IPAF - the International Powered Access Federation - has signed an agreement with Trackunit to develop and deliver a new operator’s app called ePAL, which will be free to use and will feature a digital IPAF PAL card, logbook, and operator safety guides.
The plan is to launch two versions of the app – one for aerial work platforms and the other for Mastclimbers - in April next year. It will initially be offered in English with other key languages in which IPAF operates to follow. It will be available for Apple iOS and Android devices and will be continually updated with additional features added as usage demands and technology allows.
IPAF chief executive Peter Douglas said: “Developing this app is a key priority for IPAF and we are excited to team up with Trackunit to bring its considerable technical expertise to bear on rolling this out in 2021, delivering a digital solution to connect IPAF and the operator for the first time. IPAF’s ePAL will bring benefits for operators and IPAF training centres alike, will allow users to store their digital PAL card and logbook and to help communicate important safety and technical messages direct to the operator.”
“The goal is to streamline and digitise our processes, including issuing and renewing IPAF PAL cards and helping operators keep track of their machine operating experience via the digital logbook function.”
"IPAF and Trackunit have a shared aim to be at the forefront in driving change for our industry and will ensure IPAF members are fully consulted and are as involved as much as possible, in shaping the future of these technological advancements including the new IPAF ePAL app and its roll out next year. These are exciting times.”
Trackunit chief executive Søren Brogaard added: “We are delighted to be working with IPAF on this exciting new digital innovation, it will be a real game changer for the industry, allowing operators to store and share their training accreditation, log equipment usage, gain access to machines and geo-fenced work sites safely and securely, and to obtain important safety and technical information at their fingertips. I am sure the app will be very popular with users and mangers and take up will be strong.”
This development is potentially a great deal more than just another app that delivers significantly less than it promises. The partnership between the two companies should ensure a really effective end product that people will use and ultimately benefit from. If it is half as good as we would expect from these two, it could – over the years – revolutionise the operator certification process, especially if it eventually ties in with the card reading security devices fitted to an increasing number of machines and improved telematics.
While seeming a little ‘Big Brotherish’ it could automatically gather operating hours and data such as machine type and usage patterns, which could go a long way towards more informed operator upgrades and recertification, perhaps also logging inappropriate operation and abuse such as overloading?
A good deal will depend on the reaction and input from members - particularly training members - as this app is developed. The wide uptake, official recognition and international success of IPAF has largely been down to the development, adoption and ongoing development of a programme before any government or other authority, decided that something had to be done and took it on itself to do so. Staying ahead of the curve will not only keep the entire IPAF training and certification programme relevant but spread its uptake still further.