Contractors warm up to the true hybrid Genie® lift and not just for the fuel savings
The construction site not only has a rhythm of its own but also its own soundtrack. From a distance, pounding, haul trucks, excavators, backup alarms, and other construction sounds can be heard.
Then there is the engine noise emitted from all those diesel-powered machines working at the jobsite. If it’s noticeable by people from a distance, think about the toll it takes on the workers at the construction site who must hear those engines day in and day out. Even though workers may get used to the construction zone soundtrack, it takes only a little respite from the norm to appreciate the sound of silence.
“It was great not listening to the sound of the diesel engine all day,” says Andrew Seaver, supervisor for J.A. Morrissey, Inc. of Williston (Burlington), Vermont, after renting a true hybrid boom lift. The contractor was the first company to rent the new Genie® Z®-60/37 FE fuel-electric hybrid boom from Essex Equipment, headquartered in Essex Junction. The rental turned out to be a huge benefit for those living nearby, as it was a sensitive application.
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From restaurants and art galleries to libraries and places of worship, Morrissey constructs a wide range of commercial projects. The company also works in more sensitive areas such as surgical centers, hospitals, and occupied housing.
It was a nursing home restoration project in Montpelier, Vermont, that had Morrissey renting the Genie hybrid boom. Crew members were tasked with trim repair and repainting and replacing the fascia on the two- to three-story structure. To reach the vast majority of the work, workers needed a 60-foot articulated boom lift.
While Morrissey didn’t specifically request the hybrid lift, it was late in the rental season, so a majority of Essex’s boom fleet was already reserved. “We have a strong fleet of aerial work platforms that totals more than 150 units,” says Jason Morse, vice president of Essex Equipment. “However, we get our rush on rentals during the construction season, and the 65-foot class lift is one of the most popular sizes in this market. The Genie Z-60/37 FE hybrid unit gives us the flexibility to rent it for both indoor and outdoor applications, which helps with fleet management.”
For 3 months, Morrissey’s crew used the hybrid articulated boom to lift tools and workers into position as they repaired and replaced the trim and fascia work. “The Genie Z-60/37 FE fuel-electric hybrid boom offers a 65-foot, 7-inch maximum working height and horizontal reach up to 36-feet, 7-inches, so it is designed to help contractors efficiently complete the type of work that Morrissey had at the nursing home,” explains Lance Courtemanche, Genie senior territory manager, Terex AWP.
Workers operated the boom throughout the day to complete their work, and they charged the batteries overnight for the next day’s work. “We were able to operate the boom under battery power, so we used little fuel,” comments Seaver. “We were working nearby resident windows, so the quiet machine operation was definitely a plus on this job.”
Courtemanche says that working a full shift under battery power is part of the hybrid machine’s design. If workers are concerned about fully discharging the batteries before the end of the shift, the articulated boom can be operated in hybrid mode. “This way the small diesel engine ‘tops off’ the batter charge automatically or supplements batter power to give a boost to machine performance,” he says. “In the case where the batteries are fully discharged, workers can still operate under engine power while the batteries are being charged.”
Not only were basket and boom movements made under full battery power, Morrissey’s workers maneuvered the machine around the jobsite to adjust positions. Seaver reports driving the hybrid unit just like he would a diesel unit. “The machine worked great. I didn’t notice any performance difference from a diesel-powered unit,” he says.
Morse attributes the hybrid unit’s unique and efficient all-wheel drive system as reasons why battery operation was possible and Morrissey’s crew did not notice a performance drop-off. The Genie Z-60/37 FE boom’s four identical controllers power four fully enclosed and waterproof AC 3-phase drive motors, one for each wheel. “The high-torque motor concept allows the hybrid unit to go over uneven terrain even better than diesel-powered units,” he says.
Having the right fleet mix to complete all the jobs encountered by customers is the primary reason rental companies carry a piece of aerial platform equipment. For a smaller company like Essex covering a large territory with a sparse population, fleet flexibility is critical. “It’s not practical to have the 1,000-plus units that large rental companies serving urban areas stock, so having an articulated boom that can be used both on indoor and outdoor projects is a huge benefit,” says Morse.
Beyond flexibility for rental companies, the Genie Z-60/37 FE boom’s hybrid power system is built with a much smaller engine than the 48-60 hp engines units powering diesel models in the 65-foot class. “The hybrid boom has a simple, 24.8-hp Kubota diesel engine, which does not require additional emissions equipment like diesel particulate filters or adding diesel exhaust fluid (DEF),” explains Courtemanche.
The engine design benefits Essex just as much as it helps customers save on fuel during a rental period. “We have a small service department with 10 full-time employees,” explains Morse. “Having the less complex engine makes it easier to find techs to work on the smaller engine.”
At just over 17,000-pound operating weight, the Genie Z-60/37 FE boom is approximately 25 percent lighter than diesel-powered units, which delivers value-added benefits beyond extending battery life when operating in full-electric mode. “Smaller trucks can be used to transport the hybrid boom, which makes it easier for our customers to haul it,” adds Morse.
With the advantages offered to both Essex and the customer, the rental company will continue to add true hybrid booms to its fleet, even though customers are not yet asking specifically for a hybrid rental. “Most contractors still rent based on the lift height but give it time,” says Morse. “The more contractors like Morrissey use and become familiar with the advantages of the true hybrid concept, the natural progress will be for more specific requests for hybrid boom rentals on both indoor and outdoor jobs.”
About the author:
Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2019
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