Aerial Lifts Maintenance 101: How to Prevent Problems with Boom Lift Hydraulics?
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Aerial Lifts Maintenance 101: How to Prevent Problems with Boom Lift Hydraulics?

09/04/2023

Keeping up with your lift maintenance work is essential to a well-running aerial lift, but how is this done?

Many multistory buildings rely on lifts to move goods vertically from one floor to the next, utilizing both electric and hydraulic lifts. Today, hydraulic lifts are quieter and more comfortable than electric lifts, while electric lifts are used in spaces with more than 10 floors. However, no matter the system you choose, aerial lift maintenance is essential to operate safely.

To better understand the essential aerial lift maintenance requirements for a safe-running system, our aerial lift cylinder repair company is sharing all the details for preventative maintenance for a well-running machine. Let's get into it!

What Is a Hydraulic Aerial Lift and How Does It Work?

What Is a Hydraulic Aerial Lift and How Does It Work?

Before diving into the aerial lift maintenance guide, what is an aerial lift anyways?

Hydraulic lift systems are utilized to move people or goods vertically, relying on a force from pressurized liquids to move the lift. This system relies on Pascal's Law, which states that a small force on a large area will generate a large force on a small area. With this in mind, various industries such as construction, transport, and automobile industries utilize hydraulic lifts to move goods upwards on a project site.

To move vertically, hydraulic lifts require a piston with a cylinder, oil reservoir, pump, motor, and valve. To lift vertically, the pump pushes the oil toward the cylinder to exert pressure on the piston.

There are many different types of hydraulic lifts available today for use. These include scissor lifts, two-post lifts, four-post lifts, carousel lifts, and mezzanine lifts to name a few. Each of these lifts can be utilized in different situations to best suit your needs.

Common Aerial Lift Issues

There's a reason an aerial lift inspection is so essential. For your personal safety, equipment maintenance is essential to ensure a well-running machine. Since hydraulic systems handle such heavy materials, the lift mechanisms can run into several issues, including:

1. Cylinder Replacement Mishaps

Hydraulic fluid is what supports the platforms on an airlift, and with this in mind, the platform must be adequately secured during maintenance for proper replacement. This can create a dangerous situation in moments when the cylinder can only be accessed if the platform is slightly elevated, especially for an unknowledgeable maintenance worker. Carefully navigating this system is essential to avoid the platform collapsing and harming someone.

2. Defective Boom-Swing Mechanisms

Defective Boom-Swing Mechanisms

On an aerial lift, the boom-swing mechanism is essential for smooth movement when the platform is in the air. This is particularly important when the platform is raised near a dangerous working environment, like near power lines. If this boom-swing mechanism malfunctions due to a faulty valve activation, the platform can move unexpectedly. If your aerial platform lunges unexpectedly, the boom swing must be inspected before further use.

3. Unsecured Platforms

For an aerials forklift to be safe, the platform must be secured with a guardrail to stop workers from stepping too far on the elevated surface. In addition, to prevent the platform from tilting sideways or leaning, it must be tightly secured to the fork.

4. Plummeting Lifts

One of the top safety tips when operating an aerial lift is to never lower It faster than 135 feet per minute. If the lift fails and needs to be lowered to the ground, it must do so slowly.

5. Unoccupied Driver's Seat

No matter what, the driver's seat of a hydraulic aerial lift must be occupied at all times by a licensed operator while it is elevated or manned. At no time should the driver's seat be empty while the platform is in elevation.

Common Reasons for Boom Lift Hydraulics Failure

There are some reasons you may run into JLG boom lift problems. Some of the problems that can impact boom lifts include:

1. Damaged Hydraulic Lines

Damaged Hydraulic Lines

Without proper routing for hydraulic lines, they may become frayed and dangerous, causing vibrations and other undesired movements. This can be prevented when lines are reinforced with protective brackets and clamps, helping improve worker safety.

In addition, lines can fail due to pressures that exceed operating tolerances. Prevent this by selecting lines that are equipped to handle your machine's operation needs.

2. Contamination of Hydraulic Fluids

An essential task in any pre-operation checklist is ensuring that there is no contamination of the hydraulic fluids. Contamination is one of the greatest causes of failure and occurs when impurities make their way into the fluid. When dirt and water enter hydraulic fluid, it ruins both the purity and the viscosity, which causes it to be incapable of fueling the engine correctly, causing a system failure.

3. Hydraulic Seal Failure

Another cause of failure with this heavy equipment is the breakdown of the hydraulic seals. The hydraulic seals must maintain their integrity for the lift to function properly. These seals, especially in humid and hot environments, should be fortified with heat-resistant protective elements as part of regular maintenance to keep them strong. In addition, as part of regular maintenance, make sure your seals are withstanding the chemicals they may encounter in the working environment.

4. Unskilled Technicians

Unskilled Technicians

No matter the project, using a qualified technician to drive and inspect these machines is an absolute must. These professionals will not only know how to operate the machinery for peak performance but also be capable of noticing any issues during daily inspections.

5. Poor Regulation

The operation of aerial lift use is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but this agency does not monitor the servicing and repair work of the equipment. In addition, lift operators may be certified with little training and qualifications, so looking into a trusted team is essentially to lower the risk to workers.

Aerial Lift Maintenance: Tips & Checklist

To help you with your boom lift maintenance for a well-running machine, here is a checklist to follow for your next boom lift inspection.

Pre-Start Inspection Points

Pre-Start Inspection Points

No matter what, every day should begin with an electric scissor lift inspection and function test to ensure everything is operating as it should and to take the time to address and fix any problems before starting the job. Walkaround visual inspections should occur daily at shift changes to prevent any issues from going unnoticed.

These checks include:

  • Checking for visible leakages or foreign objects;
  • Looking for dents, weld or metal cracks, and other visible damage;
  • Checking the machine decals and placards to ensure they are clean and legible;
  • Inspecting scissor arms and centering link, plus the platform gate so it closes properly;
  • Checking the hydraulic fluid levels and cleanliness;
  • Inspection of all applicable manuals are correctly located on the machines.

OSHA General Maintenance Checklist

OSHA General Maintenance Checklist

In addition to the pre-start inspections, OSHA's guidelines for maintenance include:

Operational:

  • Check all fluid levels, including oil, fuel, coolant, and hydraulics;
  • Inspect for any leaks;
  • Check the wheels and tires, looking for work treads, cracks, or bubbles;
  • Make sure the tire pressure is at the right PSI;
  • Test the steering and breaks;
  • Check the battery and charge levels to make sure there are no power drop-offs;
  • Test all emergency controls;
  • Make sure all personal protection devices are in place, including safety harnesses and fall protection gear.

Structural:

Look for signs of problems in:

  • Air, electric, pneumatic, and hydraulic systems;
  • Insulating components;
  • Written warnings, placards, and instructions;
  • Mechanical fasteners and locking pins;
  • Cable and wiring;
  • Outriggers and stabilizers;
  • Guardrails;
  • Loose or missing parts.

Conclusion

No matter how busy the day or how long your operating hours are proper aerial lift maintenance and inspections are not only pertinent to avoid costly repairs but to maintain the safety of your workers.

To better understand these critical inspections and repairs, our boom lift cylinder repair company is here to help. We have experience with all hydraulic, pneumatic, and telescopic cylinders. To learn more, contact us today.

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