Why Zero-Turn Scissor Lifts Are Better Than Vertical Mast Lifts


There’s no doubt that architecture gets more complex with each passing year. Contractors are continuously looking for ways to maximize space and budgets, pushing their projects, crews, and equipment to the limits. Vertical masts and zero-turn scissor lifts have evolved to not only make accessing hard to get to locations possible, but safer. Keep reading to see applications for both lifts and learn why Hy-Brid Lifts Zero-Turn Series scissor lifts are better than vertical mast lifts.

Why Should I Use a Vertical Mast?

Many construction and facility maintenance jobs require overhead access in narrow areas that are difficult or impossible to navigate with traditional scissor lifts. Due to their compact design and maneuverability, vertical masts are ideal for complex or otherwise restricted applications that could prove dangerous with ladders or scaffolding.

What Are the Benefits of Vertical Masts Over Traditional Scissor Lifts?

The largest difference between vertical masts and traditional scissor lifts is size. Vertical masts are significantly smaller, allowing them to more easily access and maneuver around tight workspaces. The overall size of vertical mast lifts, which is 24–29% more compact than traditional scissor lifts, allows them to fit into personnel elevators, while their increased maneuverability is a direct result of a 0 in inside turning radius.

These lifts also offer reduced weights and lower platform entry heights. The reduced weight of vertical masts, up to 39% lighter than traditional scissor lifts, comes from their compact size and lower platform heights, typically a 12–16 ft range that’s adequate for most jobs. Having a low platform entry height allows operators to load supplies and enter the lift platform easier and with less risk of injury than a traditional scissor lift.

Vertical masts are more compact and maneuverable than most scissor lifts

What Are the Shortcomings of Vertical Masts?

Vertical masts have a lot going for them over traditional scissor lifts, but they’re not without their shortcomings. Some of these limitations include a narrow work zone, a short or nonexistent platform extension, a small platform, increased platform sway, and mast damage susceptibility.

The design of vertical mast lifts drastically limits working zones since the mast comes up to the top of the platform rails, blocking operators from working on that side and preventing a 360-degree working zone. Operators need to carefully plan where they’ll be working so they don’t have to constantly reposition the vertical mast to complete the job.

Having a sturdy platform extension is critical when you need to elevate over objects to access a workspace. Most vertical masts offer a small platform extension, if they have one at all. Additionally, the standard platform on vertical masts is already smaller due to the compact nature of vertical masts, which limits how many tools and materials can come up at one time to complete the project. Compared to a traditional scissor lift, the total working space of vertical mast lifts is 42–64% smaller.

The work area on vertical mast lifts is obstructed by the mast column

On top of having a smaller platform than traditional scissor lifts, vertical masts lack the total platform support that comes from having a scissor stack. Instead, the platform is only connected to one end of the mast, increasing platform sway at height and drastically reducing operator comfort. Most mast lifts also lack protective measures to prevent loose debris from falling into the mast segments, which can damage the mast and cause the mast to have more play. This additional play translates to increased platform sway for operators.

How is the Hy-Brid Lifts Zero-Turn Series Better Than Vertical Masts?

Enter the Hy-Brid Lifts Zero-Turn Series, our vertical mast lift alternative. This series was built from the ground up as scissor lifts that bring innovation to the vertical mast segment by meeting all the reasons why you’d choose a vertical mast and improving on all vertical mast shortcomings. Here's three reasons why zero-turn scissor lifts are better than vertical mast lifts.

1. Compact Size

When designing the Zero-Turn Series, we wanted to make sure these lifts stayed as compact as possible so they can access all the same areas as vertical mast lifts. Our zero-turn lifts match vertical masts in width and are slightly longer in length, yet still significantly shorter than traditional scissor lifts. The platform entry height is slightly higher than vertical masts due to the added scissor stack, but the benefits of using a scissor stack is worth the tradeoff for a more stable platform, 360-degree working zone, and larger working space.

The compact size of our ZT Series allows them to fit through standard doorframes without folding rails

2. Maneuverability

The Zero-Turn Series and vertical masts both have a 0 in turning radius, so what makes Hy-Brid Lifts better? It’s all in how the zero-turn drive system operates. We took the same approach as skid loaders and zero-turn lawn mowers, allowing the drive wheels to counter-rotate when steering as opposed to controlling the steer wheels with a toggle switch typically found on traditional style lifts. Combine this unique zero-turn steering system with a compact size and very few places become inaccessible.

3. Platform Space

The overall platform size on Zero-Turn Series scissor lifts is up to 37% larger than vertical masts with a platform extension and over 100% larger than vertical masts without a platform extension. Additionally, the Hy-Brid Lifts EZ-Glide slide out platform extension is longer than all vertical masts, providing further reach over obstructions. Having a larger platform allows for more tool and material space while giving operators a larger workable zone. Using a scissor design for lifting eliminates a mast intruding onto the platform, enabling a true 360-degree working zone. The scissor design also provides four points of contact on the platform, minimizing sway and boosting operator confidence.

The Zero-Turn Series boasts a much larger work platform than mast lifts

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