The 13th annual trade show of the Arboricultural Association, which takes place next month, looks set to be better then ever with a fresh location at its venue, updated facilities and some new exhibitors to attract visitors from across the trade.
As always the ARB Show - on Friday and Saturday 10-11 June - is being held on the huge Bathurst Estate near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. However this year, it has been moved to a different part of the site, around 5km from the main road. The new area has some stunning views - it is the meeting place for several tracks across the estate - and there are a wide range of trees for visitors and exhibitors to get to grips with.
For the first time on-site camping will be on offer so visitors can stay overnight on Friday and experience the show in a more leisurely way, says the association's technical officer Simon Richmond, who is in charge of organising the show. "People have been asking for camping facilities for some time. This is the first year we've been able to offer this," he explains.
The campsite will have showers and toilets and catering facilities will be available both at night and in the morning for breakfast. There will also be a bar. "This should make the show even better as a social event. We're hoping that this side of the show will develop over the next few years," declares Richmond.
As always, there will be a wide range of trade stands, where arborists can try out equipment and negotiate deals. Association director Nick Eden feels that the show has an important role for the industry. "It's always a great place to buy stuff. All the company representatives and sales- men are in one place which makes it a handy way of doing business. It's a real shoppers' show," he says.
New products and services
This year the exhibits reflect the growing professionalism of the industry as firms make an increasing investment in top-quality equipment. Mercedes Benz Unimog - a newcomer to the show - will be exhibiting one of the firm's top-of-the-range four-wheel drive trucks.
Some high-end tractors and mobile platforms will also be on display. Sup Elefant, the Italian truck and spider lift manufacturer, which has been making inroads on the UK market, will be at the show for the first time, offering a range of elevated working platforms - both tracked and wheeled.
Access Industries and Promax Access, which produce everything from small truck-mounted platforms to the giant hydraulic lifts for the most specialised contractors, will be promoting their tracked and truck-mounted machines. Ranger Equipment will be displaying tracked access platforms for small to medium sized applications. Promax Access sales manager Eynon Shawe says: "Not only is it safer to use platforms, but a lot of contractors are finding that they can do the work more quickly." He says Promax will be displaying small tracked access machines and hopes to bring some larger vehicles.
Exhibitors are also keen to promote equip- ment to deal with felled logs. Wood-Mizer UK has a range of mobile and static sawmills, which can turn small logs into potentially valuable planks, rails and posts, while Saws (UK) is bringing mobile sawmills. Logosol is also offering its professional bandsaw and top-quality saw mills. Logosol in particular stresses the light weight of its mills, which weigh as little as 52kg and can be carried on a car roof rack.
For the first time, Oxdale Products will be attending the show, promoting its range of log-splitters. Oxdale has been in business for three years and 95 per cent of the firm's products are made in Britain. Director Chris Butcher says: 'We have heard a lot of good things about the show, so we were keen to have a presence. A lot of people are starting to use logs, because of the high price of fuel. The use of wood-burning stoves has increased dramatically. Arborists are being to realise that logs are a valuable resource that they can take advantage of.'
Reflecting the interest in wood products, Stobart Biomass is taking a stand at the show. The company is part of the Eddie Stobart transport group and is looking to increase sales - and sources - of wood waste. OBM Tec will be offering chippers and shredders.
Stihl, the major sponsor of the show, will be unveiling its new top handled chainsaw. The MS201T is the successor to the widely used MS200T. It claims to offer better fuel economy, reduced emissions and vibrations and a longer air-filter life. Stihl say it has tweaked the saw to meet the needs of the industry. For example, a captive nut is now used to hold on the sprocket cover so when the cover is taken off, the nut cannot fall off and get lost in the undergrowth. Stihl says it hopes that the new chainsaw will become the industry standard and is offering one as a prize in a draw that is open to all visitors.
The show is great place to buy the more specialised equipment used in the industry. Lyon Equipment is offering products by Petzl, designed for commercial climbers. As well as rope, Petzl offers harnesses, self-breaking descenders, pulleys and fall-arrest devices. And firms such as ForestandArb.com are providing a full range of protective jackets, boots, trousers and helmets as well as essential harnesses and climbing equipment.
For anyone looking for fresh challenges, the show is also a good place to make new contacts and look for career openings. Complete Tree Care recruitment agency will be actively looking for skilled staff. And Lantra Awards will be available to discuss training opportunities within the industry.
As well as providing visitors with the chance to see the latest products and services on offer on the trade stands, the event also hosts an exciting mix of talks, demonstrations and even a climbing competition (see p23).
Last year around 2,000 visitors came to the show from across the industry. "It's a small industry and very tight-knit so this is a great opportunity to get together," says Eden.
"It is particularly important for the smaller contractors that may only employ three or four people and rarely get a chance to network or expand their knowledge. And particularly because there is camping on-site, we hope that the show will be even busier and represent an even more important part of the year for everyone in the arboriculture world."
Picking up specialist skills from the professionals
Demonstrations and talks are expected, as always, to be a focus of attention. Climbing equipment supplier DMM will demonstrate techniques and discuss efficient methods of getting up a tree as well as health and safety regulations.
One of the show highlights is the Arborists Tree Challenge. "There are always people who feel they have superior climbing skills. This is a chance to put them to the test," says show organiser Simon Richmond. The popular Tree Climbers' Forum will also run throughout the show with expert advice and the chance to try out the latest equipment.
Demonstrations of technical skills will include Kingswood Training, explaining single rope access techniques and how to install a friction saver from the ground.
The Stihl demonstration area will concentrate on work positioning on a pole, using climbing irons as well as rescue and ascent techniques.
A demonstration by compliance inspectors Loler UK will look at working from a mobile elevated work platform and promote safe techniques for access. Association director Nick Eden says he expects this session to be popular because lifting and health and safety regulations makes work platforms a preferred option.
With interest in preserving old and historic trees, Robert Knott of Treeworker will explain how to use cables to prevent branches from falling off or splitting. The association will also explain the merits of its approved contractor scheme.
The show will also cater for those looking further afield for work. A talk on the 2010 Heart of Borneo expedition, where tree workers helped TV cameramen into the jungle canopy, shows that TV production could be a lucrative line.
Event: The ARB Show
Venue: Bathurst Estate, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6JT
How to get there: Sat Nav: Post Code GL7 6JT.
From the North
M5 south to Cheltenham/Gloucester (junction 11A).
Take A417 to Cirencester, then pick up "From Cirencester".
From the South and East
M4 west to Swindon (junction 15). Take A 419 to Cirencester then pick up "From Cirencester"
From the South West
M5 north to Stroud (junction 13). Take A419 towards Stroud, then Cirencester. Shortly after signs to Coates (on right), look for trade fair entrance on left.
A419 to Stroud (also signed to Royal Agricultural College). Approximately one mile out of Cirencester, pass the Royal Agricultural College on left. The entrance to the trade fair is one mile further on right (before Coates).