Cool Tools: Elevating Work Platforms
Published: August 2008
A wide selection of mobile lift equipment is available today for elevated electrical and datacom construction and main-tenance. Job conditions usually are the primary influence of determining which type of equipment is best.
Compact vertical lifts can take a single worker and tools straight up; scissors lifts with platforms lift personnel, tools and equipment; self-propelled telescoping booms with personnel buckets can be moved around job sites with boom and bucket extended; and articulating boom lifts can maneuver buckets up and over obstacles. Rough-terrain models can be used outside or in buildings where floors have not been laid.
Aerial lifts allow personnel to be more efficient and to complete overhead work easier. They can make overhead work safer by reduc-ing the need for workers to climb structures or ladders while carrying tools and equipment, and they may avoid the need for the time-consuming, labor-intensive task of erecting and dismantling scaffolding.
Many electrical contracting companies own a variety of work lifts, and they are extremely popular rental items, available at most equipment rental centers. Short-term rentals provide the option of having the types of overhead equipment needed for specific jobs, then returning them once the project is complete.
Equipment has evolved since the last Cool Tools report on this category of equipment, and the latest models of major suppliers in-corporate new features.
JLG INDUSTRIES offers electric and combustion engine-powered scissors lifts, mast-type lifts and boom lifts with working heights from 12 to 135 feet and lifting capabilities from 500 to 2,000 pounds.
“Work platforms are widely used by electricians due to their ability to raise workers to overhead areas quickly and more safely than scaffolding or ladders,” said Howard Kaplan, JLG Industries vice president. “They reduce the situations in which workers have to climb to overhead work areas, allowing them to perform work, then drive the machine to the next overhead work area without having to return to ground level, avoiding the need to reset ladder positions or reposition scaffolding.”
New construction, building and plant refurbishment and maintenance are among reasons there is a growing amount of overhead work, Kaplan said. Requirements to complete work in shorter time periods also is a factor in increased demand for elevating work platforms.
Kaplan said JLG has introduced two new electric-powered machines, one a mast-style scissors lift with 12-foot platform height to work in confined spaces. The platform is raised by an electric drive system with multiphase hydraulic cylinders. The unit weighs 1,775 pounds and, in stowed configuration, it is only 30 inches wide and 65 inches high.
The other new project is a vertical telescoping mast machine with maximum platform height of 32 feet, 9 inches and articulating job boom that can extend the platform 14 feet, 6 inches from the mast. The platform also can be rotated 120 degrees and has 360-degree noncontinuous swing to access difficult-to-reach locations.
Although not a new feature, Kaplan said JLG remains the only manufacturer to offer an electricians’ package, available for its ES-series scissors model.
“The workstation package features a storable bench, a 110-volt outlet for power tools, specially sized compartments for fasteners and connectors, plus tool holders that will accommodate a reciprocating saw, hammer drill, pipe bender and circular saw. Other ac-cessories can include a built-in 12-volt plug to power cordless tool battery chargers, a rail-mounted vise, a pipe rack and a ‘tree’ that provides a wire spool loom in the platform eliminating ground-based wire trees, and allowing wire spools to be fed directly into con-duit,” Kaplan said.
SNORKEL INTERNATIONAL markets booms, scissors lifts and vertical mast lifts.
The latest portable lift equipment is more user-friendly and has options for specific applications and types of job sites, said George Fitchett, director of North American sales.
One of the newest Snorkel models is the U.S.-built SR3370 rough-terrain scissors lift with a working height of 33 feet and 55-by-107-inch deck with 4-foot roll-out extension. The diesel-powered machine is equipped with large tires and has 15 inches of ground clear-ance. Other features include proportional speed control, 35 percent gradeability, independent oscillating axles, independently operated hydraulic outriggers, forklift pockets and lifting lugs.
GENIE INDUSTRIES’ line of lift equipment includes compact work platforms for one or two people, scissors lifts, telescoping booms and articulating booms.
Well-suited for electrical applications, the GS 3232 self-propelled scissors lift has maximum work height of 38 feet, said Eric Ludwig, scissors lift product manager. Its compact size enables it to pass through standard doorways when in the stowed position.
The lift has a capacity of 500 pounds and deck dimensions of 2 feet, 8 inches wide by 7 feet, 5 inches. It has a deck extension that modi-fies the length another 3 feet. The system’s variable-speed DC motor provides battery efficiency, conserves energy and reduces heat genera-tion. An automatic leveling hydraulic outrigger system is able to level on slopes of up to five degrees side-to-side and three degrees front-to-back. A laser locator option helps the operator position the unit before deploying the outriggers.
GRIFFIN, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at 405.748.5256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.