What Are Bucket Truck Material Handlers?

Bucket truck material handlers (M/H) are modified versions of this traditional truck. They were developed to handle without difficulty the movement or lifting of heavy objects most likely in addition to supporting personnel also located in the bucket. The material handler part of the vehicle is commonly used by electric or cable linemen, signage workers, arborists and painters, to name a few.

The particular job duties of these workers frequently include the need to lift heavy equipment up with them, either to be installed at the final location or to be used at that extended height. Electrical line workers may need to install a transformer; an arborist might need a chain-saw to work on a tree; signage workers may be placing a heavy sign or parts of a sign, etc. As a result, the material handlers were designed to facilitate this greater need than many of the average uses of the bucket truck.

Factors Affecting Usage

Needless to say, not all of the above jobs referenced are going to need the exact same kind of equipment in the course of their duties. So there are different models and configurations of material handlers to meet each need, each of which requires consideration of certain factors in order to know the correct specifications required of each material handler. Listed below are some of those factors.

  • Upper Boom Lift Capacity – As the angle of the lift changes, so does the lift capacity. This ability increases as the angle of the higher arm approaches a 90 degree or vertical position. In the vertical posture, the upper boom has its greatest lifting capacity. On the other hand, the raising ability decreases at 0 degrees or 180 degrees relative to the ground or the horizontal position since gravity places increased lateral stress on the boom as it moves toward the ground. In the horizontal bearing, the upper boom has its lowest upward power.
  • Lower Boom Lift Capacity – Similarly to the above example, the lower boom can be placed at various angles relative to the ground. The lifting capacity increases as this arm approaches the vertical stance. At this point, it has its greatest raising efficiency and as with the upper boom, the lower arm has its lowest raising power in the horizontal stance. Lift capacity decreases as this lower boom approaches the horizontal position.

Factors affecting Lift Capacity

By the prior examples, it can be seen that the raising ability for a material handling bucket truck varies depending on the placement of both the upper and lower boom at any particular point. It is important for the operator to study and understand the manufacturer’s load limitations based on the specific model being used. Two other factors impact the upward handling capacity these vehicles: jib assembly position and the type of personnel bucket being used.

  • Jib Assembly Position – The lift capacity of the jib is affected by its bearing just as it is with the boom. When it is in the vertical bearing, it has its greatest upward efficiency. When it is in the horizontal posture, it has its lowest raising capacity. The jib can usually be extended and retracted as well. The lift capacity is the greatest when it is fully retracted. By extending the jib, the elevating power of the system is reduced.
  • Personnel Bucket Type – The quantity or type of personnel buckets used can affect the system’s lift capacity. Two line workers in one or a two basket assembly can lessen the raising scope of the material handler being used.

All of these factors including the position of the upper and lower booms, the position of the jib, and the type of bucket being used factor into the rated lift capacity of a material handling bucket truck.

Always be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations and the specific lift charge for the equipment being used. A different job in the field requires different positions of the upper boom, the lower boom and the jib. The number of buckets required to perform a job may also vary. Since all of these conditions affect the lift capacity and are subject to change, users are required to know how to determine the truck’s safe lifting capacity under a variety of conditions.

Learning as much information as possible about material handlers will enable those who work in these industries or similar types of working conditions to properly use this unique apparatus to their advantage and to the better completion of a job assignment!

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