For rental businesses looking to meet a demand for lift equipment with limited resources, towable boom lifts can be just the ticket. For a price tag that ranges from 30 to 50 percent less than a self-propelled boom lift, a rental business can acquire a towable boom that rivals the self-propelled models in terms of utility.
There are towables in existence which can reach as high as 100 feet, but most on the market in the U.S. range from 35 to 60 feet. They generally come in two types: articulated knuckle booms and telescopic booms. Knuckles are the most popular because they offer versatility in places they can reach. With a knuckle, the boom can get close to the structure and then reach over it, whereas telescopic booms are limited to just reaching up.
Towables are priced as low as $25,000, making them an affordable option for the rental business not prepared to invest upwards of $75,000 to get into the lift market.
"The initial acquisition price for towable boom lifts would be lower than a comparable platform height self-propelled boom lift primarily due to their not being equipped with the very expensive drive systems that are representative of today's self-propelled boom lifts," says Mark Mohn, product manager-boom lifts with JLG Industries Inc. "Towable boom lifts do have optional drive systems, but these would be to deliver more basic drive and grade requirements."
Aimed at serving the needs of light contractors, landscaping professionals and homeowners, towable booms have the potential to bring lift equipment to markets previously untapped by your rental business.
"They're ideal for homeowners," notes Brad Dilling, product manager at Genie Industries. "They're a very big rental items for that market."
Mohn adds, "Towable boom lifts are attractive to a wide range of customers beyond larger contractors, creating new streams of revenue for the rental company."
He notes, however, that "towable booms are for lighter-duty applications than typical self-propelled booms and have a limited drive capability when optionally equipped. Self-propelled booms generally have larger platforms to allow multiple workers in the platform while towable booms are more typically for one-person operations."
One reason for the appeal of towables to the homeowner market is their ease of transport. "No special carriers are required. Your customer's personal vehicle outfitted with a trailer hitch (as many pickup trucks and SUVs are now purchased) with a minimum towing capacity of 3,000 pounds will get [them] on the road," explains Mohn.
This is good news to small, independent rental businesses that don't have a large fleet of delivery trucks. With one or two towable booms in their fleet, they can still provide lift equipment to their customers without a lot of additional overhead.
Another aspect to towables that makes them ideal for the weekend warrior is the simplicity of the controls. As Mohn notes, fewer machine functions facilitates training for new operators.
Lightweight and level
While they're easy to transport away from your rental yard, towable booms are not made to move around a jobsite with the boom extended, as are their self-propelled cousins.
"You can't drive towables while up in the air," says Alastair Robertson with Niftylift, which has been making towable boom lifts since 1981. "Most towables today offer a [drive and set] arrangement so the operator can walk-behind or drive the machine from the platform in the stowed position."
Because they can't be driven with the boom extended, towables are not designed for every application. "It takes more time to move the machine a lot," says Dilling. "You have to keep coming down and going back up."
Towables are, however, ideal for applications where vehicle weight is a concern.
"The platform on towables is made of aluminum, whereas on self-propelled models, it's steel," says Dilling. "This is done to keep the weight down."