Why choose an aerial platform for overhead power line work?

Power distribution companies have a responsibility to keep homes and businesses operational – and every minute counts during an outage. That’s why quick and easy access, both into the worksite and while working at heights, is so important.

Many of the largest power distributors in the world use an aerial platform to access tall power lines. Janne Pulkkinen, Vice President for Bronto Skylift, told us about the main reasons utility service providers benefit from aerial platforms in safe working at heights.


Fast access to tall utility lines

For many projects, accessing a location to begin operations can be its own challenge. Your team may have to cross or set up on uneven, off-road terrain – or in a tight space with little room for your equipment footprint. These problems are compounded when transporting multiple pieces of equipment.

An aerial platform typically comes with its own transport built on a chassis. This means the entire unit can be driven directly onto location without bringing along a separate crane or counterweight. Fewer pieces of equipment at site also means less equipment shuffling, which leads to a quicker setup time.

In the air, you may need to reach over and around challenging obstacles. The Bronto’s articulated boom and cage can reach horizontally to the side to access phases or arms of towers that could normally be reached only by going off-road. For transmission lines with two towers, the aerial can be lined up in the middle of the towers so the power lineman can work on both sides while remaining in the air.

Brontos have also been used to work across elevated expressways or tall buildings in densely-packed urban centres. With their small footprint and variable jacking capabilities, a Bronto can be used at sites with very little space to operate on the ground.

Safety and control near overhead power lines

Working in the air near overhead power lines is challenging because of the inherent risk. Confident and efficient utility work requires excellent cage stability and a reliable set of controls. 

Many teams choose devices with a dual rating. Dual rated devices attempt to fulfil the features of both a crane (designed to carry materials) and an aerial platform (designed to carry people). Experts dispute whether designing a safe dual rated device is even possible, because the requirements are entirely different.

Brontos are designed from the ground-up as an aerial platform, and don’t need a dual rating. This means you can get to work without running a crane test – or compromising on safety – because Brontos are built to carry personnel.

When it comes to reliable controls, modern Brontos come with the fifth generation Bronto+ control system, which ensures that movements are accurate and smooth.

Bronto+ also monitors cage load in real time, and adjusts the amount of allowable outreach to match. This eliminates the possibility for operator error and ensures maximal safe reach is attainable at all times. If the lineman enters a danger zone, a built-in safety system will kick in and stop movement.

With a highly mobile cage, the electrical lineman can set up in the middle of a tower and tie conductors to both sides through precise cage movements alone.

Not all operations go as planned. If there’s a problem mid-operation, a remote diagnostic system helps to solve the problem fast – even in difficult situations. Whenever the operator requests assistance, Bronto Compass opens an immediate communication line between Bronto Skylift experts and your platform. A technical expert can then log into the machine remotely, see what the operator is doing, and make calibration adjustments.

More stringent environmental legislation and the growth of the electric vehicle, for example, are set to increase power needs over the coming decades. Demand for utility lines is rising, especially for live line work.

A far-reaching aerial designed from the ground up for access, fine control, and safety translates into significantly higher productivity.

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