Guide to Renting Aerial Lift Equipment

Heavy Construction

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Renting a lift is best for companies that do not use lifts on a regular basis or for jobs that would cost a fortune to transport your fleet to. If equipment is collecting dust instead of getting used, its value is depreciating. Rental fees can be deducted as a business expense and give you immediate access to using the latest, most durable models. Even if you are considering purchasing equipment in the future, renting gives you the opportunity to try a few different models and decide what you like best. In the short term, rather than spending thousands, you could get away with only spending hundreds ─ a much more affordable option.

Choosing the best aerial work platform rental for the job may seem overwhelming, especially if you have not rented a piece of equipment for this type of job before. The good news is you can get a pretty good idea of what you need by taking a closer look at the job site you will be working on. We’ve pulled together a guide to renting lift equipment with some of the most important factors you need to consider before you decide which aerial lift will be best for you.

Height

Obviously if you are looking into renting temporary aerial equipment, you are going to be working on a job that requires some additional height. This may seem pretty self-explanatory ─ how much height do you need to reach the area you are working on? Yes, you will need to calculate that number, but it’s important to note that when you’re renting lifts, there are two kinds of height that are used ─ and confusing the two can be very detrimental.

Platform height is the measurement of vertical distance from the ground the piece of equipment is sitting on — underneath the wheels — to the platform the worker would stand on. It may be given in a range, or simply a maximum platform height. Regardless, you will know how high from the ground that platform will raise.

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Some rental companies use working height instead, which is usually about six feet higher than the platform height. Working height takes into consideration a person about six feet tall standing on the platform. It’s important to know the difference when you’re searching for an aerial work platform rental because you may be looking into two models and want to make sure they are comparable. You also don’t want to end up mistaking working height for platform height, as that could leave you several feet short from the area you need to reach.

Type

Chances are you know you need an aerial lift, which is a great start, but do you know all the temporary aerial equipment that is available to rent? For example, you may wonder: What is a scissor lift? What is a boom lift? What other lifts are available? There is a variety, and the type of equipment you need depends on a few different factors.

03 Type

Scissor lifts are great for moving several people and/or big pieces of equipment straight utly up and down, so if you can’t get directly underneath the area you need to work on, or if there are any obstacles you may need to maneuver over or around on the job site, a scissor lift won’t be a good fit for you ─ you’ll probably be looking for a boom lift.

Boom lifts have turntables at the base that allow them to move in a full circle. Heights range from about 35 to 120 feet. They have smaller platforms as scissor lifts and come in two different types ─ telescopic and articulated. Telescopic boom lifts have one straight arm that extends and contracts based on the reach you need. These lifts can access areas directly above and at a direct angle. An articulated boom lift works best for areas that require navigating around obstacles to reach. The arm on the articulated lift bends, kind of, like a finger does — it’s also sometimes called a knuckle lift — making it an ideal choice for a job that is hard to reach.

If your primary goal is to move equipment or supplies from point A to point B, a forklift might be your most efficient option. If the job is too much for a traditional forklift, a telehandler can often be used to reach places and transport items that a forklift isn’t able to reach. Telehandlers have a variety of attachments that make them very versatile machines. In many jobs, they function as small cranes. In fact, a crane could be used for some of these jobs. However, a crane is much more expensive, so telehandlers are usually a much more affordable option for the jobs they can handle. They can also be used in conjunction with forklifts to lift and place loads.

Capacity

Of course, you’re focused on the type of equipment and how high it can lift you, but you may not be giving a lot of thought to capacity. Any time you’re lifting people and construction tools and equipment into the air, there’s going to be a limit on capacity ─ and for the safety of everyone involved, it needs to be calculated meticulously and followed carefully. You will need to have a list of the weights of all of the personnel, equipment and tools that will be on the aerial lift platform. Estimates may work in some cases, but having a precise number is ideal. You want to make sure you don’t push the capacity limit for any of the lifts.

In addition to having an actual capacity limit, there will likely also be a personnel limit, regardless of weight. So, even if the capacity is higher than what you need, be sure to check the personnel limit ─ you must be in compliance with both. This may mean that you need to rethink your work schedule ─ perhaps instead of doing a few different parts at once, you’ll need to split up time to ensure that the personnel limit is met. While it may be inconvenient, it’s worth the investment of time to ensure the safety of your employees.

Terrain

Now you have an idea of the type of lift that can reach the work area and hold all of the personnel and equipment that need to be lifted ─ but have you thought about the ground you’ll be working on? Shifting the focus back to the job site, the terrain you’re working on has a lot to do with what kind of lift you’re going to want. Construction sites come in a variety of terrains, and it’s important to make sure the aerial lifts you rent were made to have a firm foundation on the terrain you’re working on. A firm foundation on the ground is essential for a solid base to lift from. The last thing you want is for the equipment to slide when you have personnel and equipment in the air.

What kinds of things do you need to know when it comes to terrain? It’s not just the type of terrain the aerial lift will be on as it’s elevating, but also the terrain it will be traveling on to get there. Is it indoor or outdoor? Level or sloped? Will it be dry, wet or frozen? Are there any holes, debris or obstacles to navigate around? Will the terrain be affected by the status of construction? Will there be loose fill, or will it be close to excavations?

04 Terrain

If the terrain could be challenging ─ muddy or rocky ─ we recommend renting a lift with four-wheel drive or a crawler undercarriage. If there’s going to be a bunch of debris scattered across the site, consider a lift with higher ground clearance so it doesn’t get in the way. Don’t forget to pay attention to the tires, too ─ they don’t come in one-size fits all. Aerial lifts come with a variety of different tires ─ foam-filled, high-flotation, non-marking. Usually the name of the lift will include a reference to the terrain it’s meant for — i.e. “rough terrain.” In that case, you can assume it will include the tires needed to take on rough terrain, but it’s still worth asking what type of tires so you know what you have and to be sure, they will be able to handle the site you’re traveling and lifting from.

Power

Tires aren’t the only aspect of an aerial lift that doesn’t come in one-size fits all ─ the power source is the same way. Why does the power source for your aerial lift matter? It affects your bottom line.

You can choose from electric, diesel, propane or hybrid. If your job is indoors, you’re going to want electric ─ and you may be able to work with electric outside as well. Just make sure you have enough battery power to last eight to 10 hours and that you’ll have a consistent eight hours to recharge when the equipment isn’t being used. Often times generators are only on during the day, so for outdoor jobs, diesel, gas, duel fuel or hybrid are preferred to limit generator use.

Diesel provides the most power and is often needed for the largest lifts that are prepared to tackle rough terrain and increased weight capacity or reach.

If you have a shorter period of time, LP or propane power is ideal for outdoors because you can easily transport or store tanks to refuel ─ reducing downtime.

Hybrid-powered lifts are the most flexible, as they can be used indoors with electric power but then switched to a propane or diesel engine outdoors to increase power or eliminate the need for recharging downtime.

Features and Accessories

When you have determined what type of equipment, you’re going to need to get the job done, start thinking about the tools you’re going to be using. Aerial work platform rentals don’t all come with the same set of features. Chances are you’re going to want electrical outlets and airlines on the platform ─ and there are a variety of other optional features that can make your job easier.

For example, you could have a built-in generator and a power cable with lines for air and water running up the arm of the boom to the platform so you can power a variety of tools. With built-in features like that, you minimize the number of wires and hoses hanging over the side of the platform to the ground. Choose the features you think will best empower you to get the job done quickly and effectively, but don’t choose features that are so complex they could add time to your job as your team tries to learn how they work.

In addition to choosing features, there also may be accessories available for your aerial lift that can help ease the complexity of your job. Telehandlers, for example, have a variety of attachments that can be used depending on what type of load you’re moving. Forklifts also have different attachments available. Once you’ve decided on a piece of equipment, make sure you inquire about the attachments and other accessories they have for the equipment. These extras will likely come with an extra charge, but they will be worth it if they can save you time onsite.

Insurance

Make sure you read and review the rental contract and insurance details. Usually, the equipment dealer will cover the equipment itself, but your company will likely be held accountable for any injury to the operator or property damage while the equipment is in use. Every insurance policy is different, so we won’t go into details ─ just make sure you know where the dealer’s insurance ends and your responsibility begins.

Operator

You may think that once you’ve learned more about how to rent aerial lifts and decided on a piece of equipment that you’re all done. However, the most important part of the aerial lift rental is not the equipment, but rather the person operating it.

Do you have an operator? By operator, we mean not only someone who has operated an aerial lift before and is familiar with how to steer it, but also someone familiar with best practices for aerial equipment safety. This isn’t something a willing member of your team can just jump in and do.

For everyone’s safety onsite, the operator needs to be trained and familiar with the piece of equipment, the work being done and best practices for safety. They should be working with your team to make sure all safety equipment, like fall protection equipment, is being worn and that the lift’s maximum capacities are being enforced. If you do not have someone to fill that role, see if the dealer has operator training or if they know of a place you could find a qualified operator to assist you with your job.

If you are interested in exploring your options, we are here to help. Yancey has been in business for more than 100 years and is the authorized Cat® dealer of the region. We offer temporary aerial equipment for long- or short-term rental needs and have 15 convenient locations to serve clients throughout Georgia. Our goal is to deliver the highest-quality equipment with unmatched service and support.

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We can walk you through the process of deciding which aerial lift will be best for your job and put together a turnkey lift rental solution. Get started by contacting us and telling us a little bit about your company and your aerial equipment needs.