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How to cherry pick the best aerial work platform for you

How to cherry pick the best aerial work platform for you

When it comes to working at height it’s common for people to refer to cherry pickers when talking about equipment to help reach the task. Although it has become a generally used term, a cherry picker is in fact only one type of aerial work platform and knowing the names and differences between them is key to making the right choice. Get it right and the job will be easier. Get it wrong and you’ll be brought down to earth as hassle-free success stays just out of reach.

So, here we explain the ins and outs as well as the ups and downs of selecting the perfect equipment to get your high-level jobs done.

When is a cherry picker not a cherry picker?

Here at Nationwide Hire, you will find the Powered Access Hire section of our website contains a broad range of mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPS) you can use to safely and efficiently carry out tasks at height.

So, let’s take a look at all the types in more detail so you can see whether it really is a cherry picker you need or perhaps a scissor lift instead.

Cherry pickers/boom lifts

Cherry picker is actually the common name for what we classify as a boom lift. This consists of an articulated boom or arm with a personnel cradle at the end which can be raised to reach a work task. The articulation means the arm can also provide versatile outreach. In other words, rather than just moving straight up and down, the cradle can be adjusted to extend over lower obstacles and to achieve the best cradle position for working. Variations include telescopic arms with fly jibs giving far great outreach and weight carrying capacity. Unlike scissor lifts, cherry pickers or boom lifts only enable height and reach adjustments from the cradle and are not always able to be driven from the fully elevated position.

Our range offers models in various sizes and with different power sources. Smaller, battery powered options are ideal for indoor use where lower heights and lesser obstacles may be encountered in building maintenance, electrical installations and warehouse operations.

Diesel powered options are perfect for moving from place to place externally with some models suited to rough terrain, making it easy to deal with projects such as steel erection, telecoms maintenance and signage installations.

There is also a range of bi-fuel or hybrid models that give you the indoor, zero emission benefit as well as the outdoor diesel capacity. These provide greener and more versatile options.

In addition, our truck, trailer and van mounted boom lifts enable travel across greater distances to provide elevated work solutions from site to site.

Finally we have specialist options for trickier situations. Cherry pickers that can be used on gradients, rails or rough terrain. Our tracked spider booms provide greater traction than standard wheels on soft ground and reduce point loadings on delicate floors. For inspection and maintenance of bridges, our under-bridge booms are specially designed to cope with difficult to reach structures such as flyovers or harbour walls where the best point of access is from above so negative reach is required.

Scissor lifts

Scissor lifts are mobile work platforms which can often be driven from the work position at a safe height. They are often seen working indoors within a warehouse or logistics environment where they operate between racking systems. Outdoors they assist with tasks such as fitting lighting, signage, glazing and painting.

Unlike boom lifts, scissor lifts do not provide outreach so once raised the work position is not as manoeuvrable and the platform is fixed directly above the base with limited ability to extend over obstacles. This machine requires level ground, or jack legs to level the position of the cage, and must be sited near to, directly below or alongside the target work area.

Our range of scissor lifts include battery powered models which are ideal for indoor use. They have zero emissions, quiet operations and are both compact and manoeuvrable.

Our diesel powered options can be run for longer periods and choosing a bi-fuel version will give you the best of both worlds so you can span both indoor and outdoor use.

Low-level access platforms

Our low-level access platforms offer a cost-effective and safer alternative to using aluminium towers, scaffolding platforms (interior), ladders and steps. With a choice of push around and self-propelled versions, these personnel lifts can carry a worker and their tools to heights of up to 12’or 3.6m.


With this information, we hope we’ve clarified the various options for mobile elevated work platforms and made it easier to identify the best equipment to hire for your needs, but, as always, our knowledgeable and experienced team are on hand to chat through the options and help you make the perfect choice.