aerial work platform

What Is an Aerial Work Platform? A Guide for Construction Workers

In the construction industry, there are many instances where it’s necessary to reach heights that exceed the capabilities of conventional ladders and scaffolding. Aerial work platforms (AWPs), also called aerial lifts, are invaluable in these scenarios.

Read on for answers to frequently asked questions about AWPs, such as:

  • What Is an Aerial Work Platform?
  • What Is an Aerial Work Platform For?
  • What Are the Different Types of AWPs?

The insights listed below are aimed to help you make an informed decision on the right kind of AWP to use for your project and whether to rent or purchase an AWP.

What Is an Aerial Work Platform?

AWPs are a type of heavy equipment used to bring workers to areas at height. They are also called aerial lifts and mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs).

While there are different types of AWPs, they all share the following parts in common:

  • The base: This is where the drive system is located. The drive system is what propels the workspace to the elevated area. Typically, it is powered by hydraulics.
  • The lifting mechanism: This can be a boom, a telescopic arm or a scissor package.
  • The platform: This is the workspace where workers stand or where equipment is placed. The platform can be fixed or articulated, depending on the type of AWP.

An aerial working platform can be unpowered, self-propelled or vehicle-mounted. Unpowered AWPs require manual operation, while self-propelled AWPs are mounted on wheels or tracks and can be driven around a worksite. Meanwhile, vehicle-mounted AWPs are, as their name suggests, mounted on vehicles, typically trucks.

Unpowered AWPs are rarely used due to their limited reach, capacity and versatility. Vehicle-mounted and self-propelled aerial lifts are more common on construction sites.

AWPs are used by construction workers for a wide range of tasks, from roof repair to duct installation. However, they’re also utilized in other industries for work that requires accessing high and hard-to-reach areas, such as tree trimming, telephone line repair and organizing goods in warehouses.

What Is an Aerial Work Platform Used For?

AWPs are indispensable tools in the construction industry, as they help accomplish a wide variety of tasks. The following are some examples:

Installation Work

AWPs are go-to tools for installation tasks, whether installing electrical wiring, a new roof or an HVAC system. An elevated work platform allows workers to reach high areas to accomplish these tasks safely and efficiently. Additionally, some AWPs have the space and capacity to carry equipment for installation tasks and workers. 

Painting Projects

An elevated work platform makes it easy to access and paint high ceilings, walls and other large, hard-to-reach areas. The stability of AWPs makes painting jobs significantly faster and less labor-intensive. In turn, this reduces project timelines and operational costs.

Roofing Work

AWPs are essential in roofing work. They help workers access heights for roof installation, repairs, and maintenance, including fixing shingles, gutters and flashing.

Facade Maintenance

AWPs enable workers to reach and work on building exteriors, including windows and cladding. AWPs make facade maintenance tasks, from cleaning and painting to caulking and inspections, safer and more accessible.

What Are the Different Types of AWPs?

AWPs come in various forms. Choosing the right elevated work platform is crucial for efficient and safe project completion. Here’s a brief overview of three common types:

  • Scissor Lift: Scissor lifts are used in interior and exterior construction work at moderate heights. Their scissor-like mechanism provides smooth and controlled elevation, making them ideal for drywall installation, painting, window cleaning and other tasks that require stability. Compact and maneuverable, scissor lifts are suitable for working in confined spaces and on uneven terrain.
  • Vertical Mast Lift: This type of elevated work platform is compact and lightweight, making it ideal for tasks that require access to elevated areas within a narrow or confined space. They’re also suitable for indoor construction work. Vertical mast lifts are often used in warehousing, inventory management and general maintenance tasks. Some vertical mast lifts are designed to be rugged enough for use in outdoor construction.
  • Boom Lift: A boom lift features a platform or bucket mounted on a hydraulic arm and a stable base. This configuration allows workers to access elevated work areas, both vertically and horizontally, with precision and flexibility. Boom lifts can reach much further than other kinds of lifts, making them ideal for work on high-rise buildings and bridges.

The Benefits of Renting vs. Buying an Aerial Work Platform

Choosing between renting and buying an AWP is a critical decision that impacts a company’s operations and finances.

When deciding whether to rent or buy, it’s crucial to consider the pros and cons of each option. 

Renting is cost-effective since you only pay for the time you spend using the equipment. You also won’t have to pay for maintenance, repairs and storage. Additionally, renting provides flexibility: you can rent different types of AWPs depending on the needs of a specific project.

Meanwhile, owning an AWP gives you access to one whenever you need it, which is beneficial for businesses that frequently use this equipment. Additionally, you can customize it for specific job requirements. If your company plans to use AWPs often, purchasing one might be more cost-effective than renting. However, remember that ownership comes with maintenance, repair and storage costs.

Choosing between hiring and owning depends on your project requirements, budget and company size. For short-term projects with varying needs, renting is often more economical. On the other hand, larger companies that will use AWPs frequently may find ownership more cost-effective in the long run.

Elevate Your Projects With Aerial Work Platform Rentals From National Dispatching

National Dispatching offers superior aerial work platform rental solutions for construction work and other demanding projects. Our inventory includes high-quality scissor lifts, telescopic boom lifts and articulating boom lifts made by trusted manufacturers.

Our team of experts is happy to assist you with choosing the right equipment for your needs. Contact us today to get started!

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x Rental Equipment Protection Plan REP® provides coverage for specified damages or loss to the rental equipment. REP® amounts can be refunded if you provide a valid Certificate of Insurance (COI) meeting required limits and language prior to delivery of your rental. Terms and Conditions apply. In the event of loss, a deductible is required. Please refer to the National Dispatching Rental Agreement Terms & Conditions for more information on REP® and COI requirements.
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