Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) members make the trip to Cookstown firm

The Northern Ireland branch members of Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) recently visited equipment rental specialist KDM Hire at Cookstown, Co. Tyrone and were welcomed by its MD, Mr Keith McIvor.

Thursday, 29th November 2018, 7:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 10:01 pm

Mr McIvor described how he started the business in 1990 by hiring some items from the family farm and developed it to its present form. He also delivered an illustrated presentation on the subject “The rental industry and a brief insight into the powered access sector”.

The KDM logo (which represents Mr McIvor’s initials) is now a widely recognised brand within the sector in Northern Ireland. The company is the largest company of its type in the province and is within the top 30 powered-hire businesses within the UK.

It has continued to develop both at its original location and Belfast depot and has recently opened a new four acre site for its K Cabin brand. The new operation provides logistics, storage and maintenance facilities for over 2000 cabins and toilet products alongside engineering, manufacturing, repair, shot blasting and painting activities.

The company has around 140 employees and £35 million worth of equipment (if valued at original cost). It is proud to offer a high quality, dependable and competitive service for its very wide selection of up to date efficient equipment.

This is available for both short or long term hire plus contract hire (one to five years). The hire of powered access equipment now accounts for around 25% of the business with cabin and site welfare products contributing a further 20%.

KDM, as a SafeHire certified company, is very strongly committed to maintaining the highest health and safety standards for both customers and the business. It is also an official Training Centre for IPAF (International Power Access Federation) and PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers and Manufactures Association) approved courses at both its Cookstown and Mallusk sites.

As an engineering group, the visitors were intrigued to hear the story of the business being developed steadily from its original farming base to offer such an extensive and constantly evolving range of equipment.

The company is a member of various trade quality assurance associations including the Hire Association of Europe and has regularly received awards for quality, service and customer care.

KDM is also a member of the Freight Transport Association with its own transport fleet making around 80 deliveries per day during the peak summer season.

In addition to the core business around the construction, site works, road maintenance and DIY sectors, KDM also provides site power, temporary secure storage and safe access for work at heights. Customers now also include factory operators and all types of social / public events such as agricultural shows, golf tournaments, pop concerts and motor sport events. The hire sector, within the UK, is well developed compared to other parts of Europe and now worth around £5 billion per year to the UK economy.

Specialist plant and equipment is very capital intensive so a hire company, like any business, needs to plan carefully before making investment decisions.

Compared with the long term commitment of outright purchase, hiring provides the customer with up-to-date, serviced, reliable equipment at a competitive hire rate for long or short periods.

They can change to a different type or size of plant during a project and forward cost planning is simpler as hire costs are both predictable and tax deductible. Additional items can be delivered immediately for emergency situations. Plant can be fitted with tracking devices to aid fault detection and security checking.

Powered access

The proper use of powered access equipment is a very positive aid to safer and more efficient work at height. It also provides access to otherwise inaccessible work areas. The wide range of powered access equipment or Mobile Elevated Work Platforms ( MEWPs) is well represented in the KDM fleet.

The smallest push-around masted types lift to 4.5m and will easily pass through a standard doorway. The powered scissor lift is the next category with the 19’ (6 m) version a popular example. Designed for narrow access on flat floors they are stable due to the ballast effect of their heavy base construction. Non marking solid tyres are a standard feature.

The larger versions travel on puncture proof tyres. Where a floor surface is not level, or its load-bearing capacity is limited, special types have retractable auto-levelling outrigger legs.

There are four wheel drive models for site work and now a further type on adjustable rubber tracks, which can level both longitudinally and laterally, for work on slopes up to 20 degrees.

The larger scissor lift models, for large industrial or construction applications, can lift 1 tonne up to a working height of 22.5 metres. These units are fitted with extended work platforms and are widely used for cladding / roofing work.

Artic boom types (sometimes referred to as spider boom lifts) are mounted on a 360 degree rotating turntable chassis and have a three or four section folding boom. They have the advantage of providing both height and forward reach to get to otherwise inaccessible places.

The wide range of applications includes on-site steel erection, building maintenance, tree surgery and elevated camera support at sporting events. They are designed to lift two people and their hand tools, but not additional loads.

The smallest trailer mounted version can retract the axle to just 1.1m to get through narrow entrances. There are also van or larger truck mounted platform versions typically used for street light and sign maintenance work.

Self propelled versions on a wheeled chassis are available with electric power for fume-free indoor work. Larger articulating-boom versions have the option of four wheel drive for travel across rough terrain. The 13.9m (45’) height 7.6m (25’) outreach version is a typically popular size for the hire market. The largest versions with telescopic jibs can lift to almost 43 m with an outreach of 21m.

The diesel telescopic types travel on a similar 360 degree turntable wheeled (or tracked) chassis but have a straight push-out, extending boom. The most popular hire versions have lift heights of 16m to 22m and outreach of 11m to 17m but the largest one in the fleet can carry 340 kg to a maximum working height of 48 m and has maximum horizontal outreach of 24m. It is the only one of its kind currently in Ireland and can be hired for up to £1500 per week.

Material handling and forklifts

The hire fleet has a full range of forklift trucks including mast type electric, gas and diesel powered counterbalance versions with lift capacities from 1.5 to 9 tonnes. Multi-directional side loading versions are available. These units are suitable for handling long loads like steel girders as it can travel sideways when carrying its load.

Telescopic-boom telehandlers with four-wheel drive /4 wheel steer are also part of the KDM hire fleet. They range from a low profile, narrow version lifting 2 tonnes to those with lift capacity up to 12 tonnes and reach of up to 18 metres.

For stability reasons, rated lift capacity is obviously reduced on all models as the telescopic boom is extended. The hire fleet has also recently added a larger heavy-lift version which can lift 12 tonnes at low level or 5 tonnes to 10 m.

Another recent addition to the hire fleet is the all terrain rotating telescopic forklift. It is designed to operate as a telehandler, crane or work platform. It has 4 wheel drive, 3 steering modes and jacking extendible outrigger legs.

The boom can rotate through 360 degrees and, depending on the model, extend to almost 23m reach or 26 m height. A radio control option offers remote operation from outside the cab for added visibility and safety.

All of the elevation and lifting equipment is routinely examined. Wind speed is a crucial factor in stability of elevated work situations so operators need to carry a meter and take account of wind speed readings.

Some recent work platforms have in-built wind-speed monitoring and protection systems. The addition of anything which would increase wind resistance (such as a promotional banner) is not permitted.

K Cabin accommodation and storage

Construction sites need secure storage for equipment/materials and for this purpose KDM provide a range of converted portable shipping containers. This has further developed under the K Cabin brand for a range of sizes and site applications including offices, canteens, welfare cabins, serviced toilets, dry rooms, chemical stores and bunded-floor generator cabins.

Health and safety regulations require the provision of toilets, washing facilities, and a sheltered area for eating and drying. For transient work sites the towable insulated mobile welfare units are easy to move on the road and lowered on site for increased convenience and security. A typical unit provides seating, a canteen area complete with hot/cold water, kettle, microwave cooker, fire extinguisher and first aid kit. Separate areas house a flush toilet, separate area for drying out wet clothing and the 6kVA silenced diesel generator which can be started remotely from the canteen area. A similarly equipped welfare unit in an eight seat Transit van is also available for use by crews involved in highway maintenance and utilities work.

The hire business also includes providing temporary offices (complete with furniture), ticket offices, shower/toilet blocks and decontamination units on sites for public social events such as sport tournaments, agricultural shows and outdoor music concerts.

Routine servicing is provided and KDM also offers event organisers an advance site survey, set-up, layout and design advice services to ensure compliance with environmental/health and safety legal requirements. Integrated packages providing set-up services, on-site power, lighting, engineer support, water supply, transport and post-event strip down are also available.

The business now also includes the building and refurbishing of containers/accommodation units and the sales of both new and used containers.


With the lift capacities/wide range of operating conditions of powered lifting and access equipment, operators must be adequately trained and qualified to use it safely. This is a legal requirement and KDM is an approved training centre. It offers Powered Access Operator Training, Mobile Access Tower Training, Forklift and Telehandler Operator Training as well as Harness Safety Training within its own training rooms and under-cover practice facilities. On site briefing about plant operation is provided on delivery.

KDM can supply a qualified operator if the hirer does not have one already. Lifting equipment and access equipment is subject to regular examination and certification as required by LOLER (The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998). KDM can provide this service, using their own qualified personnel at the hirer’s premises or on site.

Spares and servicing

KDM engineers service their own equipment and provide technical support on site including 24 hour call -out. As hire fleet plant is updated and replaced, used equipment is regularly offered for sale as well as new booms or scissor lifts. The KDM trade shop supplies a range of main-brand power tools, with service and maintenance back-up, as well as site equipment and personal protective equipment.

In addition to the services referred to above, KDM also provides a wide selection of hire equipment with associated accessories from within the following categories: Skid steer loaders, dumpers, rollers, excavators up to 20 tonnes, vans, trucks, ATVs, trailers, generators up to 1250 kVA, access scaffolding, power tools for cutting, grinding, breaking, drilling, wood working and fixing, air compressors and tools, pressure washers, water pumps, concrete mixers, welders, wood chippers ,space heating and ventilation equipment, lighting towers, site levels and traffic control systems.

More details of all the services are well illustrated within the current KDM Hire colour catalogue.

View it online at or call 0845 338 1388 for more information.


The talk was followed by a short question and answer session before the group went out to get a close look at the range of powered access items in their elevated positions.

The chairman, on behalf of the I Agr E members, thanked Mr McIvor and his staff for providing such an informative and enjoyable evening. They wish KDM continued success.