Eccles stresses that details associated with the jobsite and work requirements are just as important as the big picture application. He gives these examples:
Building access. A standard door is 34 to 36 in. wide. An electric scissor lift typically comes in 32- and 46-in. widths. Without a double door for access, the operator will not be able to get the wider lift into the building.
Available power. An electric scissor lift should have enough battery power for an 8- to 10-hour day. However, batteries require eight hours of constant electricity to fully recharge while the unit is not in use. Often, new jobsites have temporary generators that run only during working hours, giving you little or no opportunity to charge the lift.
Working height. Understand the meaning of working height. For example, a contractor may ask for a 25-ft. scissor lift to accommodate a 25-ft. working height. In reality, a 19-ft. scissor lift with a 6-ft.-tall person in the basket would reach the same height and be 35% less expensive. Also note that an electric lift will not go above 6 ft. on any uneven surface.
"Access to the working area is also important," adds Eccles. "A contractor working in a ceiling grid or in between piping or other mechanical fixtures may discover that a full-length scissor will not fit into the overhead working area. A single-person personnel lift with a smaller, narrower basket would be a better option."
Be detail oriented when inspecting the jobsite terrain, as well. As Hindman relates, a four-wheel-drive unit or one with a crawler undercarriage might be required for soft or muddy conditions. Sloped sites may need a machine with more gradeability, and those with scattered debris require machines with higher ground clearance.
And keep in mind you have plenty of tire options to suit conditions. "[You] can select traditional pneumatic tires or go with foam-filled tires to avoid flats," Hindman points out. "High-flotation tires work best in certain turf situations, and solid, non-marking tires are designed for use on wood flooring or tile and marble surfaces."
Operator experience is critical, states Dale Roesener, senior vice president of H&E Equipment, Las Vegas, NV. "The aerial lift operator needs to be trained on equipment for both safety and productivity reasons. If the operator is inexperienced, make sure to ask the rental store for training."
If there is uncertainty about site conditions that could present a safety issue, bring that to the rental store's attention, adds Danny Tittle, a purchaser for Tucson-based Kazal Fire Protection, and an RSC customer. His company uses a variety of lifts to install fire protection equipment in new construction and to service older systems.
"Most of our new installations require working on pavement," he says, "although at times the jobsite will call for an all-terrain lift. There are occasions when a small articulating lift will be needed to work around desks to repair an older system.
"One of the chief concerns when renting any lift is safety," he states. "If we're unsure about the type of lift we need, someone from RSC will come over and inspect the site to ensure the machine fits the application."
Weido offers two additional safety tips for operating scissor lifts. "Anytime a scissor lift is used outside on an uneven surface, we recommend the use of outriggers for additional support and stability," he says. "Another consideration is floor loading specifications for multi-storied buildings. Always be sure that the aerial lift floor loading specifications fit within the floor loading limits of the jobsite."
Rent vs. Own
Stark Electric performs a variety of lift applications, from running conduits inside buildings and lifting transformers outside, to unloading switch gear from trucks. "We may use scissor lifts or boom lifts, depending on the application," says Chad Lynn, estimator. "Some applications are on concrete and others are off road."
The range of applications, in combination with the service it receives from RSC, encourages Stark Electric to rent vs. owning lifts. "RSC maintains the equipment and is very prompt if a machine goes down; they will come out and swap it out immediately," says Lynn.