Aerial devices were once exclusively operated by hydraulic pistons, powered by diesel or gasoline motors on the base unit. Lightweight electrically powered units are gaining popularity for window-cleaning or other maintenance operations, especially indoors and in isolated courtyards, where heavier hydraulic equipment cannot be used. Aerial devices are the closest in appearance to a crane- consisting of a number of jointed sections, which can be controlled to extend the lift in a number of different directions, which can often include “up and over” applications.
This type of AWP is the most likely of the types to be known as a “cherry picker”, owing to its origins, where it was designed for use in orchards (though not just cherry orchards). It lets the picker standing in the transport basket pick fruit high in a tree with relative ease (with the jointed design ensuring minimum damage to the tree). The term “cherry picker” has become generic, and is commonly used to describe articulated lifts (and more rarely all AWPs).
This type of AWP is now widely used for maintenance and construction of all types, including extensively in the power and telecommunications industries to service overhead lines, and in arboriculture to provide an independent work platform on difficult or dangerous trees. A specialist type of the articulated lift is the type of fire apparatus used by firefighters worldwide as a vehicle to provide high level or difficult access. These types of platforms often have additional features such as a piped water supply and water cannon to aid firefighters in their task.
Some articulated lifts are limited to only the distance accessible by the length of each boom arm, however, by the use of telescoping sections, the range can be vastly increased. Some large hydraulic platforms mounted on a lorry can reach heights of over 100 metres.
The majority of articulated lifts require a wide supportive base to operate safely, and most models have extending legs/struts to help accomplish this. These legs can be manual or hydraulic (usually depending on size and price of the machine). Some AWPS are classified as “spiders” due to the appearance of these legs. Spiders are also available in especially compact form, to fit through doorways for use inside