Select Your Region

North America

Latin America

Europe

Middle East

Africa

Russia

India

Pacific Rim

Australia and New Zealand

  • Australia and New Zealand
  • English
HomeDirectAccessThe Benefits of Hybrid Machines

The Benefits of Hybrid Machines

Mike Larson
Editorial Director
____
Lift and Access Magazine

Equipment

The Benefits of Hybrid Machines

Expert Q&A - Mar 18

What factors are driving the need for hybrid machines on job sites?

One major factor is the industry’s growing focus on sustainability and the need to minimize the impact of equipment on air quality. That awareness mirrors our society’s overall focus on sustainability in all aspects of life. The desire to be greener overall is affecting project owner and contractor attitudes. More of them want cleaner and greener equipment on their projects.

A second factor is legislation. Federal and state clean-air standards are requiring off-road construction equipment powered by diesel engines to reduce the amount of particulate matter (soot) and oxides of nitrogen given off during operation. The final and strictest requirements, called Tier 4, have already affected most horsepower ranges of diesel engines. The last group, engines producing 75 to 173 hp, had to meet the Tier 4 criteria starting in January 2015. One way to help equipment meet the stricter emission regulations is to run it on batteries and use a smaller diesel engine to supplement the battery power or to run a small generator that charges the batteries when needed. If the diesel engine is smaller and can run less, the lift puts out fewer emissions. Hybrid power systems can do that.

If the diesel engine is smaller and can run less, the lift puts out fewer emissions. Hybrid power systems can do that.

I have not yet confirmed this, but I suspect that a third force driving the trend toward hybrid-powered lifts may be the next expected target of air-quality standards: greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are created when an internal-combustion engine burns fuel. Experts tell me that the only way to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas put out by an engine is to reduce the amount of fuel it burns. One way to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas a piece of equipment produces would be to power it with a hybrid system that relies primarily on battery power with a small generator used only for recharging the batteries or to use a hybrid system that lets the machine run on electric or other power so the gas or diesel engine could spend much of the day turned off.

A fourth factor that’s making hybrid lifts more popular on job sites is the efficiency of keeping a lift on-site from the project’s start to its finish. That goal has given rise to a growing number of aerial lifts that can work as rough-terrain lifts at the start of a project, then continue working on finished floors inside the enclosed building until the last light bulb is installed.

What motivates project owners to adopt hybrid machines?

Some project owners want to have environmentally friendly equipment working on their projects for the carbon credits they can earn. Others like it because being “green” is part of their company focus. And still others want lower-emission equipment on their sites because it’s quieter and cleaner. Whatever the reason, if a project owner wants hybrid equipment on the job site, the contractors working there will comply whenever possible.

Are there other benefits to using hybrids?

Hybrid power systems that use battery power plus a small internal-combustion generator let a scissor or boom lift operate for extended periods on unimproved sites early in a project when there’s nowhere to plug in for recharging. Some hybrid units that are equipped with a generator can even provide AC power to drive electric tools.

As the project progresses and the lift moves inside, it can run primarily on battery power for quiet, exhaust-free operation. If the construction project is taking place in or near a working building, such as a hospital, library, office building or school, the quietness of operation is also a big plus.

What does this trend in hybrid machines mean for business owners?

For rental companies and contractors, being able to use the same hybrid aerial lift for a project from start to finish saves the transportation cost of replacing an outdoor-only machine with an indoor-only model. Not having to switch out machines during a job is more economical for both the rental company and the end user. Avoiding that kind of switch eliminates any possibility of the rental company not having an indoor lift available when the contractor wants to make the change.

For rental companies and contractors, being able to use the same hybrid aerial lift for a project from start to finish saves the transportation cost of replacing an outdoor-only machine with an indoor-only model.

Also, using combination rough-terrain/indoor hybrid scissor and boom lifts gives a contractor more equipment flexibility to meet a project’s changing workflow demands. If, for example, a sudden need for more lifts to work inside arises, the hybrid lifts on site can be moved from outside to inside to fill the void.

Finally, I’ve been told that some contractors like using hybrid lifts because they use less fuel than conventional diesel-powered machines. In many cases, a hybrid lift can be plugged into on-site power to recharge its batteries overnight, so the generator hardly has to run at all.