Boom lifts are one of the most versatile types of equipment you can use. Also known as AWPs, aerial devices, elevating work platforms, and EWPs, boom lifts are aerial work platforms that are used in a variety of industries. From construction and utilities to shipping and storage, boom lifts can be used in many ways to accomplish tasks safely and efficiently.
These aerial work platforms are used to reach elevated areas that would otherwise not be accessible. Although many other types of equipment, such as scissor lifts, also allow for elevated work, boom lifts are considered to be the most adaptable and convenient way to get various jobs done.
Boom lifts are easy to maneuver; the boom can move the work platform both vertically and horizontally to reach desired areas, even snaking around corners when necessary. Plus, boom lifts are incredibly sturdy, which is important both for safety purposes and for completing detailed work successfully. Specialized tools, equipment, and attachments can make boom lifts versatile machines. Many models have built-in generators and electrical outlets on the platforms for using tools and machinery.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the history of boom lifts, the type of boom lifts available, how to choose the best model for a job, and safety tips for using a boom lift. In addition, this article will compare the benefits of renting vs. owning so that you can make the smart choice for your business.
The History of Boom Lifts
Canadian Walter E. Thornton-Trump invented the boom lift in the 1950s to make working in high places and other inaccessible spots easier. He called it the Giraffe, but cherry picker became the most common term for the equipment, especially since it was used so often in orchards.
By the 1960s, Thornton-Trump had an official patent for his creation. In his patent documentation, the boom lift is described as a “power-operated boom structure” and “lifting apparatus for electric-line and construction workers.” This description reflected the way in which the uses for the cherry picker had begun to expand beyond rural and agricultural tasks to more urban necessities. One important use developed during this period was the addition of boom lifts to fire engines in the United States, creating a safer and more effective way of performing rescues and putting out fires in tall structures.
Before the invention of the boom lift, scaffolding or ladders were used to reach high places. While these devices were satisfactory in certain circumstances, many safety issues needed to be addressed. Scaffolding and ladders weren’t able to access work areas that were especially high, above uneven ground, or in narrow spaces. When the boom lift was created by Thornton-Trump, most of these ongoing issues were resolved, and many businesses were able to flourish with the help of this machinery.
The Types of Boom Lifts Available
Two main types of boom lifts exist: articulating and telescoping. With articulating boom lifts, the arm has segmented parts that can be used to snake around aerial obstacles. This type of boom lift is best applied in hard-to-reach areas, such as narrow spaces and buildings with protruding structures or curved facades.
A telescoping boom lift, however, has a single arm that can be extended to stretch across a wide area. This extension is particularly helpful for reaching tall structures or work areas safely, such as utility work or construction on a multi-story building.
Besides these two main boom lift options, you can also choose a boom lift according to specific features needed to complete a job such as the following:
How many people will be on the lift? Be sure to account for the weight of equipment, tools, and other items that you’ll transport, such as building materials.
What height must your boom lift be able to reach? At BigRentz, you can find a variety of boom lifts that range from a 30-foot cherry picker to a 180-foot straight-mast boom lift.
Consider the number of people along with any tools, materials, or other items that you need to transport safely.
Boom lifts are available as electric, diesel, or gas and propane equipment. Each option has various benefits and drawbacks.
Choosing the Best Boom Lift for a Job
When contemplating which type of boom lift is best for the job at hand, consider the following areas:
For indoor work, electric boom lifts are preferred due to quieter operation and zero emissions. Diesel boom lifts are great for heavy-duty outdoor work, while dual-fuel (gas and propane) motors can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Consider the power required for rough terrain. In most cases, a diesel boom lift is recommended for this type of work. In addition, you need an adequately sized boom truck that will remain stable while positioned on uneven ground.
Bigger is not always better when it comes to boom lifts. Consider whether the weight of a boom lift will cause the truck to get stuck in mud or damage driveways or flooring.
Measure all areas carefully before choosing which boom lift to use. The truck may need to fit through entryways, spaces between buildings, or other narrow areas to get work done.
Choosing the right boom lift is essential for your safety as well as the safety of an entire crew. While boom lifts can be used to safely complete aerial tasks, plenty of potential dangers need to be carefully monitored while the machinery is being used.
Always check for aerial obstacles before and while using a boom lift. Power lines and low roofs can cause potential hazards for workers on a platform. You’ll also want to consider weather conditions before putting a boom lift into action. Avoid high winds, lightning, thunderstorms, ice, snow, and other hazardous conditions. Make sure you move the boom lift to sheltered locations when necessary to prevent accidents related to severe weather.
When preparing workers to go up in the lift, carefully check the platform to ensure all safety precautions are being followed. Look for sturdy guard rails present on all sides of the platform. Require workers to use harnesses and restraining belts to prevent accidental falls.
You’ll need to follow federal regulations set for worker safety when using a boom lift. Both the lift operator and the workers should be properly trained before operating or working on the lift. In addition, be sure to follow federal guidelines for regular safety inspections of all aerial lift equipment.
Finally, check local building codes and regulations before choosing a boom lift. You’ll want to make sure you use your lift properly and follow all local laws when working with this type of equipment.
Why Renting Is More Economical
Now that you know more about boom lifts, you may be eager to use one for your own projects. However, you’ll want to consider whether renting would be a more economical choice compared to buying a boom lift.
In most cases, renting is preferable due to a number of contributing factors. First, renting offers lower expenses since you don’t have the cost of purchasing the equipment outright or paying for repairs, maintenance, and storage.
You’ll also get included insurance and easy transportation when you rent from BigRentz. You won’t need to deal with loans, and you don’t have to worry about the risky investment of leasing a lift or buying one outright. By paying only for the days on which you’ll be using the lift, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of a year when compared with the cost of owning the equipment itself.
Besides the financial factors, renting also offers another major benefit: flexibility. When you rent a boom lift instead of buying one, you have access to a full fleet of machinery. Rather than limiting yourself to one boom lift, renting allows you to use only the specific model necessary for the work you need to do. You can rent larger or smaller boom lifts, electric or diesel boom lifts, and other lift models as needed to get equipment designed to tackle the task at hand. This flexibility allows you to take on a variety of jobs instead of only the ones which would limit you to doing if you had purchased a specific boom lift model.
Choosing a boom lift for a project is an important task. If you use the wrong size or type of boom lift, you could cause significant damage, injure one or more of your workers, be unable to complete your task on schedule, and increase your project’s costs. But with the right boom lift on your job site, you can complete your projects efficiently, safely, and affordably.