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Cherry Pickers vs Scissor Lifts – Which Option is Right for You?

When it comes to working at height, selecting the right aerial work platform can make a significant difference in the safety, efficiency, and success of your project. Among the most popular options available today are cherry pickers and scissor lifts, with each one having a unique set of features and benefits.

In this article, we’ll look at cherry pickers vs scissor lifts, helping you decide which is the best fit for your specific needs. If you’re ever in doubt, our team of UK access industry experts are always on hand to offer advice – simply get in touch with your project requirements.

Understanding Cherry Pickers

Cherry pickers, also known as boom lifts, are powered access platforms equipped with a hydraulic lifting system and a cradle or basket at the end of a telescoping boom. Originally designed for picking fruit in orchards (hence the name), cherry pickers have found a wide array of applications in industries such as construction, maintenance, and utility services.

Benefits of Cherry Pickers:

  1. Versatility – Cherry pickers offer the ability to reach not only vertically but also horizontally, providing access to hard-to-reach areas both up and over obstacles.
  2. Range of Motion – With extendable arms that can move in various directions, cherry pickers can navigate around many obstacles with ease.
  3. Variety of Sizes and Types – This type of access platform comes in various sizes and can be vehicle-mounted, self-propelled, or towable, offering flexibility for different project requirements. Here at, we even offer a range of tracked spider platforms which are perfect for use on uneven or sloping terrain.
A cherry picker demonstrating its advantage of outreach.

Drawbacks of Cherry Pickers:

  1. Basket Capacity – Generally speaking, a cherry picker will have a lower basket capacity than a scissor lift which may be a limitation depending on how many workers need to be present in the basket at one time, or how much weight will be added to the basket by personnel, tools and materials.

Understanding Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts are named for the crisscrossing metal supports that contract and expand, helping to elevate the platform up and down in a vertical fashion. They are used in various settings, including construction, retail, and warehousing, for tasks such as installation, maintenance, stock taking, and inventory management.

Benefits of Scissor Lifts:

  1. Stability – Scissor lifts provide a stable and secure platform for working at height, ideal for tasks that require the operator to move around or handle materials.
  2. Larger Platform Sizes – This type of equipment often features larger platforms with bigger safe working loads (SWL’s) than cherry pickers, helping to accommodate multiple workers and their tools or materials.
  3. Rough Terrain Options – Traditionally, scissor lifts were confined to operating on flat surfaces, however, as technology has advanced, so too have the options available on some scissor lifts. There are a number of scissor lifts available today that are perfect for rough terrain, helping workers gain access to areas where a traditional scissor might have struggled.
Two scissor lifts being operated in tandem. Both scissors feature large working platforms.
Two scissor lifts with large platforms operating in tandem.

Drawbacks of Scissor Lifts:

  1. Vertical Movement Only – Unlike cherry pickers, scissor lifts can only move vertically, limiting their usefulness in situations where horizontal outreach is required.
  2. Limited Manoeuvrability – Their design can make it challenging to navigate around obstacles or reach over barriers.

Which Option Is Right for You?

Whether you’re looking to purchase or hire an access platform, choosing between a cherry picker and a scissor lift depends on several key factors as outlined below:

  • Project Requirements – You should assess the need for horizontal outreach, the working height required, and whether you need to navigate around obstacles. Cherry pickers are ideal for complex access scenarios, while scissor lifts are suitable for straightforward vertical access.
  • Work Environment – Consider the terrain and space constraints of your working environment. Scissor lifts traditionally perform better on indoor, flat surfaces but rough terrain scissor lifts do exist should you require these. Cherry pickers with the right specification can also be the perfect choice for working outdoors and in areas with uneven or rough terrain.
  • Budget & Training – Budget constraints and the availability of trained operators may also influence your choice of platform. IPAF are a leading provider of powered access training and have different programs for scissor lifts and cherry pickers. It may be the case that your workforce is already trained to use one particular type of access platform, so be sure to take into account any additional training that may be required when making your decision.

Cherry Pickers Vs Scissor Lifts – The Conclusion

Both cherry pickers and scissor lifts offer valuable benefits for working at height. By considering your specific project requirements, work environment, and budget, you can make an informed decision on which aerial work platform is the right choice for you.

Remember that safety should be your top priority, so always ensure that the equipment you choose is suitable for the work you intend to carry out. You should also ensure that operators are properly trained to the appropriate IPAF standard and that you adhere to all safety guidelines.

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