Contortion artists: Articulating boom updates
31 August 2023
Articulated boom lifts have long known their place in the market. Utilized mostly for industrial construction, maintenance and repair tasks, these agile lifts are some of the most recognizable types of equipment on jobsite, due to their distinctive knuckle-style boom and shapeshifting capabilities.
With applications and uses for this type of equipment are certainly well-established within the industry, major machine design and operation changes didn’t really occur until 2020, when the then-new ANSI A92 suite of standards - which required manufacturers to add load and tilt sensing systems to their machines – went into effect.
Fast forward to today, though, and the articulated space is once again undergoing seismic shifts.
An industry first
From congested, urban environments to jobsite-dictated requirements, there’s a growing demand for cleaner, and greener, construction equipment – and manufacturers are responding to the call.
In mid-July, Niftylift announced a major deal that will see it collaborate with UK-based rental company Speedy Hire to design and manufacture the world’s first hydrogen-electric-powered articulating boom lifts – the HR15E and HR17E.
The models are based on Niftylift’s existing diesel-powered HR15 and HR17 but will feature an electric battery that can be operated for up to five days on a single charge. Additional range will also be available from the on-board hydrogen fuel cell.
“The phenomenal single charging capability of the Niftylift hydrogen-electric powered access platform is the powered access equivalent of launching a new vehicle with a thousand-mile range, and that is before you add the additional capacity of the hydrogen fuel cell,” says Andrew Briggs, powered access managing director at Speedy Hire. “This innovation will enable our customers to hire a game-changing and repeatable on-site solution, that helps them meet their operational net zero targets of the future.”
According to the companies, the zero-emissions, zero-carbon HR15E and HR17E units will offer the first alternative to diesel-powered equipment on early-stage construction sites where electric infrastructure is “virtually non-existent.” The HR15E features a working height of 51 feet, 6 inches, while its bigger brother tops out at 56 feet, 6 inches. Both units have a total outreach of 31 feet. Hybrid and electric versions of the model will also be available from the manufacturer.
John Keely, managing director at Niftylift, notes, “With our new hydrogen-electric HR15E and HR17E, Speedy can provide its customers with a long-term net zero solution for on-site machine charging - a world-first and a massive step forward for the powered access industry.”
The two companies co-developed the fuel cell powered articulating boom lift and agreed a three-year partnership worth $11.4 million in the first year that will see Niftylift manufacture the lifts at its Milton Keynes, UK, facility exclusively for Speedy Hire, alongside an additional fleet of Niftylift hybrid powered access platforms.
Expanding the range
At APEX 2023, Magni showcased its latest range of articulated boom lifts via its long-standing partnership with Dingli.
They included articulating models with heights from 52 to 91 feet (16 to 28m) and capacities ranging from 551 to 661 pounds (250 to 300kg,) bringing Magni’s total articulating range up to a total of 18 models.
“In order to adapt to market needs every model is available in three different versions: diesel, electric and the new hybrid technology,” said Magni, adding that its hybrid models offer “the same performance as combustion and electric” counterparts.
“...these models are an advanced version of electric boom lifts as they combine the electric green technology while ensuring the long endurance of diesel models,” said Magni.
“In fact, they feature a range extender motor that enables the machine to generate electricity and therefore recharge the batteries autonomously.”
Also at APEX, LGMG displayed its new A09JE and A13JE-Li articulating booms, the latter offering direct electric drive, powered by a lithium-ion battery.
With a narrow tail swing and compact design, the models easily access tight and narrow spaces. The jib can move vertically and swing ±90° horizontally and provides a wider working envelope to previous models.
The machines’ proportional control complements the dual joystick controller, which allows smooth and precise positioning, while lifting and driving are powered by maintenance-free AC motors.
The A09JE (A30JE in North America) has a platform height of 9 feet, 6 inches, a maximum working height of 36 feet and a platform capacity of 510 pounds. The overall width is 3 feet, 11 inches.
Featuring electric drive, low noise and zero emissions, the lithium-battery powered A13JE-Li (A42JE-Li) also has a compact size makes it convenient for construction tasks in narrow and hard to access places.
Cause for celebration
In Early May, Sinoboom hosted its 15th anniversary event where it also introduced new articulating units to the market.
The new product launches included the 52-foot, all-electric AB16EJ Plus/AB520EJ Plus articulated boom lift, with twin sigma type risers, two section telescopic boom and articulating jib, providing a working height of 58 feet (17.8m) and three platform capacities – 551, 749 and 1,000 pounds (250k, 340 and 454kg) – with outreaches of 29, 26 and 22 feet (9 8, 7m,) respectively, all at an up-and-over-height of just under 30 feet (7.9m.)
Another new platform launch was the 32ft AB10ERJN industrial zero tail swing articulated boom lift with dual risers, two section telescopic boom and articulating jib with 180 degrees of jib rotation as well as 180 degrees of platform rotation.
China-based equipment manufacturer LGMG officially launched its new heavy-duty boom lift, following its debut at ConExpo 2023.
Designed for outdoor construction and industrial applications, the AR14J-H (AR45J-H) is a 7.4-ton (16,300-pound) machine that has a Kubota V2403/D1105 diesel engine at its heart.
It has a maximum working height of 52 feet (15.9m) and an outreach of 25 feet (7.7m,) with an up-and-over reach of 24 feet (7.4m.)
It also benefits from four-wheel, crab and front-wheel steering modes, which allow it to handle varying site conditions, such as hard and uneven terrain. A one-touch wheel alignment feature that enables easier and safer operation, and provides 45 percent gradeability.
The large 450kg (992-pound) capacity platform of the AR14J-H (AR45J-H) can accommodate up to three people, and proportional lift and drive controls is said to deliver more comfortable operation.
LGMG has equipped the articulating model with an intelligent self-diagnostic system.
JCB also recently introduced full electric and diesel/electric hybrid boom lifts.
The new A45E and A45EH articulated boom lifts – which are not currently available in North America – offer a maximum platform height of 45 feet (13.84m) with 24 feet (7.47m) horizontal reach, 661-pounds of (300kg) basket capacity across the entire envelope, along with secondary guarding as standard, slew lock and emergency override, as well as solid rough terrain tires. They join the existing AJ48D diesel model, first launched in 2021.
While a jib is also standard on both new models, the ‘J’ has been dropped from the nomenclature.
The A45E is powered by eight 6V batteries, creating a 48V, 400AH operating system. The battery packs are located on either side of the lower chassis, maintaining a low center of gravity for added stability and improved traction.
The batteries power AC drive motors via motor controllers and the machine’s hydraulic pump through a hydraulic motor controller.
The A45EH uses a 14.8kW three-cylinder diesel engine and a 7.5kWa generator to power the machine’s eight 6V batteries.
The engine is mounted on a swing-out tray, making it easier to service and maintain when required. A 40-litre fuel tank provides enough fuel for a full week of operation, making it ideal for offering low emissions in remote locations. The battery can also be plugged into a mains supply if available.
In 2022, JLG launched the renewed version of its electric booms, the EC Series models.
Updates to the two new EC Boom Series Mark II models include advanced battery technology, with an improved battery capacity of 10kW, with the option to upgrade the pack to 20kW for prolonged duty cycles and autonomy.
JLG also made improvements around cold weather performance and introduced a 4x4 wheel drive option to increase terrain capability, a feature that had been requested by customers.
At APEX 2023, Genie highlighted its Z-45 FE hybrid articulating boom lift, a product debuted in response to increased demand worldwide for versatile and cost-effective “green” access solutions, the company says. The boom features an unrestricted range of motion and a maximum lift capacity of 660 pounds and is suitable for accessing work at height in the 52-foot range.
“With two modes of operation (all-electric or hybrid), the Genie Z-45 FE boom offers rental companies a versatile, sustainable and powerful ‘2-in1’ solution adapted to indoor, as well as outdoor, applications, even where on-site electric power is not available,” says Marie Engstrom, Genie Product Manager, Terex AWP. “And with its robust lift capacity, operators can to take up 30 percent more materials in the platform for increased productivity as compared to other hybrid machines in this height range. These features translate to additional jobsite utilization and longer rental opportunities.”
The Genie Z-45 FE boom lift features high-efficiency AC drive motors that provide similar torque as hydraulic drive motors while using 30-40 percent less energy. “Offering full-time 4WD and equipped with electronic traction management, active oscillating axles and the ability to travel 4.0 mph drive speed for quick travel around jobsites, this new Genie hybrid model provides the ultimate rough terrain performance.
“The low-maintenance IP67-sealed AC drive motors are designed to significantly prolong battery charge while reducing operating and maintenance costs for excellent rROIC.”
For Canadian OEM Skyjack, its latest articulating news comes out of Hungary, where production of the new SJ45 AJ+ and SJ60 AJ+ articulating booms began in October. Designed with SMARTORQUE technology, which means the models can employ 25hp engines and still deliver the same on-site job performance as higher-powered units, the booms are geared toward saving rental companies money.
“Rental companies and major contractors face increasing demands for sustainability information,” Skyjack says. “Skyjack has introduced its ECO mark to support our customers by providing products that deliver benefits in environmental performance and long-term sustainability.”
Articulating or telescopic?
When it comes to choosing the right boom lift for the job at hand, JLG provides the top tips to consider.
- Agility versus versatility: An articulating boom would be the preferred choice for applications that require agility to reach over or around objects, such as chimneys, ceiling joists or roof trusses, HVAC or electrical fixtures, the floors of a building under construction or warehouse shelves A telescopic boom lift would be the best choice for applications that require the versatility to reach high, like multi-story buildings, or to reach far out at a lower level, like under bridges
- Jobsite conditions: An articulating boom lift generally offers you a more compact footprint and narrow operating profile, especially zero tail swing models, ideal for space-restricted jobsites A telescopic model is more productive on job sites with plenty of room to turn and space to reach
- Outreach: An articulated model can offer you multiple angles and reach to access overhead work. A telescoping boom lift often can reach higher than an articulating boom lift (depending on specific model and design differences)
Overall, the best way to distinguish between a telescopic or articulating boom lift is this: Telescopic models are better for getting people and materials into place and holding them there, while articulating booms are better suited for moving people and materials around obstacles and into different positions with agility.