The concept of battery-powered rough terrain scissor lifts is not new. They have been around for years, and Lift and Access featured them at its 2009 Showcase. For the most part, however, battery-driven RTs have been somewhat of a niche-market product. Most commonly, contractors have met their scissor lift needs by using diesel- or gas-powered RT scissor lifts during a project’s early stages, when the machines need to travel outdoors on gravel, grass, or dirt. Then, as construction progresses and a building is enclosed, the RT scissor lifts are replaced with electrically powered slab scissors that can work indoors without giving off exhaust fumes or marking floors.
Over the past couple of years, the need to reduce operating costs and minimize engine emissions has driven the industry to look for more efficient ways of using scissor lifts. One way to become more cost effective was to eliminate the need to switch lifts mid-project. To meet that need, equipment manufacturers are developing scissor lifts that can work both outdoors and indoors and stay on a job from start to finish. Snorkel went the route of developing models that are powered by a diesel engine while working outside, then switch to exhaust-free battery power for interior work. JLG, McConnellsburg, Pa., is still going strong with its long-standing 3369 LE and 4069 LE, both introduced in 2001. Although they operate on battery power, each can be equipped with an on-board diesel generator that kicks in to recharge the batteries on worksites where exhaust is acceptable.
In the past year and a half, or so, MEC Aerial Work Platforms, Kerman, Calif., and Terex AWP/Genie, Redmond, Wash., have developed new lines of battery-powered rough-terrain scissor lifts that run on batteries whether working indoors or out. The new offerings are amping up industry interest in this kind of equipment.
New all-electric models introduced
Both MEC models run on 48V DC power provided by eight 6V 250-amp/hour deep-cycle batteries. They also feature four-wheel drive, the ability to drive with platform at full height, fully proportional controls, and a 250-lb. capacity sheet-material rack designed and manufactured by MEC. The scissor system is MEC’s patented Powerlift2 with lubrication-free bearings.
On both models, travel power comes from electrically driven hydraulics.
The 2659 and 3259 Crossover ERTs use the same 46"x91" platform with a 42.5-in. roll-out extension can lengthen the platform to 133.5 in. The extension can be locked in intermediate positions. Maximum capacity is 1,000 lbs. for the 2659 and 750 lbs. for the 3259. The roll-out extension has a capacity of 250 lbs. MEC’s manager of strategic development,
Matthew Gauer, says: “Reduced repair and maintenance is an important benefit of electric RT scissor lifts. I’ve heard of customers reducing those costs from the 8% expected with an internal-combustion unit to less than 1% with an electric model.”
Terex AWP/Genie previewed its batterypowered GS-4069 DC rough-terrain scissor lift in November 2011 at the Lift and Access Showcase and Symposium, then officially launched the three-model DC family in February 2012 at The Rental Show. The first production units rolled out of Genie’s factory during August.
With the launch of the new DC models, Genie has stopped making its existing GS-2668 DC and GS-3268 DC electric scissor lifts. Genie’s new family of battery-powered RT scissor lifts includes the 26-ft. GS 2669 DC, the 32'8" GS-3369 DC, and the 40-ft. GS-4069 DC.
All three models can be driven with the platform at full height, and Genie says the GS-4069 DC is the world’s first electrically powered rough-terrain scissor lift that can be driven with the platform elevated to 40 ft.
All three models run on 48V electrical power from eight 6V deep-cycle batteries. GS-2669 DC and GS-3369 DC use 225-amp-hour batteries. The GS-4069 DC uses 315-amp-hour batteries. Also, all three share the same 63"x110" platform, with a 60-in. slide-out extension that lengthens the platform to 170 in. The fully extended platform holds 12-ft. sheets of drywall. The GS-2669 DC has 1,500 lbs. of capacity, while the GS-3369 DC and GS-4069 have 1,000 and 800 lbs., respectively. The platform extension is rated for 300 lbs. on all three models.
Genie’s battery-powered DC-Series lifts use the same chassis, axles (including active oscillation), tires, scissor stack, and platform as its internal-combustion units.
The electrically powered models are,however, available only with two-wheel drive. Travel power comes from two sealed, AC, direct-drive electric motors. “AC drive motors offer at least three advantages,” said Jeff Weido, senior product manager for Terex AWP. “They are efficient; they’re maintenance free; and they deliver very smooth, precise control.”
Active axle oscillation, steering, and platform raising are powered by an electrically driven hydraulic system.
Genie’s DC RT scissor lifts use the company’s proprietary SmartLink controls, which include onboard diagnostics, customizable performance characteristics, and the ability to upgrade software remotely.
Both MEC and Genie report that customers working on a wide range of projects across the country are pleased with the new electricallypowered RT scissor lifts.
“General construction companies, sheetrockers, glaziers, fire-protection installers, electricians, plumbers—craft workers in virtually any trade like the all-purpose capability of the Crossover machines,” said MEC’s Gauer.
Tim Johnson, who owns several commercial properties near Smyrna, Del., bought a MEC 3259 Crossover ERT for his crews to use in constructing, maintaining, and remodeling his company’s buildings. “We bought the Crossover because it can work anywhere, indoors or out,” he said. “For example, we can build new walls and racks inside a warehouse without noise or exhaust disturbing current tenants.” Johnson also mentioned liking the non-marking tires, built-in material rack, four-wheel drive, and ability to drive at full height.
Rich DiMarco is executive vice president of Admar Supply Co. Inc., Rochester, N.Y., which has six branches that serve nearly all of New York and northern Pennsylvania. Admar has purchased 30 MEC 2659 Crossover ERTs for its rental fleet. “Customers like that the electric RT scissor lifts can stay on the job from start to finish,” says DiMarco. “They have the power to work off slab and the non-marking tires to work on slab, too.” DiMarco also mentioned low maintenance, elimination of fuel cost, and the sheet-material rack as customer favorites. Admar’s electric RT scissor lifts are seeing 80 to 90% utilization rates.
Although Genie just began delivering its new DC-powered models last summer, the company conducted nearly a year of field tests with potential customers across North America.
“Overall, our customers have been genuinely thrilled with the machines, and the initial feedback has been very positive,” said Genie’s Weido. “Demand has been very high, and customers like the diversity these machines provide.” King Equipment LLC, Ontario, Calif., was among the first buyers of Genie’s new electric RT scissor lifts. Founder and owner Ernie Quijada says King Equipment serves all of southerm California with an extensive rental fleet that now includes six GS-4069 DC units.
King added the GS-4069 DC lifts to its fleet in August and now plans to add more. “We haven’t seen them since we bought them,” says general manager Paul Schlerf. “We took delivery, immediately put them out on rent, and they haven’t been back to our yard since.” Schlerf added that the ability to work a job from start to finish was a key consideration in King’s purchase of the Genie units. He also noted that, “Forty-foot platform height, the ability to travel at full elevation, and being able to work exhaust-free inside are important features.”
King service manager Mike Burns helped evaluate the Genie GS-4069 DC before the company bought them. “The proportional electric controls are unbelievably smooth and precise,” he said. “You can literally travel or elevate a fraction of an inch without any jerking.”
Burns also was impressed by the high-quality components. “When I saw valves, hoses, controls, a pump, motors, and other components from industry leaders, I had a sense that this is a well-built machine that will work reliably and last a long time,” he said.
While no one solution is right for every project or preference, it appears that batterypowered rough-terrain scissor lifts are destined to become much more than niche products.