Choosing the Right Type of Access Platform Access equipment is known by many different names and so can become quite confusing. Some of the common names used are
MEWP - Mobile Elevated Work Platforms
There are more names than that but I don't want to overload you with irrelevant information. There are main types you should be aware of and these are detailed below.
Boom Lifts Boom lifts or cherry pickers as they are often referred to, come in two distict types articulated booms and telescopic booms.
Articulated booms give you the greatest flexibility when it comes to accessing a work area. This type of access platform is a series of jointed metal arms that allow you to work over & around obstructions such as canopies and trees. Articulated booms generally have lifting heights ranging from 10m - 41m (34ft - 135ft) and range in carrying capacity from about 180kgs - 272kg.
Telescopic booms, sometimes referred to as straight booms or stick booms take their name from the fact that the mast sections used to give you the height you need are housed inside the previous mast section, like a telecope. This means that they extend in a straight line. Telescopic booms lend themselves to situations where you don't need to go up and then over obstacles. Telescopic booms are favoured by steel erectors due to this fact and the fact that you get a faster rising time from a telescopic boom than you do an articulated boom. Telescopic booms come in with very similiar lifting capacity and lift height starts from 12m (40ft) and go up to about 41m (135ft).
Scissor lifts are very different to the boom lifts available and other access equipment; the major difference with a scissor lift is that it only extends vertically which means you have to be able to get right along side or under the work area and you don't have the ability to reach over obstacles. That said, with scissor lifts you can achieve a much larger lifting capacity and platform area to work with, again a major difference.
Slab scissor lifts are smaller electic models used exclusively on level ground such as concrete or tarmac and are predominantly used inside for maintenance of facilities or for retrieving items from racking. Scissor lifts are occasionally used outside for maintenance on warehouses and factories. Normally a slab scissor wil be fitted with none marking, white rubber wheels. Generally slab scissor lifts range from 4m - 10m (15ft - 32ft) and their lift capacity ranges from 227kg - 550kg.
Rough Terrain Scissor Lifts
Rough Terrain Scissor Lifts generally have diesel engines and come with rough terrain tyres on, although some manufacturer's offer the option of having a bi-energy machine or dual fuel as it is sometimes called - this basically means you can run the machines functions using either batteries or engine, which can give you that extra flexibility your looking for. Rough terrain scissor lifts are most often found being used on construction sites and agricultural settings where there is a need for covering a lot of ground that isn't hard standing; due to their size they are seldom seen in an indoor enviroment. You will often see platform heights ranging from 12m - 18m (32ft - 60ft) for rough terrain scissor lifts and their lifting capacity is phenomenal with some able to carry over 1,000kgs.
Personnel Lifts or MEWPs which ever term you prefer, are the usually most cost effective machines for many businesses. They are compact and in comparison very light weight machines, with some models easily loaded and unloaded by one person. The platform heights generally seen for MEWPs/personnel lifts range from 3.5m - 12m (12ft - 40ft and lifting capacity can range from 110kgs - 227 kgs
Push Around MEWPs
Personnel lifts are designed to be used by one person and are light weight and compact; this allows them access into areas that other types of access platforms just can't get to, many can even be trasported around a building using a passenger lift. The real benefit for you is that with a push around MEWP there isn't a steep learning curve, they are very straight forward to use - position yourself under or along side the work area put down the stabilisers or outriggers and then up you go, with only a two button action. So if you are looking for a piece of equipment to change light bulbs or access airconditioning or conduits these machines can be a real boon.
There are a range of smaller powered personnel lifts for use on larger sites or heavy usage applications, such as warehouse work or archive storage or even ongoing repairs to equipment/machines you have on site for production purposes. Some of these MEWPs offer you the ability to achieve a small amount of out reach for working over assembly lines and production equipment and also allow you to drive whilst elevated so as to do away with the need of repeatedly having to go up and down in the MEWP .
In the next part of my guide to access equipment we will discuss some of the features available to you on the access platform you buy.
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