Construction employees and other industrial workers have been using aerial lifts to build tall buildings and objects for thousands of years. To better understand the use of aerial lifts over the years, let’s examine the history behind these machines.
History of Scissor Lifts
The first hydraulic lifts were produced in 1845. They were propelled by a steam engine and had many limitations. In 1880, the electric lift was invented, and the use of aerial lifts took off.
Today, there are two basic kinds of aerial lifts: scissor lifts and boom lifts. Also known as aerial work platforms (AWPs), both types are designed to provide temporary access at heights. Both can also be used for a variety of jobs and work sites. However, there are three main differences that determine when and where boom and scissor lifts can be used:
Boom lifts can move vertically and horizontally. Scissor lifts can only go up and down.
2. Platform Size
Boom lifts tend to have smaller work platforms or buckets. Scissor lifts generally have larger work platforms.
Boom lifts can reach greater heights than scissor lifts. In fact, the tallest boom lifts can achieve work heights approaching 200 ft. in the air. The tallest scissor lift in the world can achieve barely more than half that height.
A Closer Look at the World’s Tallest Scissor Lift
In 1963, Charles Larson received a U.S. patent to develop a scissor lift. However, the first scissor lift didn’t reach the market until the early 1970s, and it was an instant hit. Since then, the demand for scissor lifts has continued to grow. Over the years, scissor lifts grew larger, taller, more robust, and safer. These days, they are considered indispensable tools for construction, warehousing, building maintenance, and many industrial applications.
There are two types of scissor lifts: electric and internal combustion (IC). The electric engine is powered by a battery, and it is mostly used indoors. IC scissor lifts can run on gas or diesel. Also called “rough terrain” scissor lifts, they are designed for outdoor use and uneven surfaces. Some dual-fuel models can work outdoors and indoors. They use gas for outdoor work and emission-free propane for indoor jobs.
Scissor lifts started out with low working heights. Early on, it was rare to see a scissor lift that could go higher than 20 ft. Then two things happened: the technology and design of scissor lift improved, and stronger and more stable scissor lifts were developed and released. This, in turn, made scissor lifts safer than ever before. Companies began using scissor lifts for many different jobs. As the demand for scissor lifts grew, taller machines were produced. Now, scissor lifts with working heights of 30 to 50 ft. are not common.
Currently, the tallest scissor lift in the world is the PB S370-24 ES 4×4. This impressive lift has a max working height of approximately 123 ft. This makes it a popular choice for:
– Building facade work
– Working on power plants and large warehousing projects
– General construction
– Cladding (the application of one material over another to provide a skin or layer)
– Architectural glazing
The PB S370-24-ES has many other useful features as well. It has a safe working load capacity of more than 1,650 lbs., and is it environmentally friendly and emission-free. The scissor lift also offers four-wheel drive, two-axle steering, a differential lock, and a fully automated support system.
PB has introduced the PB S370-24-ES, but the company has not made the scissor lift generally available or released details about its price. Nonetheless, the price of this scissor lift may be hefty, due to the fact that the machine can reach higher than all other scissor lifts.
Medium-Height Scissor Lifts
Another reason early scissor lifts offered minimal working height was they were designed for indoor jobs. As they became sturdier and safer, they began to be used in more outside jobs. Since outside jobs can often require working higher up, the demand for taller scissor lifts continues to increase. Now, more scissor lifts are being built to work at around 40 to 50 feet. The following may not be among the tallest scissor lifts in the world. But sometimes you don’t need to go 100 up in the air to get the job done.
Three popular scissor lifts at medium heights include:
-Working height of 88.5 ft.
-Lift capacity of 2,200 lbs.
-Automatic leveling system balances out unevenness of the ground
-Popular with façade and installation jobs
-Working height of 45 ft.
-Lift capacity of 500 lbs.
-Drivable at full height
-Tight turning radius makes it good for indoor work
-Working height of 56 ft.
-Designed for rough terrain
-Dual fuel engine and four-wheel drive
What Is the Tallest Boom Lift?
The working heights of today’s scissor lifts are remarkable. However, they don’t come close to matching the heights of the tallest boom lifts on the market. The title of “world’s tallest boom lift” belongs to the JLG Industries Model 1850SJ Ultra Boom. This remarkable boom has a top working height of 185 feet – about the size of a 19-story building. Even more amazing, it offers three million cubic feet of reachable space.
Height isn’t the only feature of the 1850 SJ Ultra Boom. It also offers performance to match. Despite being the tallest boom lift, it can extend from the ground to full height in less than five minutes. It includes a telescopic jib that extends and retracts. The platform can hold up to 1,000 lbs. And the boom comes with an LCD platform display to enhance safety and productivity. For example, the graphic display shows the operator’s position in the work envelope to aid in positioning. Engine status, fuel levels, service codes and other messages assist with operation and troubleshooting.
The boom’s ability to telescope into and around structures makes it an ideal choice for steel erection and energy-related construction in:
– Petrochemical applications
– Power generation and wind plants
– Stadium, convention center, and theater construction
– Entertainment and studio-related applications
What Is the Tallest Genie Lift?
From a height standpoint, the Genie® SX-180 Boom Lift comes in a close second to the 1850 SJ Ultra Boom. It delivers 180 ft. of vertical reach and 80 ft. of horizontal outreach. This creates a large working envelope that other boom lifts can’t approach.
The large 7-ft. x 3-ft. platform can hold up to 750 lbs. It automatically remains level as the boom moves. The lift can be driven even when it is fully telescoped, which reduces downtime on the job. You can find the tallest Genie lift hard at work in many industries:
– Gas and oil refineries
– Chemical maintenance
– Large utilities
Is Scissor Lift and Boom Lift Safety Training and Certification Necessary?
When you have people working 60 ft. or more above the ground, training becomes more important than ever. So why not go with the experts at AerialLiftCertification.com?
ALC offers comprehensive training that teaches workers how to safely operate aerial lifts at all heights. With our training, your workers can learn to operate scissor lifts, boom lifts, and other types of aerial lifts, regardless of size. They can also gain the insights they need to limit the risk of aerial lift falls and other accidents.
Sign Up for Aerial Lift Safety Training from ALC
ALC offers fast, affordable, and OSHA-compliant aerial lift safety training. Workers can take the online classes wherever they have internet access. Plus, they can print their certification card as soon as they pass the exam.
To learn more or to enroll your workers in our aerial lift safety training program, please contact us online or call us today at (888) 278-8896.