Cherry Pickers vs. Scissor Lifts

Cherry pickers and scissor lifts have many similarities. Both are powered access platforms that help workers reach heights they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. But choosing the right access platform will keep your job from encountering hiccups along the way. If you’re in need of an aerial lift machine, but you’re unsure which to go for, then we’re here to help. We’ve outlined everything you’ll need to consider, from terrain type, to job specs, to working height. First, we’ll discuss what exactly a cherry picker and a scissor lift are, then we’ll try to determine your needs based on the job you’d like to complete. Once we’ve done that we should have a good idea of which machine to choose. Without further ado:

What is a Cherry Picker?

Cherry pickers (also called boom lifts) provide height access as well as outreach over obstacles. There are three main types of Cherry Pickers:
  • Articulated Cherry Pickers: These provide access "up and over" obstacles. This allows the base of the cherry picker to be situated further away from the work area.
  • Telescopic: Also known as straight or stick cherry pickers. These have sections that extend telescopically, in a straight line.
  • Spider boom lifts: These cherry pickers have multiple "legs" that are used to stabilize the cherry picker. This is ideal for work areas that have uneven ground surfaces.

Advantages of a Cherry Picker

Outreach capability means that you can reach areas that are harder to reach. This can be either articulated or telescopic, depending on your work needs. Because of their outreach, they are extremely versatile machines. They don't require much time to adjust and are easily adaptable. This gives them the ability to be used for a range of projects and reach awkward areas easily. The cage used on the platform keeps operators safe while in use. This can provide a sense of safety for the workers while the lift is being operated. They are extremely efficient. You will be able to position your cherry picker platform quickly, without the need to move the entire machine.

Limitations of a Cherry Picker

It's important to keep an eye on the Safe Working Load (SWL). Cherry pickers are designed to lift workers and small tools only. Other objects (especially those that are heavy) should use machinery made specifically for lifting large objects. Luckily, this can be remedied if necessary. Star Platforms offer special handling equipment that can be attached to cherry pickers to lift larger objects. You should make sure that your workers are properly trained to use a cherry picker before deploying. Want to get your employees up to scratch? Take a look at our IPAF training courses.  

What is a Scissor Lift?

Scissor lifts provide vertical height access using their lifting mechanism and platform. They can be used for indoor low-level access, reaching high shelving in a warehouse, or fixing lighting or ducting indoors. Unlike cherry pickers, scissor lifts only operate vertically, allowing access "up" rather than "up and over". There are two types of scissor lifts:
  • Diesel Scissor Lifts: Also called "rough terrain scissor lifts" can be used in areas that have inclines and uneven grounds. These are commonly used outside, rather than inside and run on diesel fuel.
  • Electric scissor lifts: Electric scissor lifts are ideal for indoor work. They are compact and so can easily fit through narrow areas. Because they are electric, they will need to be plugged into a power source to be used.

Advantages of a Scissor Lift

The simple commands for the scissor lifts mean they are easy to operate making them easy to train employees on. Scissor lifts come in many variations and are customisable. This makes it easy to customise your lift for your business needs. They are easy to maintain, making them great for saving time and money on the job. Many electric lifts come with non-marking tyres - making them great for indoor warehouse use.

Limitations of a Scissor Lift

Level ground is typically needed for most scissor lifts. But when necessary, rough terrain electric machines, such as our Dingli D1823DCB provide the versatility needed to traverse both indoor and rough outdoor terrain. Scissor lifts don't provide outreach as a cherry picker does. Rather, they provide only vertical access. If your job requires further reach, then a cherry picker may better suit your needs. Electric scissor lifts need to be plugged into a power source in order to be used. While this isn't a huge limitation, as you can buy diesel-fueled and hybrid scissor lifts. How High do you Need to Reach? The height and placement of the area you need to reach will play a factor in determining which machine to purchase. Star Platform’s scissor lifts can reach up to 22 metres. This should be fine for most jobs that involve working inside, or reaching up walls of high buildings. Installing cladding or windows, and painting can easily be done with one of these machines. However, they may limit the areas that you can access. This can be fixed by using a cherry picker. While a scissor lift can easily reach vertical heights, a cherry picker will provide more outreach capability by reaching in a diagonal direction, allowing the platform to reach up and over obstacles. Star Platform’s cherry pickers can reach up to 28 metres, depending on the model.

Where are you Using your Powered Access Machine?

Depending on the terrain and the area needing to be reached, you may want to use either a scissor lift or a cherry picker. Scissor lifts can be used if the machine is able to be parked directly next to the work area, and your workers only need to reach vertically. If the terrain is too unstable, there are large objects in the way, or you need to park further away from the work zone, then the extra articulation, stability, and reach of a cherry picker may be more beneficial.  

Hire Price Differences

The price of either a cherry picker or a scissor lift will depend on the model you choose, the number of machines you need, the length of the project, and the models that you choose. Hiring a powered access machine offers all the benefits of owning a machine without the commitment of maintenance. At Star Platform, we offer both single machine hires and fleet hires depending on the scale of your operation. If you plan on using your powered access machines frequently or have multiple projects planned, then buying the powered access platforms may work out better than hiring. Thought this will depend on the length of your project. Luckily, here at Star Platform, we offer MEWP purchases for both new and used machiens. Regardless of the price, you'll need to make sure that you're using the proper equipment for your job. Unsure where to start? Get in touch with our team for expert advice.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve discovered, powered access machines are extremely versatile and can help you complete many types of jobs that require far reach. Both cherry pickers and scissor lifts have their advantages, but if you’re unsure of which to choose, call our team of specialists who can provide expert advice and assistance. Want to learn more? Check out our additional cherry picker and scissor lift articles here!