Cherry Picker Access Platforms – The Essential Guide

What is a cherry picker?

You probably already have a basic idea of what a cherry picker is – a piece of kit that lifts a work platform to high areas. We’ve all seen them being used – from Street Lighting Contractors repairing street lights film crews grabbing aerial shots to window cleaners working on tall city offices. Sometimes called powered access equipment, access platforms, aerial lifts, flying carpets or aerial work platforms, cherry pickers get workers up to high, otherwise inaccessible areas quickly and safely.

So you think you might need a cherry picker for a job, but what kind of machine do you go for? The choice in the fast-growing cherry picker hire and sales market can be daunting -vertical lifts, boom lifts, scissor lifts or truck-mounted lifts… it’s hard to know where to start. This guide will give you an introduction to the types of cherry pickers out there, and help you decide which is right for your task.

Types of cherry picker lift

There is a huge choice of kit available in the cherry picker market, which is good news because it means whatever the job, there should be the perfect machine to fit. But the variety of machines available, and the sometimes conflicting terminology used by different companies to describe them, can be confusing. So here’s a general introduction to the types of machine’s available, the types of job they are best for, and the different terms you may see used to describe them.

Up-and-down or side-to-side?

Cherry picker aerial lifts break down into two main groups, each covering a wide variety of equipment. The first group is the boom-type lift – broadly speaking, a jointed lift that raises a platform upwards, and also outwards. The second group are generally called scissor lifts – these lifts simply raise a stable platform vertically, often using the criss-cross scissor mechanism that gives them their name.

Boom Lifts

Boom lifts come in all shapes and sizes, from self-propelled to truck-mounted. The main feature of a boom lift is that it is jointed, meaning it can move out sideways as well as straight up and down, making it ideal for extending up and over objects to reach hard-to-get-to areas like roofs.

Self propelled boom lifts

A self-propelled boom lift is usually a smaller unit that can be moved from place to place by the operator from the basket. This means they are quick and convenient for reaching more than one tricky spot without having to stop work and re-set the unit. They are ideal for hire on a long-term project on a site, where a cherry picker may be needed for a variety of work at height. Machines such as the Haulotte Star 10 are popular for internal usage or the Haulotte HA16SPX is an example of a self-propelled boom which is often used on building sites or construction projects.

Truck mounted booms

A truck-mounted, or van-mounted boom is the ideal choice for work which requires access to numerous high work areas in a short space of time. For example, machines such as the Ascendant 12.5VM is often used for working on street lighting. Great for short term hire on jobs where you need to be in and out quickly, truck-mounted booms offer speed and mobility. They can come with larger platforms which can carry several workers and heavy equipment. Popular models of truck mounted boom’s include the Ascendant 22 or Bronto 34, both robust vehicles which are simple to operate. Truck mounted booms can be hired on a self-drive basis – those under 3,500kg can be driven on a standard driving license. Larger HGV truck mounted booms are supplied with a fully trained operator.

Trailer mounted booms

Working on the same principal as a truck-mounted boom, a trailer-mounted boom lift gives you the option of collecting and moving the lift using your own vehicle to tow. Lightweight and versatile, they are a good low-cost option, often used by builders on smaller jobs.

Specialist boom lifts

In recent years boom lift manufacturers have developed some very specialised pieces of access equipment designed for particular working conditions. Rough terrain boom lifts such as the popular Haulotte HA16SPX are designed to be used on uneven ground outdoors, and others can feature caterpillar tracks and even non marking tyres for internal work. Another specialist type of boom lift is the narrow access platform, such as the Spider FS370 or Mantis 29 which is designed to be used inside commercial environments such as shopping centres, airports or theatres. Extremely versatile when it comes to set-up, this type of lift is available battery operated to avoid fumes, can fit through a standard doorway or in narrow access areas and still give access to high areas inaccessible by ladder.

Scissor Lifts

Mobile, practical and versatile, scissor lifts use a mechanism to lift a caged platform vertically. This might be a criss-cross scissor mechanism, or one of several other designs. Scissor lifts are usually self-propelled, meaning the operator can drive them from the basket and can be either battery powered or diesel powered allowing them to be used both internally and externally.

Battery powered scissor lifts

These are ideal for indoor commercial use, Several models offer a narrow working width which allows them to travel along warehouse aisles making them ideal for carrying out task’s such as stock takes within a warehouse, They are also ideal for work where equipment is needed at height, such as Electrical engineering. Because scissor lifts are compact when they are lowered, they can be easily stored on site.

Diesel Powered scissor lifts

These come in varying sizes from the Haulotte Compact 10DX which is ideal for smaller building sites where space is at a premium to the Skyjack 9250 which is ideal for cladder’s who wish to fix large pieces of cladding to a building.

Scissor lifts can offer a low-cost solution for working at height, with push-around models at the lowest end of the price range.

Where should I go for more information on cherry pickers? Now you have a basic understanding of the type of access platform that might suit you, and the questions you should be asking, the next source of information is a cherry picker hire and sales company, who will be able to give you expert advice on which lift is best for you.

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