Flexibility and Safety Drive Utility Choices in Aerial Devices
When it comes to aerial devices, utilities heavily weigh ergonomics and the ability to accomplish the job when choosing equipment for their fleets. This, and options that provide the most flexible positioning of personnel, has influenced recent trends in equipment boom types and accessories for aerial devices.
Opting for Overcenter
Overcenter aerial devices are typically selected for the range of upper boom articulation they provide. This supports distribution work practices that take place on both sides of the pole. Overcenter aerial devices have a greater range of motion, better side reach – up to 5 feet more in some cases – and lower access to the ground in the overcenter position.
One example of an application where this is beneficial is when the lineworker needs to be able to reach the lines on the field side of the poles while remaining set up on the roadway. They can lay the boom out flat and swing under the lines, then raise the upper boom to reach the work. If the lineworker can get into the right position to do their work, not only is the job easier, but the worker can accomplish the tasks assigned without multiple setups as long as each task can be accomplished safely.
Reducing ergonomic risk when in the overcenter ground mount position allows the operator to lower the bucket close to or even onto the ground. Consider all the tools, including phase lifters, crimpers, hydraulic drills or chainsaws, and components that go into the bucket with personnel or that are installed on the material-handling jib. It is easier for the ground worker to hand off materials with the platform at the ground rather than lifting items over their shoulder or in the stowed position. Better ground access also makes it easier to clean out debris in the platform and aids personnel rescue.
Stacked Boom Sections
Overall height is almost always one of the first questions customers ask about a model because of the need to access tight areas, such as highway overpasses or through garage doors. In the past, the side-by-side boom configuration was the only option that offered low travel height. However, with the introduction of Terex’s Optima Series, the stacked boom configuration has become more widely accepted by utility customers. This configuration delivers low travel height plus other benefits.
The stacked boom configuration weighs less, on average, than side-by-side booms. This increases available chassis options as well as truck bed and storage space. Utilities often prefer to have more capacity for stocking the truck with supplies when serving a large geographic area with crews stationed a long distance from their warehouse centers.
Two other pieces of optional equipment that are frequently selected by utilities – hydraulic extended jibs and 24-inch platform lifters – further support the goal of increasing versatility.
Material-handling jibs give the operator the flexibility to lift loads to the work zone. Top-mounted jibs offer the option of hydraulic articulation and extension. One trend among utilities is to select the type that allows extension under load. Roller assemblies above and below the jib allow this type of jib to extend and retract when loaded, if it is loaded within the rating.
The other type, the simplified/compact jib, provides infinite positioning through 120 degrees of articulation and a load radius of 0 to 65 inches. Hydraulic extension and repositioning are possible, but not while the jib is under load.
Finally, the addition of a 24-inch platform lifter enables the bucket to be extended independently from the boom. The device effectively adds 2 feet of working height to the unit without having to reposition the boom. Increased access to the work area potentially reduces the kind of twisting and straining that can cause ergonomic injuries.
Each utility may have different work conditions depending on the services they provide and their service area. Often, a utility’s safety department or standards committee plays an integral role in the specification of equipment. Understanding the unique factors that affect the work their employees do is central to evaluating and reducing risks to accomplish the tasks the crews are assigned. The environment and the tools used are a few of those influencing factors.
The selection of the equipment is best handled when the utility works together with their Terex account manager to evaluate the equipment and options available that best match the actual work to be accomplished, typical work site conditions and goals of the organization. Overcenter units provide greater range of motion and setup options, which is why they are popular with utilities. With the wide range of machines and options available, a fresh look at available equipment may pay dividends to the users.
About the Authors: Osvaldo Jimenez is a strategic account manager at Terex Utilities focused on investor-owned utilities. He has worked for the company for nearly eight years in sales, with previous experience in fleet operations and management in construction and tree-trimming services.
Ryan Kloos is a territory sales manager for Terex Utilities. He has been with the company for more than 16 years, working in customer design and sales application roles.
Image courtesy of Terex.
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