Workers on a mobile platform

Mobile platforms are one of the basic elements of working at height. They make it possible to build a comfortable workplace where this would be a problem due to the height. As alternatives to scaffolding, mobile platforms offer convenience and safety to workers, especially where the placement of ordinary scaffolding could pose problems. For this reason, they are used not only in the construction industry, but in many other industries where quick and convenient access to high places is needed. They are also used in jobs such as cleaning windows at height or pruning tree branches. But what exactly are they, what is their application, who can use them and is it worth investing in mobile platforms as an entrepreneur?

What are mobile platforms? 

Mobile platforms are machines that play a similar role to scaffolding. It is a type of crane, consisting of three parts

  • Body with cabin for the operator
  • Lifting crane or jib
  • A working platform equipped with railings and suitably secured for working at heights (depending on the type and use of the mobile platform, platforms come in different sizes - they can accommodate several people or consist of a single person basket only)

Workers on a mobile platform

Similar to scaffolding, mobile platforms are used to place workers at heights. They allow a wide range of vertical and horizontal movements at the same time. Thanks to the safety provided by the platform, one to three people can be transported with it.

Depending on their construction and use, mobile platforms are divided into four types:

  • Mobile, mounted on a body allowing the platform to be moved at any time
  • Hanging, in the form of a mobile platform suspended from the façade of a building
  • Mast, similar to pendants except that they are mounted on a retractable mast that allows upward and downward movement
  • Stationary, i.e. platforms fixed to the ground, most often used in jobs where the platform must stand in one place for a long time

In addition, mobile platforms are further divided into three types, depending on how they are constructed:

  • Freewheelers, i.e. mobile platforms with their own two or four-wheel drive
  • Self-propelled, mounted on vehicle chassis, also approved for road traffic
  • Transportable, mounted on a trailer, also approved for road traffic as a special trailer

If you are interested in buying or renting a platform, it is worth looking at these four types. Depending on which platform is needed, the operator will need to have the appropriate permit from the Office of Technical Inspection.

The key element of the platform, which determines the possible scope of work of the machine, is pull out. Mobile platforms are further divided into three types depending on the used hoist. In this case, there are four categories:

  • Telescopic, where the movement is based on a vertically extending long arm
  • Articulated, with hinged mast for a large range of vertical and horizontal movement
  • Articulated-telescopic, working on a similar principle to telescopic, except that the mast also allows horizontal movement

Scissors, based on two levers providing vertical movement

What is the use of mobile platforms? 

Although they are most often seen on construction sites, mobile platforms have a very wide range of applications, not only in construction. They are useful wherever workers need to be placed at height. Mobile platforms are used, for example, in:

  • Work on high-voltage lines
  • A wide range of different installation work, such as mounting banners or putting up billboards
  • Pruning of tree branches and maintenance of greenery
  • Fruit collection
  • Window cleaning in office buildings
  • Maintenance and painting of building facades

It is also worth bearing in mind that mobile platforms are generally much quicker and cheaper than erecting scaffolding. You should also bear in mind the length of the work to be done. On a construction site, where workers can spend many hours on one scaffolding level, a mobile platform will not work as well as a standard scaffolding. However, for jobs where the workers only need to get to a certain height and it only takes one working day to complete the task, mobile platforms are ideal. In addition, mobile platforms can often reach places where the construction of an entire scaffold is simply not possible. It is worth considering the nature of the work you are doing before deciding whether to use a mobile platform or scaffolding.

Who can use mobile platforms? 

Depending on the type of mobile platform, the Office of Technical Inspection shall issue two types of licencesThe UDT permit for aerial platforms is divided into two types. The UDT permits for mobile platforms are divided into two types:

I P, i.e. all mobile platforms:

  • free wheeling (scissor lifts)
  • mobile (e.g. car-mounted spiders)
  • self-propelled (vehicle-mounted)

II P comprising all mobile freewheeling platforms:

  • hanging
  • mast
  • mast-articulated
  • stationary

In addition, you must have a certificate from a doctor of occupational medicine stating that there are no contraindications to working at a height of over 3 metres.

Is it worth investing in mobile platforms? 

The purchase of a mobile platform involves a significant investment. The prices of platforms depend on many factors, including the type of device being purchased. In the current market situation, the price ceiling can range from several tens to even several hundreds of thousands for large platforms such as articulated lifts. Therefore, if the platform is to serve only as another tool used from time to time, its purchase may turn out to be a wasteful investment in the long run. However, this does not mean that you have to give up working with a platform altogether in such a situation. Currently, there are many companies on the market that offer rental equipment to private customers at affordable prices. Thanks to this mobile platforms can be within the reach of anyone who needs to do work at heights.