Technology Advances Bring New, Exciting MEWPs Options

Standards and technology have changed, so maintenance managers should take a second look at elevators.

OTHER PARTS OF THIS ITEMPoint 1: This pagePoint 2: How to choose the right aerial work platform

ElevatorsEach facility has unique specifications and requirements, which means that choosing the right aerial platform for maintenance applications is often a challenge.

The technological innovations surrounding mobile aerial work platforms (MEWPs) mean that maintenance managers and engineers need to stay abreast of new industry standards. The new ANSI A92.20 standards for the aircraft industry have changed the design requirements for aerial work platforms, including telescopic work platforms, scissor lifts, and portable personal work platforms that will be used after Jan.

These design changes, which include many new features and technologies such as load sensing and tilt sensing, are intended to improve the safety of aerial work platforms, says Jennifer Stiansen, director of marketing at JLG.

“For load sensing, aerial work platforms must now be equipped with sensors that actively monitor the platform load on the machine and issue an alarm as well as interrupt normal operation in the event of overload,” says Stiansen.

In order to meet this requirement, the integrated sensor technology in access platforms has advanced so far that operators can react quickly and easily to an overload situation. By removing or unloading objects from a platform, the aerial work platform detects when it is back within its rated capacity so that operations can resume without recalibrating the machine.

The requirements for inclination detection in the current standards are very similar to those for load detection. The tilt sensor issues an alarm and disables boom and drive functions if the tilt exceeds the machine’s nominal tilt tolerance, says Stiansen. Once the machine detects that it is back within its nominal range, operators can reposition the machine or level the work area to continue work within the machine’s nominal load and slope tolerances.

New advances

The recent advances in aerial work platform machine technology have been developed to cope with rough terrain.

“There are new developments that add to operator productivity in areas with limited space,” says Stiansen.

Elevating work platforms equipped with an electronic detection system have strategically placed sensors that provide visual and audible warnings to inform the operator that they are approaching a structure. These sensors initiate the slowdown of the machine as it approaches the structure and emit an audible beep that increases with increasing speed before the unit stops completely.

“In situations in which the aerial work platform has to get closer to the structure after it has stopped, the operator can override the sensor technology to slowly approach the structure in order to bring the machine closer to the desired work area,” says Stiansen.

Technology continues to drive product design across the lifter segment, from new safety features to improved load capacities and greener drive solutions, said Matthew Elvin, CEO of Snorkel.

“We introduced a new variable tilt feature that allows us to provide a lighter scissor lift table that can reach the maximum working height and lift the maximum platform capacity outdoors,” says Elvin.

This function enables the operation of scissor lifts with larger lateral inclinations while the platform is below the set height. As the platform is raised, the degree of lateral incline the machines can operate on decreases accordingly.

Like many other facility management products, elevators also rely on lithium-ion battery technology, especially for medium-sized access platforms. In contrast to existing electrically operated aerial work platforms, which are usually only used on concrete surfaces, new medium-sized aerial work platforms with lithium-ion batteries have full all-wheel drive for rough terrain and are also completely emission-free.

Another new trend is great diversification in heights and types of lifts, geared towards more specific applications, says Austin Caskey, Product Line Manager at Sunbelt Rentals. In the past, managers had limited options in terms of height, weight capacity, outside reach and availability of basket accessories, now there are many more options.

“For example, facility maintenance managers and their teams had to rent a 19-foot scissor lift for all work done on a standard one-story floor,” says Caskey. “Now they have many height options, from 10 to 20 feet, and of varying lengths and compactness, so they can fit in spacious or tight spaces.”

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