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What Are the Different Types of Construction Lifts and Which One You Should Use

10 May | 498 views

In the construction industry, lifts have become vital tools that allow teams to complete an array of essential tasks. A lift machine for construction can perform countless tasks, such as transporting workers from one area of the site to another and giving access to hard-to-reach places. They are also used to move materials and equipment horizontally or vertically.

These powerful tools encompass any lifting machinery equipped with an aerial platform and a vehicle-mounted extension. This range of tools includes man lifts, forklifts, scissor lifts, and boom lifts. 

In this blog post, we’ll cover the different types of lifts, how to choose the one for your job site, and their safety considerations.

red man lift

Construction Lift Overview

A construction equipment lift, also known as a construction elevator, is an essential piece of equipment that efficiently moves workers and transports materials up and down various levels of any site. Different types of lift machines have multiple applications and functions:

  • Material Transport: Many types of lifting in construction are used for the movement and transport of various construction materials. These tools can be used to carry bricks, steel, wood, sand, gravel, concrete, and other building materials across different floors where they will be needed.
  • Worker Transport: A lifting machine for construction is essential for transporting workers to different levels in a worksite. They can help your team to reach higher floors easily, improving worker efficiency and reducing risks of injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over 24,000 construction workers get injured annually due to falls on stairways and ladders. Further, around 36 of those injuries end in fatalities, demonstrating the value of using construction lifts.
  • Waste Removal: Construction waste and debris can be moved out of the way easily using different types of lifts. This reduces the need for manual labor, which can be hazardous since your crew must move and handle heavy materials down different building levels.
  • Convenience and Efficiency: Using a lift machine for construction makes transporting heavy materials more convenient. It also improves your team’s efficiency so you can get the job done on time and within the appropriate budget.
  • Tools and Equipment Transport: Moving tools and equipment up and down different levels can be laborious and time-consuming. Using different types of lift equipment, your team will spend more time working on the project instead of hauling essential tools for the job.

Lifts are essential tools in construction and other similar industries. Your team will benefit from using different types of lifts such as scissors, boom, material, personnel, and forklifts.

yellow construction lift

Construction Lift Selection Parameters

Site managers and decision-makers need to consider several parameters when determining the different types of lifting in construction equipment they will need. There are several factors they should look into, which include the following:

  1. Type of Movement

One of the essential considerations is the type of movement needed on your job site. The kind of lift should match the needs of your team, whether you need to move materials and personnel horizontally or vertically across platforms. For instance, if you need to move horizontally on a level platform, a scissor lift will be the best-suited equipment for that application. However, if you need to move your team higher into hard-to-reach spaces, a boom lift will be better suited.

  1. Space and Weight

You will also need to look into the amount of space your crew will be working in. An outdoor construction site affords your team more expansive areas so that you can use larger, heavier equipment and lifts. Spider lifts, and cherry pickers will be better suited to this working environment. However, conditions change when working in small, confined spaces in a warehouse. You will need smaller machines that have better mobility.

  1. Power Source

A lifting machine for construction can use different power sources. Some lifts are electric, while others run on gasoline. It is important to note that electric lifts tend to be more expensive compared to their gas-powered variants.

Electric-powered lifts are better suited for sites where you handle sensitive equipment and supplies. They’re also easier to operate and can move around in tight spaces. However, suppose you’re working outdoors and require more lifting power. In that case, gas-powered lifts will be your best option for that application.

Different Types of Construction Lifts

With plenty of aerial and boom construction lifts, site managers can find the options confusing. It is essential to understand the functionality of the different construction equipment lift machines available. Choose the lift machinery that matches the requirements of the task at hand. Here are some of the most common types of lifts you can use for your site.

Articulating Boom Lifts

This type of aerial platform equipment features a bendable arm outfitted with joints and attached to a mechanical turntable. They are also known as knuckle lifts and can reach heights from 30 feet to 100 feet and up.

Since the base arm is attached to a turntable, an articulating boom lift can move fully circularly. The joints allow the arms to turn in various directions, making this machine versatile and flexible, giving workers better access to hard-to-reach areas.

This type of lift equipment is best suited for indoor and confined spaces. This machine can carry a limited number of workers and works well for repair and maintenance jobs.

Detail Summary:

  • Around 500-pound lifting capacity
  • Arm can extend up to 17 feet
  • It can reach 30 to 100 feet
  • Commonly used for exterior cleaning, piping repairs, and electrical jobs

Cherry Pickers

This machine was given its moniker since they were initially used to harvest fruits in various orchards. These lifts were designed to lift workers along trees with branches that are difficult to reach. Nowadays, these aerial lift machines are in common use in various workspaces.

The lift is mounted on a vehicle. A boom supports the aerial platform where workers can safely stay while performing tasks. Given their appearance, these machines are also called bucket trucks. They’re equipped with a hydraulic crane, providing more lifting capacity.

Due to their improved performance, they are best suited for maintenance, repairing utility lines, installation, and exterior home remodeling. However, you can still see them being used in orchards and farms for their original intended use.

Detail Summary:

  • Height ranges from 30 to 160 feet
  • It can lift more workers at a time
  • It can be used for multiple applications

Telescopic Boom Lifts

A telescopic or straight boom lift is a platform lift with a simpler arm design that can move upwards, downwards, and forwards. Due to their appearance, some people call them “stick booms.” These machines are better suited for jobs where a machine with a longer reach is required since the arm can extend over 100 feet. Telescopic booms can carry one to two workers at a time and are designed for outdoor use.

The bucket on this lift is usually smaller and unsuitable for lifting heavy equipment. However, its arm is exceptionally long, so you can use it for specialized jobs one or two workers can handle. There are gas-powered and electrical-powered telescopic boom lifts, which give you plenty of options for different applications.

Detail Summary:

  • Some models are rated as a 40-foot lift
  • The average carrying capacity is around 600 pounds
  • Some models are designed for heavier lifting with capacities of up to 1,000 pounds
  • It can reach heights of over 100 feet

Scissor Lifts

This type of lift has a distinct appearance consisting of a platform raised and lowered by supports arranged in a crisscross pattern. The platform is wide and large enough to accommodate more personnel and equipment. The cross brace supports offer a lot of lifting power.

The platform can only go up and down and needs to be positioned underneath the area where people will work. The design of this lift limits its ability to move in hard-to-reach areas. Still, it allows an entire team to reach work areas in elevated positions.

Detail Summary:

  • This lift can reach 10 to 60 feet heights
  • Many models can reach 41 to 50 feet
  • Best suited for indoor settings and narrow spaces
  • The platform can fit multiple workers
  • Typical applications include window cleaning, installation jobs, cladding, and building repairs

Types of Scissor Lifts

Several types of scissor lifts are available, and each class offers different applications. Electric scissor lifts can reach up to 40 feet high and are best suited for indoor applications such as warehouses, maintenance projects, and indoor construction. Given their wheel design, they perform better with a hard, flat, level surface. You can use this type of lift to move vertically across working areas.

A rough terrain scissor lift, on the other hand, is best suited for working outdoors. These machines usually have a slightly shorter range. They have support braces and oversized tires, perfect for the outdoors and rugged terrain. They can be used to fit multiple workers that need to do their job on elevated outdoor planes. In addition, this type of lift is an excellent fit for outside workspaces with uneven surfaces.

Telescopic Forklifts

These machines, also known as telehandlers, are best suited for applications where you need a higher carrying capacity and reach. Many models have arms that can extend up to 55 feet or longer. The lifting attachment is handy for moving materials and equipment on construction sites. Its increased upward and forward capacity makes it an efficient choice if you need to move heavy materials and supplies across rugged and challenging terrain.

Detail Summary:

  • This lift features a boom that can be easily extended and retracted
  • It has a higher lifting capacity, perfect for moving parts, equipment, and materials
  • Best suited for construction sites and places where the terrain can be challenging
  • Applications include construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and mining

Vertical Mast Lift

This type of lifting equipment is designed for working in very tight spaces. The platform only moves up and down, so it must be adequately positioned underneath the intended work area. Despite its reduced mobility, vertical mast lifts are helpful for working in tight elevated spaces.

Detail Summary:

  • The platform can carry two or more workers
  • Best suited for tight, narrow areas
  • Given the design, these machines work best indoors

Spider Lift

A spider lift is a lightweight, compact lifting machine designed for uneven and rough terrain. They are also known as mini crawler lifts. It can also be used in confined spaces, given its narrow build. These lifts are often used in construction, maintenance, and landscaping.

The platform is supported by four or more legs or outriggers, ergo, its name. The outriggers provide stability over soft, muddy, and uneven surfaces.

Detail Summary:

  • The compact, lightweight design makes it ideal for confined, tight spaces
  • A versatile machine with multiple applications, including landscaping and construction
  • Height range is 40 to 130 feet
  • Horizontal reach can go up to 70 feet
  • You can find electric and diesel models

white cherry pickers

Choosing the Right Construction Lift

When choosing the correct type of construction lift, you’ll need to consider several factors:

  • Job Site Conditions: Choose the lift platform that best suits site conditions. Some lifts are better suited for steep or rugged terrain, while others work best on flat surfaces and indoor settings.
  • Compatibility of Power Source: Some sites have readily available charging units for electric lifts. If there’s no way to charge your lift, it is best to use gasoline or diesel-powered models.
  • Space Restrictions: Some lifts have wide platforms, while others have narrow buckets. Choose the best lift model, given the available workspace your crew will operate on.
  • Weight Capacity and Movement Type: Some lifts are better suited for moving heavy loads. In contrast, others are best for one or two-person working operations.

Safety in Lifting Operations

Workplace safety is a primary concern in all lifting operations. Your goal is to prevent accidents and ensure the health and safety of your crew as they operate these machines. Ensure that your team is adequately trained to handle lift equipment and that they follow safety protocols at all times while on site.

Proper training also reduces equipment damage, reducing your overall costs. It also ensures optimal productivity since your team can focus on their tasks instead of figuring out how the lifting equipment works.

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