Working At a Height: An Aerial Lift Guide

Working at a height can produce significantly more obstacles than base-level operations. Construction and maintenance work can be hindered without the appropriate aerial lifts, allowing stable access to high and out of reach places.

Brooks Hire offer various aerial lifts, suitable for any application desired. Here, we’ll look at each lift and which one is best suited to your task.

Scissor Lifts & Vertical Mast Lifts

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Scissor lifts and vertical mast lifts are similar in nature, in that they both only extend vertically. They’re two of the simplest aerial lifts to operate, with vehicle turning functionality via wheels at their base. Their reach can vary from machine to machine, with an approximate value of 15ft-50ft at their maximum, and scissor lifts more commonly on the higher end of the spectrum.

For more generalised work, scissor lifts often receive the most praise, due to their larger and more stable platform, whilst still being one of the smaller aerial lifts, able to fit into compact working spaces. Their crisscrossing pattern, when extended, allows for greater stability of the device and the ability to carry a heavier load than a vertical mast lift. They come in multiple forms, utilising varying fuel sources to function, which, depending on your choice, make them suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. Common options include diesel, electric, and hydraulically powered lifts.

Vertical Mast Lifts are more beneficial when there are tight spaces needing to be accessed. Their basket and base footprint are small enough to maneuver into hard-to-reach places, which scissor lifts might struggle to. Their extendable mast also provides a smaller physical structure than the scissor lift and is lighter in weight, making them perfect for use in shopping centers or tightly packed workshops. Similarly to the scissor lift, they can come with extendable platforms, allowing for a larger working platform in the air and greater versatility. Drivable models run on electric power, making them environmentally friendly with a zero-emission output.

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The highest reaching aerial lifts come in the form of Boom Lifts. They have the capability to reach heights of up to 150ft. An umbrella name for various types of lifts, Brooks Hire stock a variety of boom lifts, with the two most common being the articulated boom and telescopic boom.

The telescopic boom, also referred to as the “straight” or “stick” boom, has a straight arm that can be hydraulically operated to extend straight out from the boom hoist, at an angle. As the name suggests, this lift does not allow for any additional directional movement. Due to its solid design, and one-directional extension, this boom is extremely stable and can carry a larger weight and reach heights greater than that of the articulated boom.

Telescopic booms are often used when working from a distance and chassis access is not plausible from directly below. Their height range make them popular choices for applications such as trimming trees, painting, electrical work, and building maintenance.

Similarly to the telescopic boom, the articulated boom – or “knuckle boom”- is capable of reaching spaces otherwise inaccessible. The additional “knuckles”, or hinges on the boom, allow it to maneuver around multiple tricky curves, making it the most adaptable and precise aerial boom on the market. It is often used when operators need to alter position frequently or the site is situated in a hard-to-reach place that requires machine maneuvering.

At Brooks, we offer a range of diesel and electric articulated booms and telescopic booms.

Accessibility On the Move

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Further subcategories of the boom lift, include Compact Crawler Booms and Trailer-Mounted Booms. These lifts allow for greater accessibility in terms of their ability to be transported quickly from location to location.

Compact Crawler Booms are comprised of tracked wheels, that allow them to climb slopes and make them ideal for jobsites. They’re also considered a high accessibility lift due to their lightweight and narrow design, which allows them to pass through standard doorways, and other smaller spaces that larger applications could not enter.

Where a compact crawler boom can be mounted onto a trailer for transport, a trailer-mounted boom lift can be attached directly to a vehicle via its tow ball. This makes it ideal for contractors who require the lift in various locations, multiple times over a short space of time, such as residential tree cutters, painters, or for electrical repairs.

The Genie TZ-34/20 and the Genie TZ-50 mounted trailer booms stocked at Brooks, both offer an additional articulated jib, offering a greater range of motion to reach tricky spaces, safely. As an additional benefit, both models boast the ability to be set-up in under 40 seconds.

Forklifts & Telehandlers

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Unlike the lifts already covered, the following two machines allowing aerial lift, do not have platforms suitable for carrying personnel. Instead, their lift is used to move material loads to and from elevated places.

Forklifts are essential machines for moving and distributing products around workshops, factories, and yards. Having a smaller footprint than that of a telehandler, they’re ideal in these settings where manoeuvrability in compact areas is essential.

With forks positioned at the front of the vehicle, they lift material vertically along their track, reaching a maximum height of approximately 22ft. Their forks do not allow for movement beyond the track height or in any other direction, which hinders their functionality outside of their height range, or anywhere not directly accessible from their front.

Where telehandlers are equipped with a boom that can extend both vertically and horizontally, allowing them to move material without the need to move their carriage, forklifts require whole-vehicle movement to move their material load. In saying this, forklifts’ generally small size and rear-wheeled steering allow them to take sharp turns and manoeuvre in restricted areas, efficiently.

Telehandlers’ fundamental design make them incredibly stable on sloped outdoor and rugged terrain and when moving loads in places unreachable with a conventional forklift. Due to their boom, telehandlers are greatly effective when such tasks would otherwise require a crane, which can be both cost ineffective and time consuming to set up and operate. Such uses are inclusive of moving palletised cargo from within a trailer, and to place loads on rooftops and other high places, or when outdoors. At Brooks, their maximum reach is approximately 31.5ft, with their maximum horizontal ability, roughly 17.4ft.

Additional Considerations

When selecting your aerial lift, there are some additional considerations that can increase productivity and functionality of the machine. Knowing how much equipment will be loaded on and how many people are likely to be in the basket at one time, are important factors when selecting your equipment. If you know these requirements are going to change, consider hiring your aerial lift rather than purchasing one outright. Alternatively, there are also various attachments on the market, which can make your machine more versatile; platforms can often be swapped out for one or two-person capacities, tool carriers are available for boom baskets, and forklift boom attachments can transform the machine into a multi-functioning device.

Your budget will ultimately impact these decisions too, with a wide consensus among the construction community, agreeing that hiring often equates to a far less expensive transaction than buying, unless you’re using the machine extremely frequently. Depending on your needs, Brook Hire and Brooks Access have a wide selection of aerial lifts for both hire and purchase, suitable for any application.

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