Every tree is a unique structure so its hard to imagine a piece of machinery taking the place of a climber but you can certainly see the appeal in the new arb specific mini lifts coming onto the market.
There is an excellent article in the latest TCIA Magazine which gives more detail on the trend - it's an American perspective but makes interesting reading never-the-less.
Industry commentators (in the article) claim the use of mini lifts (or mini arborists) will replace tree climbing in 90 to 95 percent of cases.
High percentages like that are hard to get your head around and one questions whether it will ever reach that kind of level in this country.
All of the aerial lift manufacturers have recognized the tree care niche and are rapidly developing cheaper, smaller size machines capable of accessing your average back yard.
These guys are cunning enough to know that cost will play a major role in the decision making process. If the entry level investment is too high arborists will continue to climb, but if the price comes down low enough the use of a mini lift will go up (excuse the pun).
The target market for mini lift marketers is older, tree care company owner/operators. Here's a sample from the mini lift industry advertising blurb:
"Tree climbing is a young man's business. With a mini lift, the company owner can stay active and more profitable indefinitely. He can use his experience as a climber and investment in equipment to run crews that are safer and far more efficient".
This is a pretty convincing argument and it must be taking root in the US if the article is anything to go by.
The question there has recently changed from "Why should I buy a mini lift, to what's the difference between the brands?" Get hold of a copy of the TCIA Magazine and read it for yourself.
And, it appears all you aerial arborists out there should plan another line of work - according to industry pundits 90 to 95 percent of you will be out of a job sometime soon!