ReachMaster demonstrated the BlueLift B72 at the Lift and Access Showcase in Las Vegas, Nev., last fall, with key-account manager Stephanie Gunther providing the commentary. Click here to watch the video.
The BlueLift B72 represents the state of the art in compact tracked lifts. Even though it measures as little as 3’1” wide and 14’9” long for travel, the agile lift delivers up to 66 ft. of platform height, as much as 36 ft. of horizontal reach, and 440-lb. unrestricted platform capacity. Its standard features include electronic CANbus controls; several choices of power source; electricity and air or water to the platform; and function memory that increases efficiency for repeated movements. Built to work indoors or out, the BlueLift B72 has the versatility to meet the needs of widely varied applications ranging from tree care, to construction, building maintenance, industrial work, and window cleaning. The machine is rated for work in winds up to 28 mph. Compactness lets it fit through a double doorway and work in tight spaces, and light weight lets it operate in places with surface-pressure restrictions or soft ground. Its choice of power sources enables it to work indoors or out, and its easy operation lets a trained operator be productive immediately.
Family of Five
The B72 is the largest of five models in the BlueLift family. The four smaller units range from 33-ft. maximum platform height and 21-ft. maximum outreach to 53-ft. of platform height and 30’5” of outreach. BlueLift products are manufactured in Italy and distributed in North America exclusively by ReachMaster Inc., Kingwood, Texas. ReachMaster President Ebbe Christensen says that the company’s BlueLift customers include owner-users, such as contractors, and also rental companies. “A BlueLift can be purchased with an onboard combination of a lithium battery for exhaust-free indoor use and a gasoline or diesel engine for outdoor use. Rental companies seem to like the ability to rent the same machine for indoor or outdoor applications. It helps increase their fleet utilization.”
ReachMaster demonstrated the BlueLift B72 at the Lift and Access Showcase in Las Vegas, Nev., last fall, with key-account manager Stephanie Gunther providing the commentary. (Watch the machine operate at the Showcase.)
When stowed for travel, the BlueLift B72 measures just 3’11” wide with crawlers extended sideways, or 3’1” wide with crawlers retracted. Its overall length is 17’3” with basket attached or just 14’9” with the basket removed. Its overall stowed height is 6’6”. The B72’s 6,600-lb. weight is relatively light for a 66-ft. aerial lift, and it exerts just 6.7 psi of ground pressure when on its tracks, or 71.1 psi when supported on its four outriggers for operation. The operating ground-bearing pressure can be reduced by using outrigger pads to enlarge the supporting surface area when needed. Even though it can reach up six stories, the BlueLift B72 can be transported on a small trailer pulled by a pickup truck that has about 8,000-lb. towing capacity, so no special vehicle or commercial driver’s license is needed to move it.
Like most other BlueLift models, the B72 can be equipped with single or dual power sources to meet a buyer’s preference. Options include lithium battery only, 15-hp. Honda IGX 440 gasoline engine only, a Hatz or Lombardi diesel engine only, or a combination of lithium battery and gasoline or diesel engine. All models can also be run using 110V plug-in power. ReachMaster’s Christensen says the Honda IGX440 gasoline engine has proven particularly popular, either alone or as part of a hybrid combination, because customers feel it is highly reliable, quiet, and efficient. The BlueLift B72 comes standard with a system that shuts off the engine automatically after 20 seconds have passed without any control lever being pulled. The engine comes on instantly when the next lever is pulled, much that same way that some newer cars shut off their engines while the vehicle is stopped at a stop sign, then turn it on instantly when the driver steps on the gas to go. The engine shut-off system improves fuel efficiency by 25% to 30% and also cuts down refueling frequency. When a user wants the engine to run continuously, he or she can override the shut-down system. When a B72 is purchased as a hybrid, the power train is a parallel hybrid system in which the lithium battery and the internal combustion engine each power a separate hydraulic pump. The two pumps are plumbed into a common hydraulic manifold that delivers power for all of the machine’s operations. On hybrid machines, the engine can power the machine and recharge the battery at the same time. When the machine is running on the lithium battery, it operates at the same speed as it does on the internal-combustion engine. In her Showcase presentation, Gunther said that the battery can power a full eight-hour day of work and then be fully recharged in five hours.
The B72’s twin crawlers can take it practically anywhere. The machine’s narrow 37” overall width with the crawlers extended, or 31” width with them retracted, enables the machine to fit through a double doorway. Its 6.7-psi ground-bearing pressure and soft non-marking rubber treads let it travel on turf or finished floors, and it can travel at up to 0.9 mph on level ground or climb a 15° (28%) grade. The boom must be stowed for travel. To help the operator maintain control, the travel drive automatically switches to low speed when the B72 changes longitudinal slope by more than 5° or makes a tight turn.
The BlueLift B72 is equipped with four hydraulically operated articulating outriggers that support the machine during operation. The automatic-leveling feature can set all four and level the machine at the touch of one button, or each outrigger can be positioned and set individually at full, mid, or minimum position to meet individual site conditions. Also, each outrigger can be set at an individual height as site conditions dictate. Each outrigger can be set up to 2’1” above crawler level, or 1’10” below. The outriggers can level the machine on grades to 10° or 18%. As a safety aid, the machine will shut down if it goes out of level by more than 8° side-to-side. The controls will then let the operator only perform actions that will bring the crane closer to level. Christensen says that the system works even during outrigger setup. “It helps stop tipover if the operator accidentally raises outriggers on the uphill side first,” he explains. The outrigger footprint ranges from 14’4” long by 13’1” wide to 18’7” long by 6’6” wide. Sensors tell the B72’s control system where each outrigger is, and the system adjusts its working envelope based on the outrigger settings. When all four outriggers are set in minimum position (18’7” x 6’6”), the B72 still offers full 440-lb. capacity and full 36-ft. outreach over the ends of the machine. If the operator tries to swing over either side, the control system automatically stops the turret from swinging, retracts the boom to a length of about 20 ft., and then continues swinging. Says Christensen, “With the BlueLift, you still have the ability to swing safely over the sides of the machine with the outriggers in narrowest position. Almost no other compact tracked lift will do that.”
The turret provides mounting for the boom and offers 360° non-continuous swing. It is driven hydraulically and controlled proportionally for precise control. The swing system includes automatic turret center stop, which helps quickly align the turret with the chassis for proper stowing. Whenever the turret is swinging and comes directly in line with the chassis, the control system stops swing for five seconds to let the operator know alignment is right for stowing. If the operator wishes to continue swinging, he need only continue holding the swing control lever and swing will restart after five seconds.
The BlueLift B72’s boom combines a two-section articulating lower portion, a three-section telescoping upper portion. An articulating jib is mounted to the boom tip, and the work platform mounts to the jib. The two articulating sections of boom measure about 12 ft. long each, the telescoping upper portion is about 30 ft. long when extended, and the articulating jib measures about 6 ft. long. The design makes it easy to maneuver the platform into even the trickiest work locations. The operator need only elevate the two lower sections a few inches above stowed position before the telescopic boom and jib can be extended their full 36-ft. combined length, a feature that makes it easy to work at long reach in places with little overhead room. The two-section articulating boom and telescopic upper boom also combine to provide up to 26 ft. of up-and-over clearance. The boom’s design lets an operator reach over one obstacle and under another in order to get the basket to a challenging work site. The system also lets the operator put the platform on the ground simply by rotating the upper boom downward while the boom’s two articulating lower sections stay upright. Being able to get the basket from height to ground without lowering the whole boom saves time. All of the boom’s hydraulic cylinders are mounted beneath it to help protect them, and all the hydraulic, electrical, and air lines run inside the boom to minimize the chance of accidental damage. The telescoping sections of boom slide smoothly on plastic pads. The jib articulates from 90° below the boom’s centerline to in-line with the boom.
The work platform mounts to the end of the jib, and can swing 80° left and right to put the user in the best position near the work site. It measures 51.8” x 27.5” and can hold up to 440 lbs. including one or two people. Its all-aluminum construction makes it light and easy to maintain. The single front entrance features a drop-bar closure. The platform can be removed easily to reduce the lift’s width and length for transportation or tight-space maneuvering. Only two pins need to be pulled to remove the platform, which weighs just 60 lbs. Four swiveling wheels on the platform’s bottom roll easily on hard surfaces. ReachMaster offers a choice of two control arrangements on the B72. One setup features a hardwired control console mounted in the platform, plus a wireless portable remote control for travel and setup. The other setup provides one portable wireless control box that operates all functions. When used outside of the platform, the control box works wirelessly. When used in the platform, the control box plugs into a receptacle, then communicates with the BlueLift’s ECU by wired connection and is powered by the machine’s electrical system so there is no worry about the control console’s battery running down. With either controller, all functions are responsive and proportional for maximum precision and smoothness. The B72’s CANbus system monitors operation and sets the working envelope based on outrigger position. It also includes a function memory system that can be set to improve efficiency by automatically and precisely repeating selected motions. A 110V AC power outlet comes standard in the platform, as does one hose connection. The hose can carry pressurized water, air, or hydraulic fluid. A second pre-plumbed hose is optional.
Parts, service, and technical support are provided by ReachMaster Inc., Kingwood, Texas.