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Maintenance and engineering managers typically have a good idea of the tasks aerial work platforms will have to handle, but the list of uses often gets longer once the machine finds its way into the facility.
"(Managers) probably underestimate how much they'll use it," says Jeff Ford of JLG Industries Inc. "Because once you get one of these things available to your maintenance crew, they are going to find more things to do than you imagined."
Tough decisions loom for managers considering purchasing or renting an aerial work platform for use in commercial and institutional facilities.
With so many types of lifts — such as scissor, boom, and mast lifts — that stretch into the air or extend across or around objects, managers have a number of options to consider for the machine that best fits their workers' needs.
Establishing a relationship with a rental company or manufacturer can help managers specify the aerial work platform that best fits their departments' needs.
"Many manufacturers have multiple sales organizations that can sell, rent, and support aerial work platforms," says Scott Reynolds of Teupen USA Inc. "If the facility is working directly with the manufacturer to spec a machine or to determine which model is the best fit, they should consider asking for the manufacturer's recommendation on which distributor, dealer, or rental company would provide the most outstanding long-term support."
Learning the differences between the kinds of lifts and the duties they can perform also can deliver both long- and short-term savings.
"There are significant differences between manufacturers' designs, performance, and quality," Reynolds says. "All 20-foot scissors or 45-foot booms are not the same. The facility manager should investigate warranty, materials, safety history and performance between machines. It is always a good idea to ask for references to similar facilities."
Companies recommend that managers and technicians try out a machine before purchasing or renting.
"It is always a good idea to actually try a lift on site prior to making a purchase," Reynolds says. "Make sure the machine meets your expectations. Many times, a specification sheet can be misleading, or the buyer misses the fine print describing little-known performance restrictions."
Specifying Aerial Lifts: Rising to the Challenge