Why reach for the trees when you can go straight through them?
If you speak with any contractor or business owner in the Arbor sector about what their key points of focus are in their day-to-day operations, you will nearly always get back a fairly similar answer. “Efficiency, safety, and ability to access hard-to-reach areas with speed and minimal risk,” or something along those lines will generally be your answer.
If those four areas pretty much tie in with what you were thinking, then you are going to love this review, as I have pretty much just described the key features of the Ahern RUTHMANN BLUELIFT SA22.
Those of you not familiar with the name Ahern Australia, you may be more familiar with the brand Snorkel. Ahern Australia not only offer the full range of Snorkel products, but are also the exclusive Australian distributor for Ruthmann Bluelift spiderlift products.
Some of the features you are going to love about this spider lift are the ultra-narrow dimensions and powerful rough terrain capabilities, which made the timing of this review perfect as I had a job booked in a tricky location in Bayview on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. If you don’t know Bayview, it starts on the waterway of Pittwater then, very steeply, runs up into the mountains where some of Sydney’s premium homes reside, before turning into the national park. The area is renowned for large natural rock outcrops positioned around the properties and winding roads that twist their way up into this steep and hard-to-access area.
We had several issues to take into account on this job. Firstly a single, narrow access point into the yard that not many machines with the reach of the BLUELIFT would have been able to access. Second, there were several large trees with substantial branches that were located directly above a glass panel fence as well as phone and power lines. Access was going to be tricky at best and with a stunning lawn and garden on-site, not ripping up the lawn was also a factor.
The RUTHMANN BLUELIFT SA22 was basically made for this exact type of location as it’s perfect for areas that cannot be reached with a standard vehicle towing a trailer-mounted boom lift.
As the spider lift came up the steep driveway, its rubber tracks and powerful drive system had no problem at tackling the incline. Thanks to its proportional individual track heights to level the machine when tracking across inclines, it was through the narrow gate and being set up within minutes on the grass front yard area, where most of the day’s work was going to be located.
This machine has a sturdy, yet lightweight bucket, which is easily removed when accessing tight gates. It has wheels on the bottom, so it’s even easier to be moved on hard surfaces.
The stabiliser legs were deployed, and auto levelled once we placed some ply under the feet to protect the soft and still slightly muddy grass. The stabilisers on this machine have three different positions for narrower set-ups, when you don’t have room, and a smaller footprint to set up. Obviously, if you are on a narrow set-up, you will have more reach restrictions.
Thanks to the auto level switch, it was a quick set up and we were ripping into work in no time.
The three-section boom design delivers up to 22m of working height, the lower boom comes up and gives 9m of over reach and up to a 10.9m horizontal outreach, three features that we were going to really make the most of on this particular job.
Having to reach over both insulated power and phone wires as well as a glass fence, the ability to work to the limit of these features saved us a huge amount of man hours as well as the cost of a disconnect and reconnect of services.
Even at full reach, the SA22 operated smoothly with two guys in the basket, and the extra weight didn’t seem to have any negative impact on the operation of the lift at all. The basket has the ability to rotate up to 340 degrees and also houses a 230-Volt power outlet as standard, which makes it perfect for the operator to plug in power tools or other equipment as required.
We did have to get the machine into a few slightly tricky positions which again didn’t pose any real problems over the day. Part of the ability to get the SA22 into some trickier situations comes down to the fact that the machine overall weight is just 2990kg, which delivers very low ground pressure when in drive mode using the rubber tracks, and also lower pressure when using the stabiliser legs. These stabiliser legs operate with a simple one-touch operation, making them fast and very easy to set up. A self-stabilising system locks the spider lift into place for safe work at height, and hydraulically operated articulating outriggers can be set at individual heights.
This machine also has a home pack-up feature. As long as there are no obstructions like a tree or building in the way, holding one switch will pack away the boom to its resting position without having to move several controls and line it up manually.
These machines are designed and built in Italy and suitable for a wide range of applications. The range of BLUELIFT spider lifts share many of the same design features, including advanced technology, lightweight designs and high performance. The vertical and horizontal reach of these lifts maximises production, both indoor and outdoor. Ergonomic designs allow operators to quickly move the lift into position, even in tight spaces. Proportional electro-hydraulic controls deliver precise manoeuvring to allow for easy work of accessing high places.
All in all, the RUTHMANN BLUELIFT SA22 made life very easy for us in a location otherwise very tricky. From the way it snuck in through the narrow gate, to the ability to level while tracking across the uneven ground to get into its first position, this spider lift overcame several unique challenges before we even took advantage of its excellent height and reach capabilities.
Ahern Australia will be displaying Bluelift Models at the Arboriculture Australia National Conference, May 16-19, at the RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast and the HIRE20 Exhibition, May 27-28, at the Adelaide Convention Centre.