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

Many factors are helping drive the trend toward using more hybrid-powered scissor and boom lifts on construction 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. 

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 lightbulb is installed. 

answer provided by Mike Larson