Scissor Lift Uses, Information and Industry Applications

Uses of Scissor Lifts

Scissor lift operators and site managers at corporations large and small take on jobs that can be handled more efficiently and safely with a mechanical lift that is properly matched to the task at hand. Operators and site managers use them to increase productivity, improve safety and save money, but they will only succeed when they have the right equipment for the right project.

Most scissor lifts have a diverse range of uses, but it can be detrimental if the lift does not have the right size, capacity, height or other specifications needed for the job.

Because aerial lifts – such as scissor or boom lifts – are often the best way to reach elevated work areas, a general knowledge of each benefits operators and site managers. Ownership or rental of a new or used scissor lift is an important step for any contractor. MacAllister Rentals can help with the entire process from initial consultation through product selection and maintenance.

Scissor Lifts 101

A scissor lift is a machine made to move personnel and equipment in a vertical direction. These lifts can handle any application that would normally require a ladder, tower or scaffolding. Scissor lifts enable operators to complete the same jobs faster and more securely without the setup time of other equipment, such as scaffolding or a tower, and without the dangerous instability of a ladder.

Scissor Lift What is it

Although the chance of a fall can never be completely eliminated when you work at any height, scissor lifts provide a safety harness or cable as well as a sturdy platform surrounded by a railing. The scissor lift’s work platform provides a solid foundation and unsurpassed safety for work of all types that happens at low to medium elevations.

Sometimes you will hear of a scissor lift referred to by one of these names for its technical classification:

  • Mobile, elevated work platform (MEWP)
  • Aerial work platform (AWP)
  • Elevated work platform (EWP)

Scissor Lift Other Names

The lift is usually made of steel and includes a platform and railing supported by a beam — or bar-style struts. The way the struts hinge together makes the assembly look like several sets of connected scissor blades, and as they operate, they perform an open-close motion similar to scissors. The X pattern actually has a technical name called a pantograph, and hydraulic mechanisms power the scissor action that enables the lift.

Scissor lifts typically extend from 10-60 feet vertically depending on the model, and the working heights tend to range between 20 and 40 feet, though there are models that move higher. Certain scissor lifts may even be moved forward and backwards with the lift partially extended, but this should only be undertaken with great caution. Always review your lift’s user manual to check safety precautions for moving lifts while extended.

Other types of aerial lifts, such as an articulated or telescoping boom, reach higher heights than standard scissor lifts, but the scissor lift is able to carry more weight and offers a functional work platform. Scissor lifts also have an advantage over other options with their relatively small storage size when folded, which ranges from about five to nine feet in height and feature widths from 2’ 6” to 5’ 9”.

Some lifts sit on four wheels or legs and other models have outriggers that go into or onto the surrounding ground to add stability. Some scissor lifts run on electricity and/or a battery, while others take gas, diesel or other kinds of fuel.

Some machines are made to operate indoors, like those used for building maintenance or warehousing, while rough-terrain scissor lifts (RTS) can stand up to outdoor conditions and challenging paths. Some have non-marking tires while others do not. With many options within the same class of MEWP, the first step toward acquiring or renting a scissor lift is to consider what kind of work it will do and in what environments.

Many scissor lift models produce no emissions and operate at a low noise level.

No Emissions Low Noise Scissor Lift

Needs and Site Assessment

Matching the height, dimensions and other specifications of a scissor lift to the job and environment is not only a matter of logistics, but also efficiency and most importantly, safety. The first step in getting a scissor lift in to do the job is to assess the site and goals, which will involve asking the following questions:

  1. Environment – Will the lift operate indoors or outdoors?
  2. Emissions – What is the tolerance for emissions in the work area?
  3. Terrain – What is the terrain like where it will operate?
  4. Work Heights – What are the minimum and maximum work heights it will need to reach?
  5. Temperature – Will its environment be temperature controlled/is weather a factor?
  6. Use Frequency – How often will it run, for example continuously or occasionally?
  7. Load Weight – How heavy of a load will it need to lift?
  8. Clearance – What is the clearance in the aisles or other workspaces where the scissor lift will operate?
  9. Travel Distance – How far or how much will the unit need to travel in a day?
  10. Essential Function – Is the main objective to reach, carry a load or equal amounts of both?

It is a good idea to enlist professional help as you figure out which machine will fulfill your needs the best.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these considerations.

Scissor Lift Considerations

Any dimension restrictions such as narrow aisles, or load requirements such as extra-heavy weight, need to be considered.

You might need an ultra-quiet lift that generates no emissions and has non-marking tires, or it may need to be a lift that has a small, manageable step up to the platform and extends to a relatively low working height.

Along with the high ceilings of many structures come tall walls, and they both hold lights, artwork and other objects that must be accessed for maintenance and cleaning. These wide-ranging indoor needs are served by electric scissor lifts, while gas and diesel-powered models can handle outdoor jobs.

For example, if a construction company owner looks at purchasing a scissor lift, they need to consider the equipment’s task, including necessary mobility and minimum and maximum heights that need to be reached. If your construction company builds average residential homes, you may never work much higher than at the standard height for one residential floor, a little more than 10 feet. Commercial floors are a little taller, about 11.4 feet, and both types would have allowances for rafter and roof heights.

Your needs assessment should include present and future requirements for the machinery. Anytime someone considers the purchase or rental of a piece of major machinery, they are making an investment especially when it enables the owner to break into new kinds of work.

For example, if you are a brick mason who only bids on jobs for one-story buildings because your folding scaffolding limits the heights your crew can work at, a scissor lift could significantly increase the number of jobs your business could take on.

Industry and Business Applications

A number of jobs require scissor lifts. If you see your job description or place of work below, a scissor lift could significantly improve the efficiency and safety of your work.

    1. Building maintenance: Some aspects of building maintenance require working high in the air, such as changing lights, hanging banners, laying bricks, pouring concrete, changing signs, accessing utilities and many other tasks. Scissor lifts are a popular choice inside buildings since they help workers accomplish tasks safely. Plus, they are mobile and can be independently moved from one area of a building to another. These applications are typically done by:
      • Churches
      • Libraries
      • Schools
      • Hospitals
    2. Construction: Scissor lifts provide a mobile, versatile solution for dynamic construction projects that may have frequently changing environments. This makes scissor lifts beneficial for:
      • Renovation Contracting
      • General contracting

    Construction Industry Scissor Lift Uses

    1. Delivery: Busy hubs of shipping activity generally include the tasks that scissor lifts do well with, such as reaching to heights and carrying heavy loads that cannot be lifted by hand.
    2. Overhead signs: From individual establishments to property managers with multiple sites, the world is full of signs that change often. Rental or ownership of a scissor lift can alleviate many worries and headaches associated with making those changes. Some businesses that often change signage include:
      • Mechanic shops
      • Storage Facilities
      • Utilities
      • Parking lot maintenance
    3. Production: An aerial platform can improve operating efficiencies by quickly and safely reaching high heights and lifting heavy loads. This makes scissor lifts helpful for:
      • Manufacturing
      • Chemical processing
      • Food processing
      • Brick-laying
    4. Rail: Many jobs around the railyard such as loading and fitting into narrow spaces to reach up high require the use of scissor lifts every day.
    5. Retail: From the big-name stores to smaller operations, many retailers find themselves relying on scissor lifts. Store and warehouse shelves are tall, and product is stacked up to save space. Scissor lifts can respond to the changing needs and products.
    6. Transportation: Truck and rail facilities around the country and the world have goods to reach, store and retrieve, often on different levels of a warehouse building. Pallets, roll cages, parts and people can be safely transported to another floor.
    7. Warehousing: When storage is the name of the game, every vertical and horizontal inch of space must be used efficiently. Investing in a scissor lift for warehouses can open new areas for use or expedite the retrieval process. Similar uses exist in:
      • Property management
      • Landscaping
      • Transportation management

Warehouse Scissor Lift Uses

Huge corporate operations as well as small businesses and individual company owners find that scissor lifts help accomplish their elevated tasks.

Specs Make the Match

Within each class of scissor and aerial lifts are several brands of machines. MacAllister Rentals carries a wide selection featuring JLG, Genie and others. Once the site and needs assessment reveals factors such as requirements, dimensions, weight and more, they can be matched to the right machine.

For example, the Hy-Brid 1030 model would be ideal for operation within a hospital, clinic, office or library setting because of a number of its features:

  • Limited weight of 1,275 pounds that can safely go on limited-capacity mezzanine levels, computer floors and passenger elevators
  • Simple, maintenance-free, fully enclosed hydraulics
  • Maximum speed of two miles per hour lowered
  • Compact 25-inch by 60-inch platform
  • Slim, overall width of 30 inches
  • 20-inch step height for better access
  • 16-foot working height
  • Non-marking tires to avoid scuffs and floor or carpet damage
  • Two-person capacity
  • Quiet, electric power

As another example, the bigger JLG 4069LE and 3369LE would better serve a manufacturing plant, warehouse, parking lot or other indoor environment where the machine has plenty of room to operate and is probably expected to bear a heavy load:

  • Weight of 10,560 pounds provides for rock-solid stability
  • Lift capacity of 800-1000 pounds
  • Operational diagnostics on board with an analyzer
  • Maximum speed of 3 miles per hour lowered
  • Large 65-inch by 115-inch platform
  • Oscillating axle for efficient maneuverability
  • 33-40-foot extension height
  • Lift-lower time of less than one minute
  • Foldable hand rails
  • Electric power for no emission and quiet operation

In between these two models are at least a dozen other electric-powered indoor scissor lifts to serve a variety of needs. When the projects take place outdoors, there is another family of scissor lifts to take care of business. These bigger models are usually called rough-terrain models, run on gas or diesel fuel and have hefty tires made to roll over dirt and rocks.

Many of the bigger outdoor models have four-wheel drive so they can get into those hard-to-reach places. The heavier-duty platforms carry weights in a general range between 1,000 and 2,250 pounds, which start about where the electric models leave off at their maximum. Gas and diesel-powered scissor lifts generally reach higher than their electric counterparts, with working heights between 38 and 50 feet.

Size of Scissor Lift

Gas and diesel powered lifts have more generous platforms with room for several people plus equipment. The major differences among models tend to be how high they reach, how big a platform they have, how much weight the platform will carry and their drive capacity, such as four-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Rough terrain models can be outfitted with stabilizing struts too, for when they are stationary. These bigger, gas or diesel-powered models tend serve in construction, utilities, landscaping and other industries where work takes place outside.

Accessories and Attachments Provide Adaptability

Many models of scissor lifts have optional features available that make them even more versatile and allow users to customize the lift:

  • Amber flashing light
  • Quick charge capability
  • All-wheel drive
  • Lights on the work platform
  • Leveling jacks
  • Saloon-style swing gate on the platform
  • Spring-loaded gate on the platform
  • Heavy-duty hinges for battery compartments
  • An airline to the platform
  • Swing-out surfaces for more room on the platform
  • Maintenance-free batteries
  • Horn
  • Biodegradable hydraulic fluid
  • Platform padding
  • Welder/electrician/plumber package

Steps for Security

Scissor lifts, as with any aerial lift, require orientation and training to use safely. Operators will need to know how high the lift goes and exactly how that relates to objects such as the ceiling in a building and the power lines outside. Anyone running the scissor lift will need to be familiar with the controls and other normal operations, as well as what to do if something goes wrong.

Safe Use Scissor Lift

Other dangers when using scissor lifts can include:

  • High winds
  • Power lines
  • Uneven ground
  • Lack of safety rails (on older or damaged models)
  • Overload

These steps aren’t unreasonable considering they protect people from accidents and companies from liability. Safety on machines that lift people and equipment is so important that strict regulations apply, and operators must be properly trained. Once operators complete the training, they receive a three-year certificate. Some cities have ordinances or policies requiring anyone operating an aerial work platform to have the proper licensing.

Part of your safety plan should include regular inspection to make sure all the hinges are properly extended and that all components are working correctly. For a number of reasons, bad weather — such as rain, hail, snow, sleet and lightning — is an enemy to safe scissor-lift operations.

Purchase and Rental Options

The price of a new scissor lift ranges from around $12,000 to $70,000 depending on the model, features and capacity sought. Used scissor lifts can be a more economical path to ownership since they have great potential to get the job done at a lower price than new. Rental of a scissor lift can also be a great, flexible money-saving option to use as needed.

Why rent a scissor lift? Flexible rental contracts are available – daily, weekly, monthly, or longer if needed. Scissor lift rental has none of the costs associated with ownership such as sales taxes, and maintenance.

Partner with Rental Professionals

MacAllister Rentals provides for any kind of scissor, or other aerial lift – whether you are looking to buy or rent a machine. Our rental division opened in 1999 as part of the MacAllister Machinery family. The company is in its third generation of family ownership.

MacAllister Rentals

Along with experience and variety of industries served, MacAllister Rentals has locations throughout Indiana and Michigan to make it convenient, fast and easy to access our huge inventory of machines for rent and for sale.

When you partner with us, you’ll find the best in customer service — not just on the day of rental and return, but all the times in between. We value our clients and know that industry leadership is earned by providing the best solutions at the best price. Contact us today with any questions about scissor lifts or other equipment, and we’ll be happy to help.

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