20/12/2006 - 06:00 am

Mini Aerial Lift Makes Its Way to North America

Operators on jobs that don't require a lot of lift height but have limited space and low ground pressure often look to miniature aerial lifts because they are compact, maneuverable, and easy to transport. One mini aerial lift of note is the 9'6” tall Leonardo from Braviisol D.M. srl. of Italy. A staple in rental fleets in Europe, the Leonardo is now turning heads in North America.

First introduced in 1995, the Leonardo aerial lift proves ideal for a number of indoor applications, including electrical, HVAC, painting, ceiling tile installation, and cleaning. But the history of the machine goes beyond its introduction.

The Leonardo aerial lift was designed by Braviisol, which started as a plaster board partition and ceiling installation company in the 1970s. By the end of that decade, Braviisol had become one of the largest companies in the Italian installation industry. According to Marina Torres, sales manager for Braviisol, as the company expanded, it needed to work as quickly and efficiently as possible without increasing its workforce. In the mid-1990s, Braviisol built its first miniature aerial lift to meet its working requirements because suitable equipment wasn't readily available in Italy at the time, she added.

“Since the first prototype 11 years ago, Braviisol workers in the installation activity have been using the platform everyday in their daily jobs,” Torres said. The company is unique to the aerial lift industry in the fact that it was first an end-user before it ever started manufacturing machines, she said, adding that the Braviisol has made updates since its introduction to make the Leonardo more reliable, trouble-free, and cost-effective.

Industry exposure

In the rental industry, the Leonardo has been a success throughout Europe. In Norway, UCO rents a fleet of more than 160 units, HAMAR Liftutleie has 30 machines, and HERTZ Materiel recently purchased 36 machines for its rental depots in Denmark and Norway. In the United Kingdom, Brand Tool Hire has adopted Leonardo into its fleet, and Access Plus Scotland added 30 Leonardos to is rental fleet in 2006 alone. Additionally, worldwide construction contractor Skanska has rented more than 60 platforms from UCO to use on the New Akershus University Hospital outside Oslo, Norway.

With a few Leonardos already working in the United States and Canada, Torres said Braviisol is currently developing a marketing plan to expand further into North America. “At this moment, we are just entering the U.S. market, so we are elaborating a strategy together with our partners there,” she said. “For the moment, we are selling directly to rental companies and distributors.” The company is currently looking for partners in North America.

Machine specs and applications

Measuring 30''x48''x66.5'' and weighing only 992 pounds, the Leonardo can pass through standard doorways and load into a small van for easy transportability. On the job, the Leonardo can move between shelves and counters where manual lifts or scaffold often cannot reach • and much more comfortably.

The platform extends on both ends for a 67-inch working area, and the machine can be driven at its full 9'6'' platform height with the maximum load and the platform completely extended. The Leonardo has zero turning radius, 40% gradeability, and a comfortable step height of 21 inches. Powered by two 12V batteries, the Leonardo uses a 110V battery charger to stay up and running. Maximum drive speed is 1.49 mph.

According to Braviisol, the unit is ideal for working in very narrow spaces, including in buildings, shops, and industrial areas. Platform capacity is 397 pounds, and the machine has non-marking tires for indoor applications. Other features include an electronic leveling control, which operates automatically if the platform is moved while still in the raised position and prevents tipovers if the unit is operating at an incline of more than 3 percent. Other than controlling the water levels in the batteries, the Leonardo is virtually maintenance-free.

Compared to the other miniature aerial lifts on the market, Torres said the Leonardo offers lower weight, higher gradeability, and a bigger platform that is extendible on both sides. “[With its zero turning radius] the machine can literally rotate over its own lengths, thus allowing the operator to work even in the narrowest spaces,” she said. “It has an extremely simple design and conception.”

For more information, visit www.braviisol.com, or stop by Booth 4263 at The Rental Show in February.

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