Aerial Lifts – Guide to Selecting and Buying

Aerial lifts are mechanical devices that provide temporary access to objects at a height or inaccessible location. They are commonly used in manufacturing plans, fire fighting missions, maintenance services, retail stores, warehouses and construction sites.

Types of aerial lifts

Broadly, aerial lifts are classified into slab lifts and rough terrain lifts. Slab lifts are usually used indoors. They are suited to work on smooth surfaces, are electric powered and have solid rubber tires that do not mark retail or warehouse floors. Rough terrain lifts, as the name suggests, are suitable for uneven ground. They work on gas, diesel or are dual powered. Pneumatic tires given them a firm grip on the ground. Some have foam filled tires which are expensive, but don’t go flat.

Designs of aerial lifts

These are available in many designs. Important factors to check in any design are the platform height (vertical reach of the lift platform), power choices (gas, diesel, battery-operated, self propelled, electricity) and lifting capacity. The three major designs are:

Boom aerial lifts

Boom lifts have a bucket at the end of the extended arm. Platform height is in the range of 20-110 feet. Lifting capacity is 500 pounds. There are three types of boom lifts:

  • Telescopic boom lift has telescoping sections in its arm lengthening its reach to 120 feet at any angle.
  • Articulating boom lift has bendable arms that can reach around and over unmovable obstructions such as trees and power lines.
  • Trailer mounted boom lift is battery powered and has a platform height of 30-50 feet. It is towed to work.

Scissor aerial lifts

These have a platform height of 19-50 feet and a lifting capacity of 500-2500 pounds. It has a large workspace that can lift a number of people, heavy equipment and products. The platforms are extendable for even greater flexibility.

Vertical personnel aerial lifts

Vertical personnel lifts have a platform height of 12-50 feet and lifting capacity of 300 pounds. These are operated by single users and are economical in moving people and equipment up and down on a vertical plane.

Safety is paramount

Lifts lift people to dangerous heights. Safety measures and safety features are of utmost importance. Some safety features are described below.

  • High speed cutouts slow it down after a certain height is reached.
  • Pothole protection is the projection of arms to stabilize lift on uneven terrain.
  • Level warnings are alarms that sound when the lift is not level. The boom operation is automatically disabled at this time.
  • Static straps are used to ground the lift to protect workers from static shock.
  • Manual descent valve is used to lower the platform manually in case of a power outage.
  • LCD displays provide sensory information and diagnostics for safer operations.

Most dealers offer maintenance and servicing and an yearly inspection and warranty. You should get references from businesses similar to yours before finalizing a purchase from a dealer. If the use of the lift does not justify the cost, you can consider renting one. Aerial lifts increase the efficiency of your operations, save time and allow you to do a better job. Assess your needs carefully before selecting the design that will work best at your location.