Spider lifts - an advancing sector
By Euan Youdale22 April 2021
There is a great deal of activity in the tracked platform, spider lift sector. AI rounds up the manufacturers’ latest launches and product plans.
The tracked platform sector, or spider lifts, as they are commonly known, continue to evolve with a raft of newly launched models and an equally impressive range of future products. This product type has always lent itself to hybrid and electric options and this is an area that is being refined and developed. As is one of the biggest challenges in the sector; that of combining greater performance on ever more compact and lighter chassis.
The latest equipment from Hinowa is the TeleCrawler TC13 N and TC13 S. The N (narrow) version was launched in April 2020, while the S (standard) version was presented earlier this year.
The unique feature of Hinowa’s first telescopic tracked platform is the all-electric drive. The undercarriage is constructed by using electric traction motors which allow it to travel on electric power only, without the use of hydraulic oil.
In the fourth quarter of 2021 Hinowa will follow it up with the launch of the second model in the range, the TeleCrawler TC22. It will also be in two versions, the TC22N and TC22S. The lightweight model, at less than 3 tonnes, can reach a working height of 22m and has an outreach up to 12.5m.
It will offer three different drive options: Kubota diesel engine + 230 V electric engine, bi-energy drive (Kubota Z602 diesel engine + lithium-ion battery pack) and the full electric version. In addition, all the models feature automatic straight flush telescopic boom extension control as well as Go Home and Go Back functions.
Davide Fracca, VP of sales and marketing at Hinowa, says the biggest trend in the industry is a move to lightweight, compactness machines, with greater technology. “Rental companies need to be as flexible as possible, adapting to their customers’ entire working situations. Therefore they are showing a great interest toward technologically advanced, environmentally and user-friendly aerial platorms that can be equipped with different power units.”
On the compact angle, Falcon Lifts introduced a line of what it decribes as “smaller” lifts in January. The models range from 13m - 27m, mounted on tracks, with articulated Z-booms. The series completes the manufacturer’s workinh height range from 13m to 52m.
The new range offers dual power, available with a lithium power pack as an option, and is compact enough to pass through single doors, and light weight enough to travel on sensitive floors. Equipped with a remote access system, via GSM, there online service support from the Falcon service team.
Next up will be a 43m model on Falcon’s Vario chassis, offering a single track system and enhanced working height and side reach. In addition, a 38m Falcon with an enhanced basket load of 450kg is also set to be launched on the Vario chassis the second quarter of this year. A third, new development will be introduced at the end of the year. Information on that willl follow soon.
Falcon Lifts has lways offered hybrid machines with dual power: batteries and combustion engine. “But some markets/customers show an increased interest in pure electric and lithium power,” says Brian Falck-Schmidt, Falcon sales director, “Especially lifts that are intended for use in cities with no-emission restrictions”.
As well as zero emissions, Schmidt sees opportunities in more lightweight and versatile units for both indoor and outdoor operation, along with increasing basket loads to a minimum of 250kg.
Easy Lift has also been going compact. The RA24 is a “very compact spider”, says the company, with a double pantograph that has different features from all the other models of its current range. It is also a very simply hydraulically powered machine, with a load capacity of 230kg and an unrestricted working diagram.
The new RA24 can reach a working height of 23.5m and an outreach of 12m with 230kg in the basket. The outrigger footprint is compact 2.5m. As standard, it is equipped with extending tracks, 80°+80° basket rotation and radio control by Scanreco. At an equally compact 5.2m length without the basket, 2m high and 0.9m wide, it is available with Kubota diesel engine and electric 110V or 220V AC motor, as well as a hybrid version, with the addition of lithium battery.
The company is also restyling its small range of spiders from 13m to 18m, as well as its telescopic range from 26m to 42m. Furthermore, Easy Lift is introducing a medium height doubled-pantograph platform, the RA24, to meet demand for this type of product. While, on the other hand, the demand for spider lifts higher than 42m remains limited from markets like China, India or the UAE, it is becoming strong enough that the company has decided to present a spider lift over 42m working height.
“Today, our sector is undergoing a great challenge,” says Easy Lift sales director Manuela Vender, as it tries to meet some emerging needs such as the demand for a more developed environmental sustainability programme. “Customers need platforms that can combine a higher working efficiency with a reduced energy consumption. We are convinced that the market demand for battery operated or even more hybrid platforms will increase.”
For this reason, the company already offers all its models in battery version (BA) or hybrid version (HY), combining three power sources; combustion engine, electric motor and lithium battery.
Customers also require increasingly customised platforms to make them more flexible across applications, with winches being a notable request. That is why Easy Lift has implemented a 500kg load capacity winch option on its R260, R300, R360 and R420 models and a 230kg on the RA31 and soon to be launched RA24.
Platform Basket has also widened its winch offerings, by adding the optional extra of a 250kg capacity winch on the 22m working height Spider 22.10 and 27m working height Spider 27.14 models.
The units can have their baskets replaced with the winch in a matter of minutes and in a few easy steps, says the manufacturer.
In its drive to more environmentally-friendly solutions, Platform Basket is moving to lithium ion batteries, replacing the more conventional lead-acid option. “This decision brings benefits not only in environmental terms, but also in terms of bulk and versatility,” says the company.
To complete its current range of tracked products, the company will soon launch the Spider 39T, which has a telescopic boom and is equipped with extending tracks and simple and intuitive remote control.
With a maximum working height of 39m, the Spider 39T will be available in standard and hybrid versions. Its remote control and double speed of movement complements the automatic stabilisation. In addition the booms retract within the profile of the chassis for operations in narrow spaces.
As Patform Basket adds, the platform is designed to be extremely stable and easily transportable, and together with its compact dimensions and rubber tracks make it ideal for tree pruning, maintenance works, painting and other work areas that are difficult to access with traditional aerial platforms.
In recent years, Platform Basket has also invested in improving its remote diagnostics systems, which is already offered as an option on its spiders and rail division equipment.
The new Platform Basket Telematics (PBT) system consists of hardware containing an integrated international data SIM that sends all essential data of the machine to a cloud platform. Information includes geolocation, working hours and rate, load cell data and active or previous alarms. The software provides a dedicated web portal with protected access to the data saved in the cloud.
Even if there is no signal coverage, for example while equipment is working in tunnels, the data is saved on an integrated memory card and sent to the cloud when the signal is restored.
Palazzani Industrie has been expanding its winch options and range of models too. The company’s new high-capacity winch for its XTJ 52+ spider lift is the latest offering. With its maximum lifting capacity of 980kg, the newly developed hydraulic winch offers an increase from the model’s standard 500kg capacity winch.
The option allows operators to replace the model’s 400kg basket with the winch to transform the model from a spider lift into a spider crane.
Palazzani has also been moving up the working height spectrum on its TZX series, with a 25m working height model. The TZX 250 is the tallest in the TZX family of spider lifts, which ranges from 17m and offers articulating and telescopic boom configuration.
The boom system is designed to offer agility in the air and a feeling of stability in the basket, thanks to the aluminium structure and above average-size booms sections. The 25m working height is available without restriction across the working envelope, and offers a maximum outreach of 10.6m, with a low operating weight of 2,660kg.
Designed to be very compact in transport mode too, the model’s 5.123m length, 980mm width and 1,921mm hight, is combined with a minimum set-up width of 2,840 mm.
stabilisers lowering is carried out using a manual or automatic system, according to needs, with a double wide and narrow set-up option available on slopes up to 19%.
The low centre of gravity offers excellent stability, says the manufacturer, which means movement on irregular ground or slopes is possible, up to 23% in the crawler version or 21% with the wheeled version. The standard basket of 1400x700 mm, with capacity for one or two people, at 120kg or 200kg,
The company provides a full range of electric and hybrid options, through the standard bi-energy power option, the ECO electric (AC+DC) zero emission and the hybrid (Diesel+DC) option. The company’s previous hybrid system has now been replaced by its Gen2Hybrid system which configures the optimum combination of the diesel engine and electric motor while the machine is working.
But apart from the continuing developments in this area, the choice of the material is becoming increasingly important, to achieve a lightness, strength and safety
“The big challenge is also in the technology,” adds a Palazzani spokesperson as interconnectivity with the machine for remote access, diagnostic and telematics becomes more important. “Our machines have seen a revolution in terms of technology in the last years.” This includes the touch screen in the basket, providing information and diagnostics, combined with Palconnect to trace the machine and receive maintenance alerts. To complement this, the Mypalazzani web App was launched in 2020 to provide immediate and free information about the machine, from any device with all operating systems.
Palazzani is working on the design of new models which shall be launched by the end of this year or the beginning of next year. More details about the new models will be unveiled in a more advanced designing phase.
At Oil & Steel, the belief is that full electric units are increasingly common, especially for heights less than 21m. As an extension of that hybrids will become standard in the next future, for height ranges between 25m and 30m working heights, with lithium-ion batteries already the reference for full electric MEWPs.
Most recently the manufacturer has launched its Octopus 23, and the 46kV insulated version, the Octopus 23 I. it has fibreglass basket with liner and a fibreglass third boom section. the range has also been joined by the lightweight 1,800kg Octopus 14 restyling, with new hydraulic and electronic components to improve reliability, controls sensitivity and performance. The model has a small outrigger footprint of 2.7m x 2.7m.
For the Octopus 23 and Octopus 14 restyling a fully electric version with lithium battery pack is available with an 8 hour working autonomy.
Next up will be a new lightweight, compact tracked range named Oxctoplus. It will include 21, and 17m working height models this year, with a 13m version following in 2022. The Octoplus21 will boast 150kg in the basket at a 10.6m outreach across the work envelope. Features across the new range is include the 20-degree Jib Plus, stabilizing height of for more than 550mm and a colour display.
The manufacturer believes that in the future, users will require more integrated tools for work at height, for example, material lifting hoist and advanced user interface in the machine.
Imer’s latest offering was first presented in June 2020. Production and deliveries of the IM R 15 DA started in early January 2021. Features include a double articulated boom, single working diagram with 230kg capacity, compact dimensions and a full range of petrol, diesel and electric versions. By the end of the second quarter 2021, Lithium batteries will also be available.
This year will also see the introduction of another model in the tracked range, a 23m working height model, with compact dimensions, a light weight and variable stabilisation area.
On the hybrid and electric debate, as Paolo Pianigiani, Imer access’ commercial director, says, fully electric battery powered products is a limited niche area, mostly focused on indoor utilisation. “The Hybrid models are growing as alternative to the classic bi-energy endothermic engine and net-powered electric motor, ensuring an environment–friendly, even if limited, working capability.”
Pianigiani agrees that one of the biggest challanges lies in combining classic operating features, such as working height and carrying capacity, with reduced weight and compact dimensions and dual power source, with all related sizing restriction. “Tracked platforms have seen an intensive growth in various markets, due to the flexibility of their utilization. Two main lines have seen strong developments: the so-called spider and the self propelled booms and lately scissors lifts, two sectors and two utilizations mostly characterized by their own weight.”
Following CTE’s two latest launches, the Traccess 200 and CTE Traccess 160, launched in 2019 and December 2020, respectively, the plan is to go higher with the Traccess 270.
While the Traccess 200 is conceptually very simple, having an unrestricted working area at maximum load, with a CanBus System, wired traction console and fixed basket controls, the Traccess 160 is one of the most advanced spiderlift on the market, with 2.4 GHz wireless remote, colour diagnostic display, automatic stabilisation, home function, paired with unrestricted working at full capacity.
The following 27m working height Traccess 270 will feature the manufacturer’s advanced S3 (Smart Stability System and it will feature automatic stabilisation from the basket, Home Function, double consoles and integrated graphic display and full proportional maneuvers. A hybrid battery pack and a detachable wheeled basket for access through standard doors will be additions.
Roberto Berritta, CTE technical product and innovation manager says hybrid power is becoming the most important feature for spider lifts. For this reason, the new Traccess 270 will be equipped with a battery pack paired with an AC low voltage electric pump with smart power management, that can be powered also by AC outlet power, for indoor pollution free and silent jobs.
“The spider industry is still a niche market that is quickly growing though is slowed by the requirement of needing a mean of transportation for the unit to the job site,” says Berritta. “Tree care industry is also a growing market for outside use, though it is an engineering challenge as the units can be frequently abused over design standards with dangerous consequences. Overal,l the spider lift market can offer opportunity to replace other means of operations like scaffoldings, ladders and even small cranes, in areas difficult to reach.”
Recently CMC added four new spiders to its range; three of them fully hydraulic that have created a whole new product family, the F-Series. The three fully hydraulic models, the S13F, S15F and S18 were launched at Bauma 2019. The S23, which completed this series of light and compact machines, was launched later that year at GIS 2019 in Piacenza, Italy, and is much more sophisticated than the other three.
Alessandro Mastrogiacomo, CMC export manager, says the F- series was designed with a specific goal. “Making these machines as easy and durable as possible. “Being fully hydraulic, they don’t feature a joystick or a complex electrical system, so they are much easier to maintain than the average. All three of them are manoeuvrable with hydraulic levers, both from the ground and in the basket.”
The company is working on a new insulated 23m spider lift which will enter the market by the second quarter of 2021. But we couldn’t say more at this minute.
Flexibility is key to modern machines, says Mastrogiacomo. “In our R&D department we tried to dream of lighter machines, powerful in terms of outreach that can work in even more applications than the past, in the pursuit to make one machine suitable for almost every job you can think of.”
Mastrogiacomo adds, “The market for spider lifts is growing rapidly, and with good reason. Spider lifts are multi-purpose products: thanks to their compact dimensions they are the best solution for accessing narrow spaces, both indoors and outdoors. Also, the low-level section allows for transport on small trailers, thus widening their use possibilities. In just one sentence, while a spider lift can do the same job as a truck-mounted or a self-propelled lift, the contrary is not true.”
Leguan Lift’s 190 was first launched in 2017, with an arborist update appearing in 2021 with increased protection of booms and controls, and a new service display.
The Leguan 190 is designed to offer maximum outreach and up-and-over capabilities, which makes it top ideal for tree care. The chassis and booms are well-protected from falling branches and the stable tracked base with high ground clearance allows safe and fast driving on all terrains.
Another model, the Leguan 135 NEO was launched in 2019. The intuitive joystick control allows simultaneous use of multiple boom movements with one hand. The same joystick is used to drive the platform, but also remote control is available as an option. Setting up is easy with the automatic levelling function and operating the spider lift is efficient with the home and back to work position functions.
The company is investing in product development to introduce new models in the coming years to increase options especially for the tree care industry around the world.
On the subject of battery options, Leguan says most of its lifts are used outside, often out of the reach of charging stations, which means that lithium battery is not yet an option for most customers. All spider lifts are available hybrid with energy-efficient petrol/diesel engines and 110V/230V electric motor. Jori Mylläri, vice president, sales and marketing, says “We expect to see continuous growth in spider lift demand due to changes in local regulations that promote the use of safe and compact-sized tracked platforms instead of traditional ways of completing the same.”
Teupen Maschinenbau is entering the European insulated market with its first model, the LEO86SiC. Launched last year in the US market, the platform is insulated up to 46 kV (Category C). It has a maximum working height of 28m and a lateral outreach of 14.5m. With the hydraulically adjustable crawler tracks it can be used on difficult rough terrain. The colour coded radio remote control enables an easy and intuitive handling. Further models will be released soon.
From Ommelift comes the new insulated 2650 iRX-46kV. The platform is Category C insulated and is designed for working close to power lines. All booms are insulated with Waco fiber glass sections which enables safe and maneuverable work. The 2650 iRX-46kV is also US ANSI A92.2 compliant.
The 2650 iRX-46kV has a working height of 26.5m and an unrestricted outreach of 12.2m. A dual parallelogram articulating riser gives 13m up-and-over free clearance and provides vertical wall tracking. Features also include an hydraulic circuit for saw hook-up and 180° basket rotation. With the telescopic section working on rollers there is no slide pad friction in the telescopic movements, which ensures same operation speed with full basket load in all positions.
The model has a powerful off-road driving capability and a heavy-duty shield package. The stabilisers allow the machine to be set-up on uneven levels up to 40%. Simple and intuitive, multi-function lift operation from the radio controller make operator instruction easy and work quicker.
The standard 2650 iRX version of the model is a true diesel/battery hybrid with engine generated re-charge of the battery pack.
Socage is most well known for its truck mounts but has entered the spier lift market. The 18S, a tracked platform that can provide up to 18.3m working high and 8.2m is its current offering. It’s a double pantograph model, with a telescopic boom and a jib. The variable undercarriage allows it to move on slopes up to 16°. Its moderate width of 800mm, without basket, and height of 1995mm allow to pass through small entrance like standard doorways.
The main feature is a turret rotation of 400° with a single stabilisation area. As standard configuration, it offers automatic closing, automatic stabilisation and three speeds of track translation.
Next, the company will launch the 21S; a 21m working height mode with the same features as the 18S. Both feature a 220V electric motor and the company is researching a potential hybrid version.
For France-based ATN, the next evolution of tracked machines will be added onto the Le Piaf range. The original design of Le Piaf, manufactured by ATN Platforms 20 years ago, is an electrically driven vertical mast on tracks.
Since then, several product evolutions appeared, but the main advantages remain consistent. They are rough terrain abilities, very low ground pressure and immediate handover. A new battery technology is set to be added to it to allow spot charging, along with an onboard generator to increase machine autonomy for landscaping and construction outdoor applications.
In 2015, a second range of tracked machines was introduced; this time in the spider lift category. This, the Mygale 23 spider was followed three years later by the Mygale 23 V2. The machines differ from other spider platforms, using a double telescope elevation system. The main advantage is the ability to go from ground to 23m in 90 seconds. User friendly controls and automatic levelling are also features.
“Dual energy on spider platforms is nearly standard, and most probably most efficient power source. Slowly, lithium battery powered machines are launched, but pricing is higher and versatility much less,” said the manufacturer. From ATN’s standpoint, the dual energy solution combines the benefits from both.