Bucket trucks are one of the most common pieces of machinery for positioning people for aerial work. Like any truck-mounted piece of machinery, they represent serious investments for the companies that purchase them. But in a huge range of industries—from sign and lighting to utility and electrical contractors, mining, transportation, oil and gas and rail—working at height is simply a reality of the work that requires an equipment solution.

Because equipment is necessary and bucket trucks are so widely used, the serious limitations of these more or less single-use vehicles are regularly overlooked, despite the fact that far more versatile options, like Elliott’s HiReach aerial work platform, are available on the market. Not all bucket trucks are created equal, of course, but they tend to be severely lacking in one or more of the following areas:

Side reach

Side reach is the distance a boom is capable of extending perpendicular to the truck body itself. It’s incredibly important because the realities on many worksites do not allow for perfect positioning of the truck. When working on a sign far off from the shoulder of a busy roadway, for instance, adequate side reach is required to safely position both the personnel and the piece of equipment.

While many bucket trucks do have 360-degree operation, many have very limited range and, for some models, side reach is effectively made nil by the positioning of the boom mount on the truck itself. Where side reach is ever a consideration, many models of bucket trucks must be ruled out right off the bat.

Tail swing

Tail swing is an important consideration when working with a bucket truck in a restricted space or along a busy road. The term refers to how far the elbow of an articulated boom extends beyond the truck bed/body opposite of the work area where the bucket is being deployed.

Tail swing has the potential to become a real problem for many customers. It can lead to job site damage from the boom striking walls or obstacles, injuries to operators from trucks or cars striking the boom elbow when working alongside a road and difficulties with positioning in tight areas.

Telescopic booms, on the other hand, will typically have reduced or zero tail swing. The design reduces or eliminates the boom elbow that exists on articulated booms, reducing the danger of operator injury and damage to the area surrounding the equipment.

Material handling

Similar to the assumption that a bucket truck is the industry-standard method for aerial work, many companies assume that when lifting capabilities are needed on the job site, they must buy or rent a crane. For example, heavy signs need to be positioned at height, lighting or telecommunication equipment needs to be attached to poles and mining companies need to lift and install shovel components in the mine.

Operator’s platform

The bucket design works well for many types of personnel positioning. Oftentimes operators favor them for the insulation they provide and their ability to block the wind. But in some cases, the high walls and limited space for maneuvering within the bucket can be confining for operators, meaning they’re not ideal for every job. So you want to make sure your distributor offers options.

Tool and accessory handling

More often than not, a job that requires a bucket truck will require a range of tools to get done. How these tools and accessories will make their way up to the operator’s platform deserves consideration. Having a heavy-duty cable carrier for bringing welding leads, air hoses and washer lines to the operator will save time, effort and space. Many bucket trucks don’t account for this part of the job, which can cause frustration later down the road.

A more well rounded option

The bucket truck is not the only option for positioning personnel above ground. Better aerial work platforms do exist. The HiReach from Elliott Equipment Company comes standard with impressive side reach, zero tail swing and spacious work platforms that have the option to become even larger. They are ANSI A92.2-compliant, can have material handling capabilities of up to 15 tons and can be outfitted to meet various levels of ANSI insulation standards for work near electrical charges.

There’s no reason to settle for a bucket truck that can’t do it all. Get in touch with Elliott Equipment Company today to discuss an aerial work platform that’ll work harder for you.