- Posted by The Rental Store
- On January 16, 2019
- Aerial Work Platforms, Machine Selection, Scissor Lifts
Consider Height, Capacity, Site Conditions When Selecting an Aerial Work Platform
It doesn’t matter if the job is installing HVAC in an industrial setting or placing rafters for the construction of a new home, aerial work platforms lift contractors to overhead work areas quickly and safely.
Scissor lifts — flat platforms that travel straight up and down — are among the most commonly rented aerial work platforms. Best for moving multiple people or large amounts of equipment or materials up and down, scissor lifts feature large work decks and the ability to lift heavy loads.
The lifts utilize a lifting mechanism consisting of a stack of crossed tubes that work in a scissor-like fashion when the platform is raised or lowered. These machines are designed for use primarily on firm, level surfaces to access areas directly overhead.
Large lift capacities enable the operator to carry heavy combinations of tools and materials. Ample platforms provide plenty of space for materials and personnel, and enable workers to access a substantial work area without repositioning the lift. Many scissor lifts also feature a platform extension that slides or rolls out one end of the deck to provide an even larger work area, as well as a few extra feet of outreach.
Electric scissor lifts are exceptionally mobile, with high steering angles providing excellent maneuverability in tight or restricted indoor applications. Characterized by low noise levels, electric scissor lifts typically fit easily through standard single- or double-doorways. Applications include installation or maintenance of ventilation, air conditioning and electrical work.
Rough-terrain scissor lifts are tough, construction-oriented, four-wheel drive machines with positive traction control — ideal for increasing productivity on demanding outdoor worksites. Lift speed and large-area platforms maximize efficiency with the handling and capacity needed to do the job much faster than scaffolding. Applications include maintenance, installation and construction.
Making the Right Choice
Scissor lifts fit a wide variety of overhead access needs. But selecting the right machine requires more than simply knowing how high you want to reach. If you don’t look at all your needs, you may end up with a machine that isn’t designed for your application requirements.
Obviously, platform height is the number one criterion. But what good is a machine that is capable of reaching the desired height if, because of jobsite conditions, you can’t position the machine directly beneath the work area? In this case you need to look at both height and horizontal outreach capabilities.
By determining where you will be positioning the machine, you can determine which machine will give you the right combination of height and horizontal outreach needed to access the work area.
It is also important to determine the work requirements of the lift. How many people are required for the application, and how much equipment and materials will be lifted? Platform capacity dictates how many people, tools and supplies the machine will hold. You’ll also want to look at the platform size to make sure it will provide you with an adequate working area and will accommodate your largest load.
When selecting the right machine for the job, consider whether the work area is outside or indoors. Various power sources for indoor and outdoor applications are available, including gas, diesel or dual-fuel engines, and AC or DC electrical power.
Consider site conditions when renting an aerial work lift. Is it a congested area that requires a tight turning radius, or must the machine pass through narrow or low doorways?
Look overhead and along the entire work venue to see if there are any low clearance areas where the stowed height of the machine might be critical, and to see if there are any tight areas you need to pass through where a narrow overall machine width or tighter turning radius might be required.
Are there any overhead obstructions that you must maneuver around to reach the work area? If so, you may have to use an articulated boom lift or a boom lift with an articulated jib to reach up and over obstacles, rather than a scissor lift.
Be sure to consider the operating surface, too. Is it a concrete slab or soft earth? Is it firm enough to support the machine weight? Are there any floor load limits? Many areas like parking structures, bridges and sidewalks have load limits. Boom lifts with additional outreach or rough terrain scissor lifts with outriggers may be required.
Look at the terrain around the site, is it level or sloped? If it’s sloped, you may need a machine with more gradeability. If it’s soft or muddy, you may need four-wheel drive or a machine with a crawler undercarriage. If there’s debris, you may need a machine with higher ground clearance.
Terrain also dictates tire selection. Tire options include foam filled, pneumatic, high flotation “turf tires” for work on soft, uneven, or hilly terrain, and solid non-marking tires for use on wood flooring, tile and marble surfaces.
Be sure to review all of your needs and jobsite parameters — and ask questions — before selecting a machine. It could save you a whole lot of time and trouble on the job, and lead to greater productivity.