Product innovations and a strong commercial construction market have combined to drive up the demand for scissor lifts. With expanded workspaces, improved stability and increased lifting capabilities, they have become indispensable in many construction and industrial applications.
"The market demand for scissors is strong," says Jeff Ford, product champion for JLG Industries’ scissor lift line.
Especially popular are the narrow-chassis, 26-foot lifts, which are rapidly replacing the 20-foot lifts that have been the industry standard for many years. Their compact width - 32 inches or less - allows operators to maneuver the lifts through standard, single-size doors.
"People are thinking why buy a 20-foot lift when you can get a 26-foot lift that goes all the same places and more?" says Tom Stachurski, vice president with Haulotte USA.
Rick Sellers, sales manager for Aerial Lift Service Company in Sacramento, CA, agrees with Stachurski's assessment. "With the newer, compact lifts, you can go through narrow doorways and work in a congested area or narrow aisle," he says. "Both the compact size and height are benefits."
Tackling rough terrains
There is also growing demand for rough-terrain and dual-deck units as well as lifts that can be driven in fully heightened positions. Rough-terrain lifts have been equipped with load management devices to help them negotiate steep grades.
"These rough-terrain lifts are very good machines for commercial construction," Stachurski says. "This was a dead area for a few years in the United States because construction spending was down, but now it’s coming back."
In the United States, Haulotte offers several diesel-powered, rough-terrain scissor lifts with a reach of up to 59 feet. In Europe, Haulotte has introduced compact, electrically powered lifts that can be used both inside and outside buildings. With a working height of 30 to 36 feet, these lifts feature rear-wheel drive and high ground clearance, which allows them to traverse a wide variety of terrains.
Genie Industries' rough-terrain scissor lifts, which can be powered by gas, diesel or propane, offer working heights up to 59 feet and feature automatic-leveling hydraulic outriggers for added stability. JLG's rough-terrain scissors can be diesel or gas powered and feature working heights of 26 to 43 feet.
Elevated work spaces
Besides increasing reach and condensing chassis, scissor lift manufacturers have made their equipment more versatile with larger (and expandable) decks where operators can easily work with table saws, welders and other tools.
"Your basic slab unit today has to have an extended deck, smooth control operation, tight steering-turn capability, automatic chargers for refreshing batteries and non-marring tires," says Stachurski. "Many of these items were options in the past."
In addition, lifts are being equipped with special accessories for specific applications. JLG's "Workstation in the SkyTM" lift accessories include a workbench with compartments for a reciprocating saw, drill, circular saw and other power tools; a rail-mounted vise, pipe racks, a wire-spool holder, a panel carrier or a welder. In addition, the workstation features a built-in tray that can be pulled out to provide a flat working surface near the top of the rails. These customized accessories allow lifts to carry up to 200 pounds of pipe or drywall. JLG's SkyPositionerTM accessory, designed for HVAC and sprinkler systems, can accommodate 1,000 pounds of ductwork up to 52 inches wide and pipe up to 8 inches in diameter.
"(The SkyPositionerTM) allows the operator to slide pipe into overhead hangers without the risks associated with manual lifting," Ford says.
Storing pipe or conduit outside the platform area also reduces trip hazards and improves workflow. "Scissor lifts fitted with customized accessories can store materials without cluttering the floor or damaging the railings," says Ford. "Productivity is increased because more can be taken to the work area."