Have You Ever Seen a Bucket Truck
Have you ever seen someone working high in a bucket attached to a long pole that is attached to a truck? I'm betting you have. If so, you have seen a bucket truck. Many times they are called "cherry pickers" or "aerial lifts". Technically, bucket trucks are for working at heights that a ladder can't get to safely. If you think bucket trucks aren't very common, you would be wrong.
Bucket Truck History
Bucket trucks were originally used to pick fruits in orchards (fittingly, cherry picker). With technology growing, demand and adaptations also grew. When wiring for electricity and telephones in the 1920's to 1950's, bucket trucks were what revolutionized the industry. They made workers more efficient and linemen could get more done in one day than they could have done in 20 days.
Today's Utility Trucks
Today, bucket trucks are used for thousands of jobs. Many of the jobs include line-work (telecomm, cable, electricity industries), forestry work, painting, sign & light repair / installation, window washing, photography, and much more. The increase of demand has also required utility equipment to adapt to each industry's needs. Now, forestry trucks have cab guards, line trucks have insulated booms, etc. These specific trucks allow companies and workers to be the safest and most efficient they can.
Buying Bucket Trucks
Availability of bucket trucks is under the market threshold... meaning, it is hard to find good bucket trucks to buy or rent. If you are looking for quality equipment, I suggest renting or purchasing from a bucket truck reconditioner. What reconditioner you choose to do business with will be the deciding factor between quality and junk. Buying used is risky. Risk does not go well with the already dangerous part of operating a bucket truck. If you buy new, be sure to shell out the money. New trucks are expensive and similar to cars, they lose money as soon as you drive off the lot.
Now you know a little more about aerial bucket trucks. Hopefully, you appreciate them a little more. If nothing else, bucket trucks are some of the most useful and practical machines in todays world. Cherry pickers are also relatively dangerous. Don't forget to take the proper safety precautions before operating or being near a bucket truck.
The aerial bucket truck is a specially designed vehicle equipped with large hydraulic booms and buckets that are used to provide a stable platform when working at tall heights. Due to the nature of the truck's use and the risks involved when working at such heights, an important and mandatory element that should also be accomplished prior to use is to inspect the vehicle to make sure that it is safe for lifting passengers.
The inspection of the vehicle before operation should never be overlooked or rushed. There should actually be three inspections on a bucket truck every time that it is used: pre-operation walk-around at the home facility; pre-driving powered check; and work-site inspection. Following is some detailed information regarding these three operational inspections
Pre-Operational Walk-Around - Prior to powering up the vehicle, the operator should visually check the parts of the vehicle for any obvious sign of damage or wear that could cause failure during operation. Following is a list of the important truck components that should be inspected during the pre-operational walk-around.
Tires- Check all the tires on the truck for under or over inflation. Use a tire pressure gauge to make sure that the air inside all the tires is appropriate for the intended usage. Look for any deep cuts around the tires that would result in rupturing during operation. Remember that the tires provide the primary means of support for the bucket truck, so they should always be well inflated and balanced.
Hydraulic Components - Look for leaking hydraulic fluid around the truck's hydraulic system. Leaks could appear as damp areas near hose connections and on the hydraulic ram dust seals. Check the level of hydraulic fluid and make sure that it is still within the normal prescribed levels.
Engine - Check the engine's oil level and belts, including the radiator's cooling fluid.
Batteries - Check the battery's positive and negative terminals and make sure the wires are properly attached and the terminals are not corroded.
Boom - Check the boom for alignment. It should be straight without any cracks or bends.
Articulated Joints - Check for cracks and signs of excessive wear such as metal shavings or rust.
Powered Checks - This is an inspection that is performed while the engine is running to be sure that the following gauges and controls are properly functioning.
Oil Pressure Gauge - Make sure that the oil pressure inside the engine is within prescribed operating limits. This is important since the engine provides the power needed to operate the hydraulic system.
Battery Functionality - Check any gauges to be sure that the battery is charging while the engine is running.
Platform Controls - Test the hydraulic lift's functions and be sure that everything is properly functioning.
Outriggers - Test the outriggers and make sure that each one deploys properly.
Work-site Inspection - Once at the work-site, it is also important to make sure that the area is safe for proper operation of the bucket truck and all its component parts.
Overhead Obstruction - Make sure there is nothing that could obstruct the lift during its lifting operation.
Power Cables - Always keep the work area free from power cables to avoid possible contact with them and the potential for electrocution.
Bad Weather - Do not operate the lift during lightning storms or during strong winds except in very rare instances that may arise during rescue operations.
Pot Holes - Make sure the vehicle does not have any tire sitting in a pot hole. The outriggers must also be deployed on a stable surface, such as cement or asphalt, to avoid tipping and this should also be carefully checked
Pedestrians and Traffic - When working near traffic routes or sidewalks, always divert traffic and pedestrians so the bucket can operate safely without any moving obstacles.
The inspection of a bucket truck should be done by the vehicle's operator since that person is expected to be knowledgeable about the vehicle components and their performance. Any problem components on the truck should be noticeable to the truck operator. Any inspections should also be performed in a well-lit and well-ventilated area to maximize visibility and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas from the vehicle's exhaust. All of these safety suggestions and hints should ensure safe operation of the bucket truck and safety for everyone near the vehicle!