How Far Will Hybrids Expand?

As I write this column, I am in the midst of evaluating this year’s entries in Lift and Access magazine’s Leadership in Lifting Equipment and Aerial Platforms (LLEAP) awards. Soon, I’ll be compiling the scores from all of the judges, who include fleet managers, fleet owners, and all of the MCM Group’s editors.
If the health of the powered access, lifting, and material-handling industries can be estimated by the number and quality of LLEAP entries, all three segments are hearty. I see so many excellent entries this year that judging is even more challenging than normal. Check out the November-December edition of Lift and Access for the full LLEAP results.
Interesting trend
A recent trend in the industry is the expansion of electric and hybrid power into rough-terrain scissor and boom lifts. One of the forces driving this movement is the users’ need for a machine to work both indoors and out without the noise and exhaust of an internal-combustion engine.
But I suspect the next round of clean-air rules, which are likely to aim at reducing greenhouse gases, may also be helping drive hybrid development. An internal-combustion engine puts out greenhouse gases in direct proportion to the amount of fuel it burns. Cutting down an engine’s fuel usage is the main way to reduce greenhouse gas output. Using battery or hybrid power to eliminate the IC engine—or to enable use of a smaller engine that just charges batteries—or to minimize the time an IC engine runs seems a logical way to do that.
I am interested in seeing whether hybrid power finds its way into rough-terrain forklifts, telehandlers, and maybe even small cranes. John Deere has already produced a hybrid wheel loader, so the technology to power high-demand applications exists.
Upcoming events
Speaking of hybrid equipment, Oct. 28-29 will see the exciting 2014 Lift and Access Showcase at the Springhill Suites by Marriott just south of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year’s Showcase will focus on energy-efficient “green” equipment.
The demonstrations and walk-around presentations will cover self-propelled aerial lifts with platform heights to 15 ft.; mast lifts with platform heights to 28 ft.; rough- and all-terrain electric or hybrid scissor lifts with platform heights from 26 to 33 ft.; and hybrid-powered aerial lifts, cranes, and telehandlers. For more information, see page 38 or visit
The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is holding its annual North American convention Oct. 1-2 in Toronto, Ontario. Check out Web Watch on page 46 for the details. I attend every year and always find the information valuable.
Regional qualifying competitions to find the best crane operator in America for 2015 also begin this fall. Crane Institute Certification (CIC) will plan and manage at least eight regional crane operator and rigger skill competitions from fall 2014 through fall 2015. Tentative sites include North Carolina and Alabama in the Southeast, as well as locations in the Northeast, Southwest, Northwest, and Midwest.
CIC will host the western regional competition in Las Vegas at World of Concrete, Feb. 3-6, 2015. In addition to the mobile crane operator competition, the CIC event at World of Concrete will feature a tournament for knuckleboom crane operators.
Top qualifiers from the CIC Regionals will advance to a championship, to be held at a high-profile venue in late 2015. The championship is co-hosted by CIC and Crane & Rigging Hot Line magazine. For more information about regional contest dates and locations, visit
About the Author: 

Mike Larson

Mike Larson has been writing about heavy equipment and construction for more than 25 years. He joined Heartland Communications Group in 2011 as editor of Lift and Access. During his career, he has edited Western Builder and Midwest Construction, and has been a regular contributor to Engineering News-Record and Constructor magazines. Larson also worked in and managed marketing communications for Manitowoc Cranes. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.