Buyer’s Guide for Industrial Lifts: Boom Lifts, Scissor Lifts, and Telehandlers

Buyer’s Guide for Industrial Lifts: Boom Lifts, Scissor Lifts, and Telehandlers

Buyers Guide for Industrial Lifts

Tired of renting industrial lifts?

There is no substitute for a lift when you need to get your team where the project is. Far safer than ladders and much faster than scaffolding, lifts are more stable and versatile than any other option.

Working on your own schedule for as long as you need the equipment and avoiding extra fees are only two of the many benefits to owning a boom lift, scissor lift or telehandler. Most lifts are simple to operate, and can be financed less expensively than you may realize.

But just because you happen to see a telehandler or a scissor lift for sale, you shouldn’t assume it’s your best option. Learn more about boom lifts, scissor lifts and telehandlers, and which one will help you reach your goals.

What Is a Boom Lift?

Boom lifts are the most versatile of the industrial lifts. Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, you’ll see these “cherry pickers” or “man lifts,” as they are sometimes called, wherever serious work is being done overhead. Like all industrial lifts, boom lifts come in a variety of sizes, depending on what you need to reach and where you’ll be working.

The most distinctive feature of this lift is its extending arm, which ends in a basket. This arm, or “boom,” generally extends from 30-180 feet, depending on the size of your lift, and can swing in wide arcs or a full 360 degrees. Most boom lifts swivel on their bases, and many offer swiveling baskets for greater accessibility to project space. The operator in the basket controls every motion of the lift.

Boom lifts are designed to lift people, not material. If you need to lift a pallet of shingles or HVAC ducting to the third story, you’ll need a telehandler. But if you need to move workers into a position to accomplish their tasks, nothing beats a boom lift.

The greatest benefit of this style of industrial lift is its lateral motion. Scissor lifts have limited mobility, and are safest to use indoors. Telehandlers are not designed to lift workers, and must be operated from the ground. Boom lifts, however, can be positioned by the operator in the basket to reach up, down, left, right, back or forth, and everywhere in between.

Given their range of motion and versatility, boom lifts cost significantly more than scissor lifts, but generally less than telehandlers. Whether you’re trimming trees or adjusting stage lights, there’s a boom lift to get you where you need to be. When you shop for a boom lift, look for top brands with reliable histories and strong reputations. A JLG or Genie boom lift should serve you well for years.

Types of Boom Lifts

How to Buy a Boom Lift

Self-Driving Boom Lifts

Self-driving boom lifts are wheeled machines that an operator drives from the basket. They are generally four wheel drive, and usually best suited for outdoor work. With heavy, stable bases and extreme maneuverability, these lifts are commonly used in construction and plant and industry maintenance.

These are the largest boom lifts, accommodating several workers or light equipment and materials in the basket. This style of lift must be transported from one job site to another on a trailer, and can weigh as much as a small tractor or other heavy equipment.

Some self-driving boom lifts are compact tracked machines, stabilized by outriggers instead of wheels. These offer more storage options, but are more difficult to transport.

Towable Boom Lifts

Towable boom lifts are cheaper and lighter than self-driving lifts of comparable reach because they don’t require a drive engine or chassis. Towable lifts are ideal for companies that move from job to job and aren’t equipped with trailer rigs. Any suitably rated truck with a hitch can tow this style of lift.

Unlike self driving lifts, towable boom lifts are set-it-and-forget-it. Once in place, small base adjustments are impossible without lowering the boom and, in some cases, re-hitching the lift to your truck. Towable lifts are practical and affordable options for most applications.

Telescoping Booms

Telescoping booms gain their operating height by extending straight out from a central boom mast. This makes the lift ride smooth and stable, and allows workers to reach heights of close to 200 feet. Telescoping booms often require less maintenance than other boom styles.

Articulating Booms

Instead of telescoping straight out, the booms on these lifts unfold in layers to their operating height. This allows for more basket maneuverability without needing to drive the machine to gain a better position. This style of boom lift is generally more compact and easier to transport. Articulating boom lifts sacrifice height for their articulation, so they will not reach as high as telescoping lifts.

Boom Lift Applications

Use boom lifts for:

o Commercial and residential construction
o Plant maintenance
o Sign installation and maintenance
o Stadium, airport and other public space maintenance
o Commercial painting, pressure washing and sandblasting
o Tree trimming
o Bridge and overpass inspection

Before You Buy a Boom Lift

Know exactly how high you need to go, and how much mobility you’ll need to get there. Ensure that basket size and weight capacity is sufficient for your workers and tools.

Inspect a self-driving boom lift as you would a tractor or skid loader: engine or motor wear and function, hydraulics, emission, tire wear, etc. Know how you will transport the lift, and how heavy it can be. Ensure that booms designed for indoor use have the right power source.

For towable boom lifts, inspect the hitch and make sure you have a compatible towing setup. Be sure that brake and signal lights are functioning. Check the wear of the smaller guide wheel.

For this and all other lifts, be certain that you understand the mechanics of the lifting mechanism and its regular maintenance requirements. Used equipment must be bought from a trusted dealer with lift service experience. Consider well-known brands like Genie or JLG.

What Is a Scissor Lift?

Where to buy a scissor lift

Scissor lifts offer the greatest stability of any industrial lift. Sturdy, heavy bases serve as reliable anchors, allowing the operator to drive the lift even while extended. These lifts are designed to be mobile, elevated work platforms, not material handlers.

The scissor lift earns its name from its extension mechanism, which opens vertically, accordion-style, between the base and the work platform. These lifts are self-driving with operator controls on the platform. The entire machine doesn’t extend beyond the footprint of the base, making scissor lifts easy to store. The platform is usually large enough for more than one person to work in safely.

Because the base of each lift is only as wide as the scissor lift table, or work platform, its reach does not match boom lifts or telehandlers. Expect a maximum reach of about 50 feet, even for the largest models, like the GA™-4390 RT Genie scissor lift.

What scissor lifts lose in height they make up for in strength and stability. A large lift will handle up to about 1500 pounds, even on a 40% grade. In other words: An entire work crew could ride up to survey a situation, receive instructions or complete a project. Set up is as simple as parking beneath your work area. Scissor lifts easily allow operators to move from one area to the next quickly and safely, even while partially extended.

When used responsibly, scissor lifts are the safest industrial lifts. It’s important for workers to feel safe while they are on a job. People who are distracted by worry make mistakes that can lead to injuries. Scissor lifts offer a solid working platform for workers that won’t bounce or sway like boom lifts and telehandlers can.

Scissor lifts perform especially well in tight spaces where close, careful maneuverability is necessary. Tight wheel bases and widths as narrow as two and a half feet make them ideal for indoor projects, tight constructions sites and urban use.

Scissor Lift Applications

Use scissor lifts for:

o Electrical and HVAC installation and repair
o Theater, church, museum and convention center setup and maintenance
o Warehouse and stadium maintenance
o Aircraft and ship manufacturing
o Commercial and residential painting, pressure washing and sand blasting
o Coaching sports and directing marching bands during practice

Types of Scissor Lifts

Outdoor

Scissor lifts designed for outdoor use feature four-wheel-drive and rugged tires. This style of lift has increased ground clearance and is typically transported between worksites on a trailer. Often these have stabilizers that automatically level your lift before the machine will allow you to rise to working height.

Outdoor scissor lifts are gas or diesel powered. Even with stability aids like leveling struts, these work best on fairly level surfaces. Most lifts will not fully extend if the base cannot be brought to a level or almost level setting.

Indoor

For indoor use, scissor lifts use non-marking rubber tires. This style of scissor lift often has an additional stabilizer built into the base. This stabilizer drops down to support the wheels when the lift rises. Scissor lifts used indoors will get people where they need to be to work, but will not replace forklifts or other material handlers.

Due to noise and emissions considerations, most indoor scissor lifts are rechargeable electric or hybrid powered.

Before You Buy a Scissor Lift

Consider the platform size and weight capacity you need, as well as the ground or floor space you have to maneuver in. Closely inspect the extension assembly, control panel and stabilizers for signs of damage.

For indoor equipment, weight the cost of recharging electric or hybrid models. For outdoor equipment, consider the tire wear, how the lift has been stored and how you’ll transport it.

Safety is always an issue when buying used equipment. Only buy from a trusted source that can explain the machine’s service history. Many workers prefer Genie scissor lifts over other brands for their reliability and simple maintenance.

What Is a Telehandler?

when buying a telehandler or forklift

Telehandlers are most often used as rough terrain forklifts for outdoor industrial or construction projects. They feature large wheels on heavy chassis with an operator’s cab and full driving functions. The lifting is performed by a thick telescoping boom, able to reach up to about 50 feet on many models.

Telehandlers are the big brothers of other industrial lifts. These range in size from smaller 1,500 pound capacity lifts to massive machines able to carry 10,000 pounds. Regardless of its size, a telehandler needs ample open space to maneuver and line up its boom.

Unlike boom lifts and scissor lifts, telehandlers are operated from their cabs, which can be simply caged, or closed and climate controlled. They are entirely controlled from the ground. The boom does not swivel, so the machine must be lined up properly using the wheels. Dual-axle steering allows all four wheels to turn, resulting in an incredibly tight turn radius.

The forklift forks at the end of the boom also adjust to swivel, tilt or slide material into position. In addition to forks, telehandlers can use a variety of attachments, including platforms for multiple people to work from. The disadvantage of working from a telehandler platform is that the workers cannot adjust their positions like they can in other industrial lifts.

Telehandler Applications

Use telehandlers with forks for:How to check an industrial machine before you buy
o Lifting pallets of material for commercial and residential construction
o Lumber yard work
o Outdoor warehouse and plant work

Use telehandlers with platform attachments for:
o Commercial and residential construction
o Bridge and overpass construction, inspection and maintenance
o Commercial painting, pressure washing and sand blasting

Use telehandlers with bucket attachments for:
o Light scooping and loading
o Snow plowing

Use telehandlers with hook or tackle attachments for:
o Lifting roof trusses
o Shifting containers
o Other light or medium crane work

Before You Buy a Telehandler

Most importantly, know what you’ll be using the machine for and what size you’ll need. Don’t buy anything too small to do the job or too large for you to transport from one work site to the next.

Because telehandlers are full-duty heavy equipment, you’ll need to check everything you would if you were buying a backhoe or a tractor: engine, powertrain, exhaust, hydraulics, electric functions, ignition, etc. Damaged or badly-repaired telehandlers are not safe to operate!

Only buy from a trusted source with expertise in industrial lifts, like at Access Lift Equipment, Inc. Purchase reputable brands like Lull, Genie, SkyTrak or JLG. Lastly, inspect the fork bracket assembly for stress or damage, and inquire about optional attachment accessories.

Where to Buy Your Industrial Lift

There are many one-stop-shops dealing in constructions or industrial equipment. They’ll walk you past all manner of machinery and heavy equipment before showing you that they have a boom lift for sale, or a single telehandler for sale.

Access Lift Equipment, Inc. was founded in 2010 by industrial lift professionals. Over 15 years spent servicing and selling every type of lift gives us the expertise you want when you purchase something that has to be reliable and safe. Access mechanics inspect and service every lift before it’s sold, and have operated each lift in our 6-acre yard.

If you have questions, Access Lift Equipment has the answers you’re looking for, and can coach you on which lift is right for your business. You’ll find the best prices and up to 100% financing at fixed rates for as long as five years.

Wherever your project takes you, there’s a lift that can get you there. Contact Access Lift Equipment, Inc. today.

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