Aerial Equipment

When to use what and why

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Aerial Equipment Overview

Even the tallest construction workers only have a standing work-radius potential of around eight vertical feet high and a lateral reach of less than four feet. The average laborer can only reach and work overhead between six and seven feet and can only do so with light tools and materials. In any one direction, the lateral reach of a normal sized person is between two and three-plus feet. That means a builder or technician can only finish about 33% of even a single story house without aerial equipment. A latter and/scaffolding are required at the very least, but un-motorized aerial equipment is very limited. Ladders are too unstable to serve as a means of moving anything but the lightest materials and tools to a higher point and scaffolding -- while very stable -- has weight limits as well. In addition, moving ladders and assembling and disassembling scaffolding is time consuming. To work at any height with heavy power tools and to place and fasten heavy or long materials, booms, lifts and cranes are required. Motorized aerial equipment affords builders the means to quickly move from the ground up and transport heavy equipment, tools and materials while doing so.

If you need to rent aerial equipment for your project, visit our catalog or call our Prodesk at (888) 394-9720.

How do you know which machine is right for the job?

The aerial equipment category has a wide variety of machines serving various applications, which can make it difficult to decide which piece of equipment is best for your project. To choose the proper type of lift, you’ll need to first identify what the job requires. Below is a list of the most popular aerial machines and the primary use cases for selection.

Scissor lifts are ideal if you need a work platform with a large surface area. This type of lift is limited to vertical movement, straight up and down. Scissor lifts can accommodate significant weight and multiple people which make it a popular choice for lifting more than one person to heights up to 40 feet.

Articulating boom lifts are best for reaching around obstacles to achieve a desired height. This lift has knuckles, which allow it to bend at various points to maneuver around objects. With lift heights up to 135 feet, articulating boom lifts are offered as driveable or towable units. These lifts can only support one person at a time.

Straight telescoping boom lifts are best for lifting to extreme heights. These lifts are great for moving people and materials over hazardous terrain. These lifts can extend straight, up to 135 feet, and only support one person at a time. For loads exceeding 1,000 lbs, contractors often opt to use telehandlers with heavier lifting capacity.

Common Types of Aerial Equipment

  • Atrium / Spider Lifts

    Atrium / Spider Lifts

    Named for the resemblance the framework of the lift -- lengths of tubing bolted together to form a pair of articulating, stacked Xs -- has to a column of scissors opening and closing in unison as the hydraulics move the platform up and down, scissor lifts are the equivalent of motor powered scaffolding. Scissor lifts have a larger platform than boom, atrium, articulating and man lifts. The larger the platform means a construction worker can keep more equipment, tools, and material at hand.

  • Boom Lifts

    Boom Lifts

    With mechanics similar to those found on a man lift, straight telescoping boom lifts have masts that extend and detract. However, different than a man lift, telescoping boom lifts sit on a turntable which means lateral movement is an option. In addition the boom on a telescoping lift can be moved forward and back without moving the body. Like most other booms and lifts, a telescoping boom lift is operated from the basket. The boom on articulating lifts has two joints. The boom is z-shaped when contracted. As the angle at the joints lessens when the boom is extended, the basket on the end moves farther from the body of the machine. The z-boom can also be rotated forward and back. There are two types of articulating boom lifts, those with a turntable and those without. A turntable allows an operator to move the boom, and the basket, laterally. The top arm of the boom on some articulating lifts can extend in and out. So, an articulating lift boom moves up and down; forward and back; right to left; and in and out. Articulating booms are operated from the basket on the end of the boom.

  • Cranes

    Cranes

    Designed to lift and lower materials, tools and equipment, cranes do not have a basket or cage attached to the end of the boom. On the end of a crane boom is a hook or treble that is drawn in or out via a cable which winds in or out off a spool fastened to the body of the machine. The boom on a crane is attached to a turntable which means it can move laterally. A hydraulic system also allows an operator to move the boom forward and back.

  • Scissor Lifts

    Scissor Lifts

    Named for the resemblance the framework of the lift -- lengths of tubing bolted together to form a pair of articulating, stacked Xs -- has to a column of scissors opening and closing in unison as the hydraulics move the platform up and down, scissor lifts are the equivalent of motor powered scaffolding. Scissor lifts have a larger platform than boom, atrium, articulating and man lifts. The larger the platform means a construction worker can keep more equipment, tools, and material at hand.

  • Single-Man Lifts

    Single-Man Lifts

    Named for the resemblance the framework of the lift -- lengths of tubing bolted together to form a pair of articulating, stacked Xs -- has to a column of scissors opening and closing in unison as the hydraulics move the platform up and down, scissor lifts are the equivalent of motor powered scaffolding. Scissor lifts have a larger platform than boom, atrium, articulating and man lifts. The larger the platform means a construction worker can keep more equipment, tools, and material at hand.

Other Considerations When Renting Aerial Equipment

  • Lifting Height

    Figure out the maximum height needed to work comfortably. Depending on the manufacturer, lift heights are either displayed as platform height or working height. Platform height is the base level of the working platform, while working height is 6 feet more than the working platform. For a scissor lift with a platform height of 19’, the working height would be 25’.

  • Lifting Capacity

    Aerial lifts can only hold so much weight so it’s important to know what your maximum capacity is. Operating aerial machinery beyond capacity is dangerous and can increase the risk of equipment falling over, causing injury or death. When estimating capacity between people, materials and supplies, overestimate since it’s better to be safe. Aerial equipment typically supports weights between 300 and 1,500 lbs.

  • Dimensions

    Aerial equipment comes in a variety of sizes which should be considered for each application. A good rule of thumb is that aerial equipment gets bigger as lifting height and capacity increases. Be sure to measure whether equipment can fit through doors, hallways, and low clearance areas prior to delivery. The platform size is another consideration since large platforms limit lifting height.

  • Terrain

    Having a sense for the terrain of the job site is important since special tires are required for use on uneven surfaces and dirt. Rough terrain models are a bit less maneuverable due to their size. They also come in four wheel drive which helps deal with hills, ramps, mud and other obstacles.

  • Power Type

    Aerial equipment comes in a variety of power types. It can be electric, gas, propane or diesel, depending on whether it’s being used indoors or outside.