulatory legislation. Back in 1998 the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) ensured employers as a minimum provided worker with equipment suitable for its intended use.The type of access equipment manufactured by Planet Platforms came under these regulations but in 2005 a more significant piece of legislation came into being that still steers what we do today.

The Work at Height Regulations (WAHR) aim is to reduce death and serious injury whilst working at height, as it is one most common accidents in the workplace. It has helped disband some myths, such as you can’t work from ladder or steps, and gives stakeholders and those who control work at height much needed clarity about their roles and responsibilities. The statistics are lowering year on year but remain alarmingly high.

It is no coincidence that Planet Platforms has seen the demand for our manufactured products increase since the introduction of these regulations in 2005. Many of the industries that we serve have long had an adopted strategy for safe working at height. Rail and aerospace account for much of what we do but the number of “one-offs” continue to surprise us.

With manufactured product now being used overseas the reach of Planet Platforms has certainly increased over the 40 years. From very modest beginnings in 1977 we have come a long way for a Yorkshire Business.