In position for safe set-up: The importance of safe and easy set up and control of trailers
By Maria Hadlow07 August 2012
Trailer mounted access platforms are among the most flexible tools you can use for working at height - hitch them up, drive to the work site, do the job and move on. There is no need to wait for kit to be delivered, you can work on your own time frame and use the machines in areas that some self propelled equipment might have trouble reaching.
These days there are even drivable trailer mounts for even more flexibility.
Of course to get the most out of this equipment they must be easy to set up safely and the operator must feel secure when operating the machine.
Trailer mounts are, perhaps, the most likely piece of equipment to be employed by occasional users and, although never recommended, to be used by a single individual in isolation.
Niftylift has been making trailer mounted work platforms for nearly 30 years specifically for the rental industry.
The Nifty range of trailer mounts starts at a platform height of 9m (Nifty 90) and goes up to 21m (Nifty 210). Tim Ward Niftylift's sales director says, "Each is designed to offer the best possible performance to the customer without compromising on reliability or ease of use.
"Nifty's years of experience in selling to the rental industry have provided it with essential insights into the importance of machine reliability, ease of operation and minimal maintenance to the customer.
"Our platforms are designed with fully proportional hydraulic control systems for reliability under heavy use and manufactured, where possible, using standardised components. This simplifies maintenance tasks and helps to keep running costs to a minimum, improving utilisation and profitability for our customers."
John Keely Niftylift's managing director continued, "Safety is a central aspect in the design of each and every Niftylift. All are built to strict regulations and have to pass a thorough testing procedure before they leave the factory ensuring they meet Nifty's high quality standards.
Safety features on the Nifty trailer mount range include; outriggers with audible and visible alarms; double acting cylinders; manual recovery with hand pump; dual controls (platform and base); lock valves on all hydraulic cylinders; overrun brakes with gas spring hand brake; and dual harness points.
Niftylift's Traction Drive is the company's powered trailer mount positioning system. It an integrated drive system that assists with the manoeuvring and positioning of Niftylift trailer mounts by a single operator when on-site and disconnected from the towing vehicle.
Operated from controls next to the tow hitch, Nifty Traction Drive'allows an operator to maximise their effectiveness on any series of tasks allowing them to be performed quickly and safely without the need for extra assistance.
When engaged, Traction Drive uses hydraulically powered drums'to turn the road wheels in order to position the machine. This provides more traction than with alternatives such as powered jockey wheels and enables an operator to negotiate slopes that without Traction Drive would be inaccessible.
Nifty Traction Drive also works on softer surfaces such as grass or gravel, which often surround the sorts of typical applications for which trailer mounts are used. Again, this dramatically increases the potential effectiveness of a single operator as in some cases the only alternative would be to 'man-handle' the machine with a team of people.
Without assistance, one operator can un-hitch and manoeuvre the trailer mount from one location to another in a safe and controlled manner.
When the task is finished, Nifty Traction Drive allows the machine to be easily manoeuvred into position and re-hitched to the towing vehicle before being safely disengaged for road towing.
Snorkel says that its best-performing markets for trailer-mounts include Australia and Germany. Due to their ease of use and transport, trailers are typically used by contractors in professions such as arboriculture and facilities maintenance.
With live hydraulic controls the Snorkel TL machines are designed to be easy and low cost to maintain, while simple to operate. Swing-out trays give fast access to the batteries, engine, fuel tank and running gear, ensuring routine service and maintenance is simple and efficient.
Snorkel TL-series lifts provide safe and effective working heights from 12.2m (40ft) to 17m (55ft 9ins) and platform capacity for two people with tools. Articulating jibs and powered platform rotation for extra versatility are fitted as standard. TL-series lifts are available in a range of power options including petrol, diesel, battery-electric and bi-energy. Options include power and air to platform, a 230V generator and platform work lights.
The TL34 is described as an entry-level machine. It comes with manual, fold-down outriggers that have load-sensing interlocks with LED indicators. The TL37J and TL49J have hydraulically-powered outriggers. A level sensor helps the operator ensure correct deployment via a simple, visual check. Additional safety features include automatic reverse and over-run braking when in transport mode.
Snorkel remains the only aerial lift manufacturer to produce a trailer-mounted scissor lift. The XT24SD trailer-mounted is towed like a conventional trailer, but can be driven from the platform (when in the stowed position), just like a self-propelled scissor.
With a weight of 1500kg, the XT24SD is light enough to be easily towed by cars or light commercial vehicles, the Snorkel XT24SD (X= Scissor, T= Trailer, 24 = platform height in feet, SD = Self-Drive) is fitted with a twin wheel friction drive system, allowing the operator to drive and steer it from the basket while in the stowed position. This combines a trailer's ease of transport with the performance and manoeuvrability of a self-propelled aerial work platform.
The lift is popular in the aircraft maintenance sector and other applications include electrical contractors, sign installation and facilities maintenance.
The Snorkel XT24SD is quick and easy to set up. Once unhitched from the tow vehicle, the drive motors are engaged, and if required the stabiliser extensions are deployed. Once these operations are complete the operator can enter the platform and not leave until returning to the tow vehicle. Four electrically-actuated jacks level the machine at the touch of a button to allow elevation. Lift/lower and level functions are controlled using the same proportional dual-axis joystick that controls drive and steer. With a safe working load of 227kg, the Snorkel XT24SD can lift two people with tools to working heights of up to 8.9m (29ft), or 5.7m (18ft 8ins) with the level jacks in their inboard, narrow position.
Standard features include a 0.8m roll-out deck extension, power line to platform, automatic reverse and over-run braking and an integrated, automatic battery charger. Options include a site illumination kit with a 2.5kW generator, tool tray and air line to platform.