If you've been renting aerial lifts for any length of time, you probably know what information to give rental suppliers and what questions to ask to get the right equipment for the application. On the other hand, if you're a first-time lift renter, or use them only sporadically throughout the year, getting the exact aerial platform to meet your needs can be tricky.
How high will you need to reach? What are the jobsite conditions? Will you be working inside or outdoors? These are just a few questions that require answering before picking up the phone or trekking to the rental center. There are others, as well, including critical information about how you plan to use your aerial lift once on site. The following are a few suggestions from manufacturers, rental suppliers and contractors that can help you select the right equipment from both a productivity and safety perspective.
Narrow Down Your Needs
"The first issue contractors need to address is how they intend to use the unit," says Frank Schneider, Terex AWP product manager, Genie Booms. "Changing a light bulb in a parking structure requires a much different lift than installing exterior glass plates on the fifth floor."
Answering three questions will help narrow your renting decision. "First ask: 'Where will the work be performed?' This tells both the height requirement of the lift and model needed," Schneider indicates. "If the work is to be done overhead, then a vertical lift would be in order. A telescopic lift would be needed for outreach applications, and an articulating boom would be best suited for obstructed work areas.
"Second, knowing how many people and what tools and equipment are required to get the job done will indicate platform requirements including capacity and need for AC power," he continues. "Finally, will the work be indoors or outdoors? Indoor applications call for an electric or propane power source and fixed-axle or 2WD units with non-marking tires. Outdoors generally calls for a diesel or gas power source, oscillating axles and 4WD, and RT tires."
"Consider the total work area and any constraints or limitations, e.g., where the machine may not fit or be able to maneuver," adds Jeff Weido, Terex AWP product manager, Genie Scissors. "Look at lift weight, as well. Since contractor weight estimates will likely be low, if the job calls for lifting 1,000 lbs., then a contractor should consider a machine that can lift 1,200 to 1,500 lbs. This ensures maximum performance."
Be Work Specific
After deciding on the type and size of machine, take a close look at the type of work to be performed from the platform.
"Today's leading manufacturers offer a variety of options that will increase productivity. Welders, plasma cutters, saws, pressure washing systems and lighting packages all can be powered by built-in generators and electric cable and air/water lines running through the boom to the platform," explains Jim Hindman, spokesperson for JLG Industries. "Using these integrated tool systems increases productivity, eliminates the need for costly ancillary equipment and, by eliminating wires and hoses running over the side of the platform to the ground, provides a much safer working environment."
Avoid making generalizations about applications when renting a lift, emphasizes Eric Eccles, general manager of RSC Equipment Rental, Tucson, AZ. "Mechanical contractor customers, for example, often have large, bulky items in their baskets. This application requires a wide scissor rather than a 32-in. narrow unit that would normally be used for getting into confined areas.
"Similarly, insulation contractors often want RT (rough-terrain) scissors even though they are working inside," he notes. "This allows workers to store large bundles of insulation in the basket. The more they can carry means fewer trips to the ground to reload and ultimately more productivity."
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