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Types of EWP: scissor lift vs boom lift vs cherry picker

In the world of aerial work platforms, scissor lifts, boom lifts (including telescopic and knuckle boom lifts), and cherry pickers are commonly used for various tasks requiring elevation. Each type of lift has unique features, advantages, and best-use scenarios. Each one requires EWP training to use safely and effectively.

Scissor Lifts

Overview

A scissor lift is a type of mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) that provides vertical elevation only. It is characterized by its crisscrossing metal supports, which extend and retract to raise and lower the platform, directly above its base. Scissor lifts typically offer a larger platform area compared to other aerial lifts. However, they only lift up and down and, with the exception of an extending work platform on some models, don’t offer any horizontal movement, other than to move the base closer or further away.

Advantages

  • Stability: The wide base and robust structure of scissor lifts provide excellent stability, making them safe for tasks requiring a steady platform.
  • Larger platform: The spacious platform can accommodate multiple workers and tools, making it ideal for tasks that require teamwork and equipment.
  • Simple operation: Scissor lifts are straightforward to operate, with controls that are easy to learn and use.
  • Cheaper to buy: Scissor lifts are much cheaper than boom lifts.
  • Small footprint for storage: because the platform only goes up and down, it doesn’t need to have such a big base as a boom lift; it can achieve lateral stability with outriggers, but many models do away with this.
  • More manoeuvrable: because they are smaller than boom lifts, they are more manoeuvrable in narrow or tight areas. The boom is the issue with a boom lift.

Best gor

  1. Construction and maintenance: Scissor lifts are ideal for tasks such as installing electrical wiring, plumbing, plasterboard, and ceiling work. Their stability and large platforms allow workers to move freely and handle materials effectively.
  2. Warehousing: In warehouses, scissor lifts are used for inventory management, stacking, and accessing high shelves.
  3. Facility management: Scissor lifts are useful for routine maintenance tasks, including changing light bulbs, cleaning, updating signage, and painting within and outside buildings.

Boom lifts

Overview

Self-propelled boom lifts come in two primary types: telescopic (straight) boom lifts and articulated (knuckle) boom lifts. They provide both vertical and horizontal reach, making them versatile for accessing hard-to-reach areas.

Telescopic boom lift advantages

  • Extended Reach: Telescopic boom lifts offer a significant horizontal reach, ideal for accessing areas that are far from the base of the lift.
  • Height: These lifts can reach considerable heights, making them suitable for high-rise tasks.

Best for

  1. Construction: Telescopic boom lifts are perfect for high-rise construction projects, allowing workers to reach upper floors and exterior facades.
  2. Bridge inspection and maintenance: The extended reach makes them suitable for inspecting and maintaining bridges and other large structures.
  3. Outdoor work: These lifts are ideal for tasks in open spaces where maximum reach is necessary, such as tree trimming and exterior building maintenance.

Articulated boom lifts (knuckle boom lifts) advantages

  • Manoeuvrability: The articulated design allows the lift to navigate around obstacles and reach confined spaces.
  • Versatility: Knuckle boom lifts can be used in various environments due to their ability to extend and bend.

Best for

  1. Urban maintenance: Articulated boom lifts are excellent for tasks in urban environments, such as streetlight maintenance and building inspections, where obstacles like trees and traffic need to be navigated.
  2. Industrial sites: These lifts are ideal for maintenance in industrial facilities, including accessing machinery and infrastructure in complex settings. They are often much more capable on rough surfaces than scissor lifts.
  3. Film and photography: The precise positioning capabilities make knuckle boom lifts suitable for film crews needing to capture shots from different angles.
Cherry picker being towed by a car

Cherry pickers

Overview

Cherry picker is a colloquial term often used interchangeably with boom lifts, especially articulated boom lifts. Originally, cherry pickers were designed for orchard workers to pick fruit from trees, but their use has expanded significantly. Nowadays, a cherry picker is likely to be a knuckle boom lift mounted on a trailer which can be towed, but you may still see it being used to refer to a self-propelled boom lift.

Advantages

  • Flexible use: Cherry pickers can be mounted on trucks or trailers, providing mobility and flexibility for various tasks. They can be quickly moved from site-to-site, as opposed to the larger boom lifts which either have to be driven at slow speed, or transported on a flat-deck truck.
  • Height and reach: Like boom lifts, cherry pickers offer significant height and reach, making them suitable for elevated tasks.
  • Weight: Cherry pickers are lighter than larger boom lifts, meaning they can be used on surfaces at risk of cracking or being damaged under the weight of a boom lift.

Best for

  1. Orchard work: True to their name, cherry pickers are still used in orchards for fruit picking and tree maintenance.
  2. Utility work: They are commonly used by utility workers to access power lines, streetlights, and other elevated infrastructure.
  3. Event setup: Cherry pickers are useful for setting up large events, including installing lighting and decorations at height.

Comparative analysis

Scissor Lifts vs. Boom Lifts

  • Reach: Scissor lifts provide vertical reach, while boom lifts offer both vertical and horizontal reach. Boom lifts are preferred when the job requires access to awkward or distant areas.
  • Platform size: Scissor lifts typically have larger platforms, making them ideal for jobs requiring multiple workers and equipment. Boom lifts have smaller platforms but greater maneuverability.
  • Stability: Scissor lifts are more stable due to only lifting up and down. They also tend to be able to lift more than a boom lift. Boom lifts, while less stable, provide versatility in reach and positioning.

Boom Lifts vs. Cherry Pickers

  • Application: Boom lifts are more commonly used in construction, maintenance, and industrial settings. Cherry pickers are often used for specific tasks like fruit picking, utility maintenance, and event setup.

Understanding the differences between scissor lifts, boom lifts, and cherry pickers is essential for selecting the right equipment for the job. Scissor lifts provide stability and a large platform for vertical tasks, making them ideal for construction and maintenance. Boom lifts, including telescopic and articulated types, offer extended reach and maneuverability, suitable for high-rise construction, industrial maintenance, and urban tasks. Cherry pickers, while often synonymous with boom lifts, are versatile and mobile, used in orchards, utility work, and event setups. Choosing the appropriate lift ensures efficiency, safety, and effectiveness in various elevated work scenarios.

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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

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