20/09/2006 - 05:00 am

Simple Fit and Finish: Feature-packed boom lift follows Haulotte’s straightforward design philosophy

Part One

When you are the world's third largest producer of aerial work platforms, you need to have a product to compete in each popular market segment. One of the most popular • and for many years, fastest growing • segment has been the 80-foot platform height rough-terrain boom lift. This applies to both the conventional/straight and articulating configurations. To compete in this market segment, The Haulotte Group, L'Horme, France, introduced the HA80JRT boom lift to the global market in 2005 and started importing machines into North America in early 2006.

Haulotte's HA80JRT boom lift has what I call a hybrid boom design • part conventional, part articulating. The upper section is a long, single telescoping boom that is about 50 feet long when it is extended. The lower section is a dual parallelogram riser that elevates the upper boom. While this is a very simple and reliable design option, it does produce a 3'6” tail swing. While it's not a major deal, the operator must keep the riser elevated to eliminate or limit that dimension. Of course, this design allows for increased up-and-over capabilities.

Although intended to compete in the 80-foot market segment, the platform height of the HA80JRT is actually a tad shy at 77 feet. The maximum horizontal reach of slightly more than 53 feet is achieved at a clearance of about 20 feet. Topping it all off is a hydraulically actuated jib that allows a 140-degree vertical range of motion.

Productive standard features

Haulotte makes up for the minor height shortfall by offering up several highly productive features as standard equipment. Most noteworthy is the fact that this unit rides on a fixed 7'8” wide chassis. With no axles to extend, this unit can access a lot of areas not available to most competitors. Adding to its compact width, the HA80JRT comes standard with four-wheel drive and, even more impressive, four-wheel steer. The narrow width and no tailswing capabilities combined with four-wheel and crab steering options make this one maneuverable machine. Additionally, all four tires come foam-filled as standard.

Adhering to the company's simple-design philosophy, the control box (shown in Image 3) is laid out in a simple, straight-forward manner. You can see what I mean by looking at the upper control console in Image 3 and the lower control box shown in Image 4. A substantial joystick drives the machine with an integral steering selector mounted on top. I found drive response and braking to be excellent even when operating boom functions, with the exception of the telescoping function, are controlled by the pair of joysticks shown on the left of the box. Operation of any function relating to the two substantial and well-positioned multi-function joysticks was smooth and precise.

There are two basket size options: a standard 72”x36” and an optional 96”x31”. As you can see in Image 5 and the close up in Image 6, the platform incorporates a unique guard-rail design, which is intended to increase structural robustness. But I have to wonder how hard this is to repair when it gets bent?

Although the literature makes reference to a platform load limiter, this is strictly a European requirement. Units delivered to North America are not fitted with this device.

The Haulotte Group describes its products as simple in design and construction. By following this philosophy, the company produces a line of IC boom lifts that have a lot in common. Virtually all valves and components that make up the control system in this unit are interchangeable with all other Haulotte IC boom lifts. In addition, the proprietary microprocessor-based control system is common throughout the entire boom product range, and an external pendent allows for both control optimization and self-diagnostics.

In my next installment, I will explore in greater detail the design of the Haulotte HA80JRT, and provide my operational observations of the machine.

Part Two

As a leading producer of aerial work platforms, it is almost a necessity to produce equipment to compete in every viable marketplace. So, the Haulotte Group, L'Horme, France, created the HA80JRT boom lift, a machine that will compete with other 80 foot rough terrain boom lifts in an already highly competitive sector. As one of the fastest growing and most popular pieces of equipment in the boom lift market, the Haulotte Group had their work cut out for them, but they met the challenge. The HA80JRT was introduced to the global market in 2005 and landed in the United States in early 2006. The company's simple design and construction philosophy has allowed it to develop a product that has much in common with other Haulotte boom lifts, and more can be read about this in Part One.

I also looked at some of the basics, including controls and basic machine dimensions. As I said previously, the HA80JRT is very similar to other Haulotte boom lifts, and this continues to be evident through the rest of the machine.

Making it tick

A 57-hp Deutz model F4 L 2011 air-cooled diesel engine supplies the power. I like the size of this engine. It offers plenty of power to accomplish the job but is not overkill. Likewise, fuel consumption should be reasonable. If you plan to operate the machine in any severe climates • either hot or cold • it would be wise to consider purchasing the optional hot or cold weather packages.

As you can see in Image 2, this is a very clean and roomy engine installation • one of the nicest I've ever seen. On the left of the engine is a

lone variable-displacement pump, which supplies the four OMSS 100 Sauer-Danfoss-supplied drive motors. Featuring 100-cc displacement, the SS signifies that these motors are short or compact in size. Although the engine is not fitted to a swing- out service tray, there is an abundance of space! On closer inspection, I found every service point to be wide open, thus rendering a swing-out tray pointless.

Throughout the machine, much attention has been given to protect and extend the hydraulic hose and electric cable life. Additionally, every piece of metal or hardware has been zinc-treated to reduce corrosion. Image 3 is a perfect example of some of the steps taken to

protect the hoses and plated hardware components throughout the HA80JRT. Also shown in the photo are the adjustable wear pads. Threaded and collared nipples enable easy adjustment of the hockey puck-shaped UHMW slide pads. In addition, they can be conveniently replaced from the outside of the boom housing by removing three bolts that hold the backing plate in place.

Although the hydraulic and fuel filler necks are located next to each other, care has been taken to prevent accidental cross contamination. As you can see in the Image 4, there is a steel flange on the oil cap to prevent this.

Operational Observations

Whenever I travel to review a piece of equipment, I can never count on the weather. Although it is usually dry, every once in a while my party gets rained on, which was the case at Haulotte's Hanover, Md. Facility. Between the rain showers, I eventually got an opportunity to see how the newest Haulotte boom lift performs.

With lots of inventory in Haulotte's main North American facility and trucks coming and going, space to operate was limited. However, there was sufficient room to get a feel for how the controls performed, as well as appreciate the features of this new product. I was concerned that the 57-hp Deutz engine and the single Sauer-Danfoss pump would not be sufficient to deliver the power and flow needed for true multifunction operation. But, I was pleasantly surprised that simultaneous operation of even the most demanding functions proved successful.

Another notable performance feature on the Haulotte HA80JRT includes the manually controlled differential lock, which is exclusive to Haulotte products. When you want all four wheels to pull with equal power, you must toggle the differential lock switch on the upper control station. Once activated, the lock stays activated for as long as the switch is held in position. Haulotte believes that this system is better than full-time, four-wheel drive, rationalizing that this reduces unnecessary demands on the four-wheel drive system. It also reduces tire wear and/or the potential for damage due to tire scuffing when the extra traction of four-wheel drive is not recquired. This reasoning sounds logical but when my right hand is on the drive joystick controller, I would sure like to have my left hand on something other than this little switch as I am bouncing across a demanding jobsite. Tall 15Rx22 tires provide 17 inches of ground clearance.

Allowing for 180-degrees platform rotation is the Helac rotation actuator, which is highly thought of throughout the industry. The only issue I have with this product is the use of a screw drive to rotate the superstructure. Haulotte has used this type of rotation actuator since they first started building boom lifts, and they claim to have excellent reliability. My issue has less to do with reliability and more to do with rigidity. Although nice and tight when new, rotational lash becomes more pronounced as the unit ages and then requires adjustments that never really feel as tight as when it is new. Especially on bigger units like this, I prefer the industry standard planetary drive with integral brake, which is almost exclusively provided by Fairfield Manufacturing. While this is really a personal preference, it is one that I think would really enhance this product.

I first operated a Haulotte boom lift in 1998, and after reviewing the Haulotte HA80JRT boom lift, the biggest impression it made on me was the remarkable improvement in quality between the very first machine and this machine. From then until now, the design, fit, and finish have been improved substantially. Overall, I expect this unit to be a contender in the 80-foot boom lift market.

Likes

  • The HA80JRT features simple, reliable construction.
  • The machine's narrow width and standard four-wheel drive and steer enable it to have flexible access on the job.
  • The modestly sized Deutz engine is an efficient power source.

Dislikes

  • Worm or screw-style slewing drive loses its rigidness over time.
  • Unusual platform construction may make it difficult to repair.
  • When bouncing across a demanding jobsite, it would be nice to be able to hold onto something besides the four-wheel drive switch.

Verdict

Although slightly shorter than 80 feet, the highly maneuverable and feature-packed HA80JRT delivers on the philosophy of simplicity in design and construction.


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