"Their main limitation," says Conley, "is that most articulated boom models do not have the extended reach capacity of a stick boom."
Mohn clarifies, "Whenever you have a telescopic boom and an articulated boom in the same height class (e.g., 60 ft.), the telescopic boom will always have more horizontal outreach."
Terrain's influence on features
OSHA regulations require general contractors to provide surface conditions that enable easy site access, Roeske comments. "But sometimes you do have dirt conditions mixed with gravel, and you have Mother Nature to deal with," he says.
Consequently, Roeske almost always specs four-wheel drive on boom lifts. "We work 12 months out of the year, whether it's cold or hot, wet or dry," he points out. "Four-wheel drive is normally a very valuable asset."
Four-wheel drive has become almost standard on models for outdoor use. "Most of the combustion-powered machines we sell are four-wheel drive with an oscillating axle," says Mohn. "That's what people generally want, I think as much for the versatility — because they never know what kind of job they're going to run into — as for the resale value. A four-wheel drive is going to bring more when you go to sell the machine than a two-wheel drive."
Gradeability is another consideration if the lift will be driven over slopes. However, Mohn suggests taking this a step further to assess "terrainability" of the lift. "How does it get around the jobsite? If one tire starts to spin, are you going to be stuck? Do you have the proper flow division to transfer the power to the wheels to still have traction to pull you through?" he asks. "To us, that's more important than a straight gradeability number — whether you can get around the jobsite in different types of conditions."
Ground conditions influence the type of tires required, as well. Indoor applications may require non-marking tires, while sensitive landscape, such as a golf course, may dictate turf tires. Areas such as South Florida, where sugar sand is prevalent, may call for high-flotation, non-aggressive sand tires, or even tracks.
Both removable and fixed track options may be available, depending on the manufacturer. For example, Genie offers a flexible track option for use on approved wheeled models, plus the S-60 and S-65 Trax lifts with a dedicated track undercarriage.
As with other tracked equipment, tracked lifts tend to be easier on turf due to lower ground pressure, and supply more traction in challenging soils, such as sand or gravel. "The Trax can also enter jobsites earlier in the Spring thaw, where muddy conditions make wheeled machines inappropriate," Harvey adds.
Communicate your requirements
To ensure you get the type, size and features you need in a boom lift, it's important to come to the rental center or dealership armed with adequate information. According to Disser, this includes:
- the maximum vertical height and horizontal reach needed to place workers at chest level to the work area;
- total weight to be lifted (workers and materials);
- jobsite conditions, including accessibility to the work area, ground conditions and any overhead obstructions;
- type of power source required;
- number of lifts needed to complete the job.
Once there, be prepared to explain the nature of the work you need to perform and the conditions the lift will encounter. "Discussions of this nature are part of the customer service process at United Rentals," Conley notes. "We want to make sure we're recommending equipment that is optimal for jobsite conditions and worker safety."
If there is any uncertainty about what's needed, consider requesting an on-site assessment. Roeske has nearly 10 years of experience spec'ing lifts, yet he wouldn't hesitate to bring his sales rep at Illini Hi-Reach, the local JLG distributor in LeMont, IL, out to the jobsite. "I know what I need, but if there were a job or situation I wasn't familiar with, I could call my salesman from Illini Hi-Reach. They have very knowledgeable salespeople who not only know the equipment, but they know the application," he states. "You might think you need a 60 footer, and they will say you could do it with a 40. They will save you money."