01/11/2006 - 06:00 am

From the Tallest to the Smallest: JLG’s aerial lifts meet the needs on both ends of the construction market

Part One

Major players in the aerial work platform industry aim to manufacture equipment that competes in every market imaginable. While equipment trends in recent years have focused on the high-reaching markets • the Genie Z-135/70, the JLG 1350SJP, and the Haulotte HA 130 JRT to name a few • smaller aerial lifts certainly have their place in the construction and rental industries.

McConnellsburg, Pa.-based JLG Industries' latest aerial lift introduction • the micro 1230ES self-propelled vertical lift • adds a new niche dimension to JLG's product offerings. From its tallest self-propelled aerial work platform • the 150HAX articulating boom lift • to the new micro 1230ES self-propelled vertical lift, JLG is intent on covering both the high- and low-reach needs of the construction market.

Reflecting on the Past

In the 1980s, Economy Engineering ventured into the market of “micro” self-propelled vertical lifts for use inside high-rise buildings with the introduction of the Pole Cat. A leading supplier of scissor lifts in the 1970s and 1980s, Economy was ultimately bought out and consolidated with Snorkel. Although a great product, the Pole Cat had limited success because the market had not yet totally embraced the need for a piece of equipment that was compact enough to fit into an elevator and work in multi-story applications. Because working heights in high rises were often less than 12 feet, ladders and scaffolding ruled. In most areas, the cost of labor had yet to reach a point that made it economically feasible to utilize a self-propelled machine.

In the years that followed, other attempts to penetrate this market included a one-person self-propelled lift from Get Smart Scaffold Co. and UpRight's TM12 mast lift, which was introduced in 1994. These products shared a common design • a cantilevered platform elevated by a mast or telescoping tube assembly. UpRight quietly sold thousands of the TM12s and would likely be the market leader today had it not been for the financial and ownership difficulties the company had labored with until recently.

In 2004, Custom Equipment, West Bend, Wis., recognized the relative void in the market and introduced its own machine, the Hybrid micro-scissor lift, to penetrate this market. Unlike the TM12, the Hybrid utilizes a true scissor design and features a larger platform • features that Custom Equipment markets as advantages.

Today high-rise construction is at a record pace worldwide. More high-rise condos and hotels are being built or planned than at any other time in history. Couple the construction of literally hundreds of these projects with the ever-growing shortage of skilled labor, and the opportunities and applications for this kind of equipment is incredibly ripe.

Now enter JLG with its all new 1230ES aerial lift. Dave Baxter, director of marketing for JLG, was involved with marketing the TM12 when he worked at UpRight. He knows first-hand the potential for this product and is quite excited about its prospects.

Although JLG has weighed the possibility of getting into this market for some time, a micro machine was not on the top of the list of priorities • until now. “As specific product opportunities become more scarce, we have to look at more specialized or niche products to grow our product line,” Baxter said, signaling that JLG will be looking at more specialized products to back fill its already comprehensive product line.

The 1230ES

The 1230ES's nomenclature stands for its 12 feet of platform height and 30-inch width, and it is designated as an electric scissor lift (ES). I know what you are thinking, and no, this machine does not have a scissor-style lifting mechanism. As you can see in the Image 2, this is a mast machine.

Since it shares virtually every component with the electric scissor line and works alongside them in similar applications and markets, the 1230ES has been grouped with the Pro-Fit scissor family. If you are familiar with the UpRight TM12, you will not be surprised at the look of the newest JLG. Very similar in concept, the difference lies in the execution of the product.

The unit I had a chance to see and operate was one of several produced for validation. Although there could always be some changes with the way it is put together, this unit operates and looks exactly like the final product will look and feel.

The biggest difference between the JLG 1230ES and the UpRight TM12 has to be the lifting mechanism. While both are mast machines, the JLG differs in that it uses an all-hydraulic lift assembly in lieu of a combination cylinder and chain assembly. Shown in Image 2, a three-stage hydraulic cylinder is located inside the inverted telescoping tube. The tube is inverted to prevent debris from gathering and filtering down the outside. Short of any leaks, you should never have to pull this assembly apart for service or repair.

As previously stated, the ES designation was given to this unit because it shares so many components and applications with the electric scissor lift line. For example, the very efficient and quiet-running direct-drive Fairfield electric scissor lift drive system is used. This system marries the direct-drive motor to the front axle spindle to produce a single integral drive package. The motor controller, which produces proportional lift, drive, and steering function, and the platform controls are common as well. Other similar features shared with the Pro-Fit scissor lifts include a mechanical pothole protection system and swing-out steel battery doors with heavy duty hinges and automatic traction control. Even the battery charger is the same. A 1,000-watt AC inverter/charger is an available option.The platform is all steel and you enter it via a set of “saloon-style” doors, which are spring-loaded and allow very easy ingress and egress (see Image 3). Capacity on the 27X 49 inch platform is a full 500 pounds. Other standard features include 110 VAC wiring to the platform and a handy little tool tray in the top corner at guardrail

height. Although the one shown in Image 4 may not be exactly the way the final product comes out, you get the idea • coffee anyone?

As is the case with all JLG products, the operator's comfort and safety are top priorities. I will discuss the operation of this machine and give you my first-hand impressions, as well as go into the way the 1230ES is put together in the next issue of Lift and Access 360.

Part Two

As the opportunities to expand its existing product line narrows, McConnellsburg, Pa.-based JLG Industries is more likely to look at niche products with greater priority for development. The company's latest aerial lift introduction • the micro 1230ES self-propelled vertical lift • adds new dimension to JLG's extensive product line. See Part One for a historical perspective and competitive comparison on this product segment.

At 4'6” x 2'6” wide, the 1,740-pound 1230ES is designed to fit in most freight or construction elevators. That specification is important since this unit is intended almost exclusively for high-rise applications. That isn't to say you won't find them elsewhere. I expect to see these machines in strip malls, medical centers and commercial buildings of all shapes and sizes. It's also feasible that they'll find a place in the residential market, especially among high-end properties.

Up close

Entering the 500-pound capacity deck is accomplished through a set of swinging saloon-style doors. As you can see in Image 2, the hinges are encased in plastic to minimize rust and exposure to grit.

They are also quite large and should stand up to the rigors of any jobsite. Ingress to the all-steel deck is simple as you can use your body to push them open. A bit more effort and coordination is required to exit since it requires both hands to hold the gates open while turning to back off the platform.

Often used in tight quarters, it is important that self-propelled vertical lifts exhibit tight turns executed with precision. The 1230ES turns inside of a 4'10” circle. Smooth control is delivered through the large upper control station (see Image 3). The robust joystick, constructed of high-impact poly material, controls the drive and lift functions. Working to command a motor controller system, it provides infinitely proportional control of both drive and lift speeds.

The box is fixed to the deck on tabs that fit

into slots on the guardrails. It can be removed by simply pulling a spring-loaded locking pin. The Fairfield-supplied direct drive system, common to all JLG Pro-Fit scissor lifts, delivers the smooth, quite and precise drive required for working in the tight environments typical of high-rise construction.

The 1230ES not only operates smoothly but it delivers a solid feel, something I hadn't expected from a lift of this size. The observation of its overall ruggedness is helped by the fact that the only thing on the machine that isn't made of steel is the control box!

Power comes from four 220 AMP/hour batteries. As you can see Image 5, the batteries are mounted to a pair of swing-out service trays, one on each side. This large battery pack works in conjunction with an operating system that is so efficient that it produces more than 200 duty cycles. A battery condition indicator located on

the upper control box keeps the operator informed of the batteries' charge level status. However, operators won't have to keep that close of an eye on the level since JLG calculates that the 3012ES will work for up to three days on a single charge. When it does come time to recharge, a charger provided by Delta Q is hidden under the easy-to-remove entry steps. If you order the optional Xantrax onboard power inverter you will find it located here as well.

Since the drive system is all electric, the lift and steering functions are the only features that require a hydraulic supply. Of course, on machine's this compact, it takes creativity to establish a location for all components. On the 1230ES, the hydraulic supply system is tucked in the center of the base (see Image 7). Supplied by Hydac, the tight pump motor package is accessible after the batteries are swung out of the way.

Although the location of the pump motor is cause for some concern, in light of the system's track record and the over-all simplicity of the package, I would expect the motor to perform for years without trouble.

Other items worth noting

The powder-coat finish is as nice as found on any JLG product. And, for added safety, a mechanical pothole protection system and all-motion alarm, are standard features. There is also a drive cut out sensor that prevents operation if it senses a slope greater than 1.5 degrees side to side and three degrees front to back. The operator is also notified audibly when this inner-lock is activated. The high drive cut-out is activated when the platform is raised about three inches above the stowed position.

JLG has picked the right time to move this unit to the top of its priorities list. The OEM list price is a stout $14,950, but if it makes that journeyman tradesman twice as productive it is a real steal at twice the price.

Likes: Substantial look and feel, smooth operation, easy ingress.

Dislikes: Egress through the saloon gates can be a tad tricky.

Verdict: Whether it is used on the 1st or the 60th floor this quality high-rise lift will sell like popcorn.

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