Boom Lift Basics
A boom lift is a type of elevated platform that is commonly used in construction, maintenance, and repair work to provide access to hard-to-reach areas. It consists of a bucket or platform mounted on the end of a hydraulic arm or boom that can be extended vertically and horizontally to position workers at various heights and angles.
Boom lifts come in different sizes and types, ranging from small electric models for indoor use to large diesel-powered machines for outdoor construction sites. They are equipped with safety features such as safety harnesses, guardrails, and emergency stop buttons to ensure the safety of those using them. In this article, we discuss:
- Anatomy and components
- What a boom lift is used for
- Boom lift types, sizes, and applications
Anatomy and components
The main components of a boom lift include:
- Base: The base contains the wheels, axles, and steering mechanism that allow the lift to move and be positioned.
- Chassis: The frame that supports the lift and operator platform.
- Boom: The extendable arm of the lift that provides reach and elevation to the platform. It is typically made of steel and contains hydraulic cylinders that control the movement of the boom.
- Platform: The work area where the operator stands to perform tasks. It is usually made of steel and includes safety rails and controls for operating the lift.
- Hydraulic system: Includes the pumps, cylinders, valves, and hoses that provide the power to move and control the boom lift.
- Electrical system: Includes the battery, wiring, and controls that power and operate the lift.
- Engine: For diesel or gas-powered boom lifts, the engine provides the power to drive the hydraulic and electrical systems.
- Controls: The controls are the switches and levers used to control the movement and position of the lift.
- Stabilizers: Some boom lifts have stabilizers that extend outward from the base to provide additional stability and support when the lift is in use
These components work together to provide the reach, elevation, and stability needed for work at height. Proper maintenance and operation of these boom lift components are crucial to ensure ongoing safe and efficient use.
What a boom lift is used for
Boom lifts are commonly used in construction, maintenance, and industrial settings to access hard-to-reach areas. They can be used for installing electrical equipment, painting, cleaning windows, repairing roofs, trimming trees, and even in film production for camera shots from elevated positions for example.
The boom lift is equipped with a telescopic or articulated arm that extends upward and outward, reaching heights of up to 100 feet or more. Some models have a platform at the end of the boom that can rotate 360 degrees, making it easier to maneuver around obstacles to reach awkward locations.
Boom lift types, sizes, and applications
Boom lifts come in a range of sizes, from compact lifts that can fit through doorways to larger lifts that can reach heights of up to 185 feet. Each type has its own unique features and benefits. Choosing the right one depends on the specific job.
- Telescopic boom lifts: Have straight arms that extend vertically and can be raised or lowered to reach high places. They are typically used for tasks that require vertical reach, such as construction work.
- Articulated boom lifts: Have arms that can bend and move around obstacles. They are used in situations where access is limited, such as in a narrow alleyway or around a building corner.
- Towable boom lifts: Compact, portable lifts that can be towed behind a vehicle. They are commonly used for outdoor maintenance work, such as trimming trees or repairing power lines.
- Electric boom lifts: Powered by electricity and are ideal for indoor use, as they emit no fumes or emissions. They are typically smaller than diesel or gas-powered lifts and can be used in narrow spaces.
- Diesel or gas-powered boom lifts: Ideal for outdoor use and heavy-duty applications, such as construction and mining. They are larger and more powerful than electric lifts and can reach greater heights.
The size of the lift needed will depend on the height to be reached and the type of work being performed.
Attachments and accessories can be added to a boom lift to enhance their functionality and make them more suitable for different types of work:
- Jib: A jib is an additional arm that extends horizontally from the boom, providing more reach and flexibility.
- Platform extensions: Platform extensions are sections that can be added to the platform, increasing the work surface and allowing further reach capabilities.
- Material handling arm: This attachment provides a secure grip for lifting of heavy materials to elevated heights.
- Pipe racks: These racks attach to the sides of the platform and can hold pipes or other long materials for transport.
- Work lights: Additional work lights can be added to the boom lift to improve visibility when working in low light conditions.
- Welding package: Includes a welding machine and additional cables and hoses to enable welding work at height.
- Environmental control: This attachment includes heating and cooling systems, and enclosed cabins for working in extreme temperatures.
The availability of attachments may vary based on the specific make and model of the boom lift, as well as the manufacturer.
Five advantages of a boom lift
A boom lift offers a number of advantages, including:
- Increased reach and access: Boom lifts can reach heights of up to 185 feet or more, making them ideal for accessing hard-to-reach areas such as rooftops or upper levels of buildings.
- Enhanced safety: Boom lifts provide a stable and secure platform for workers to perform tasks at height, reducing the risk of falls and other accidents.
- Improved productivity: By providing efficient access to elevated work areas, boom lifts can help workers complete tasks more quickly and with less physical exertion, reducing fatigue and improving productivity.
- Environmental friendliness: Electric boom lifts produce zero emissions and are much quieter than diesel or gas-powered lifts, making them ideal for indoor and environmentally sensitive applications.
- Cost-effectiveness: Renting or purchasing a boom lift can be a cost-effective solution for accessing high work areas, as it eliminates the need for costly scaffolding or other temporary structures.
Boom lifts offer a safe, efficient, and versatile solution for work at height. Tasks can be performed quickly and effectively, while maintaining a high level of safety.
Five limitations of a boom lift
Boom lift limitations that need to be considered include:
- Restricted access: Boom lifts may not be able to access certain areas, such as narrow or confined spaces, or areas with uneven or unstable ground.
- Limited maneuverability: Boom lifts have a fixed base and limited maneuverability, which can make it difficult to position the lift in the desired location or to work around obstacles.
- Weather conditions: Extreme weather conditions such as high winds, heavy rain, or lightning may limit the safe use of boom lifts.
- Weight restrictions: Weight limits must be followed to ensure safety and prevent damage to the lift.
- Operator training: Operating a boom lift requires proper training and certification to ensure safe use, which can add additional costs and time to a project.
It is important to carefully evaluate project requirements before deciding whether a boom lift is the appropriate equipment to use.
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This article is our representation of useful information and is not intended to be a complete guide for making the right decision for your company. Ask our experts - or your own - for specific advice based on your unique circumstances.