How to Maintain Electric Scissor Lifts

Feb. 23, 2024
Managers aren't off the hook for important inspections.

Now that electric scissor lifts have become more common, it's a good idea to become more familiar with their maintenance requirements.

While they may not have some of the same requirements as those with internal combustion engines, there are still important items to check and service. There are also some unique considerations.

Rafael Nunez of JLG has developed a primer with good advice on electric scissor lift maintenance.

"Keep in mind that there are several types of scissor lifts with different maintenance requirements," Nunez said. "The main types of scissor lifts include: Battery-powered scissor lifts that feature either hydraulic or electric drive and rough-terrain machines which feature batteries with electric drive, diesel- or dual-fuel engines with hydrostatic drive systems."

Nunez said that because each model has different components and features, service technicians must refer to the original operator’s manual and service and maintenance manual for guidance on proper inspection and maintenance.

Below are guidelines for effectively maintaining electric scissor lifts.

Pre-start inspection of electric scissor lifts

Each day and each shift must begin with an electric scissor lift inspection and function test. This allows operators to find and fix problems prior to starting the job. Inspections can also catch problems that may go unnoticed before creating a hazard. Walkaround visual inspections should occur daily, at shift changes or any time a new operator takes over the machine.

Daily electric scissor lift inspections typically include:

  •     Checking for visible leakages (oil or battery fluids) or foreign objects.
  •     Looking for dents, weld or metal cracks or other visible damage.
  •     Checking the machine decals and placards to be sure they are clean and legible.
  •     Inspecting arms and centering link, and the platform gate to ensure it closes properly.
  •     Checking the hydraulic fluid levels and cleanliness.
  •     Verifying all applicable manuals are located on the machine

A function check must also be completed before each use in an area free of overhead and ground-level obstructions. Accessories and attachments should also be inspected.

General maintenance for scissor lifts

"Consider OSHA’s guidelines for scissor lift maintenance [below]," Nunez said. The two categories are Operational and Structural, respectively.

  • Check all fluid levels including oil, fuel, coolant, and hydraulics.
  • Inspect the machine thoroughly for leaks.
  • Check the wheels and tires. Look for worn tire treads and cracks or bubbles in the sidewalls. Make sure tire pressure is at the correct PSI. Check wheels for any structural damage.
  • Test the steering and brakes to ensure they are fully operational.
  • Check the battery and charge level to ensure power isn’t lost on the job.
  • Test all emergency controls to make sure they are working. This includes horns, gauges, lights, and backup alarms.
  • Make sure all personal protection devices are in place and working properly. These include safety harnesses, fall protection gear, and more.

Inspect these structural areas for signs of any problems:

  • Air, electric, pneumatic, and hydraulic systems
  • Insulating components
  • Written warnings, placards, and instructions
  • Mechanical fasteners and locking pins
  • Cable and wiring
  • Outriggers and stabilizers
  • Guardrails
  • Loose or missing parts
  • If any scissor lift components are damaged, missing, or not working correctly, do not use the lift until it has been fully repaired. Work zone hazards must be removed or enclosed by barriers to keep the lift at a safe distance.

Scissor lift battery maintenance

"Batteries are among the most frequent and highest cost drivers for scissor lift owners," Nunez said. "Batteries that are not properly maintained will degrade over time and require premature replacement. Therefore, inspecting and maintaining batteries is critical to ensure they are adequately charged and water levels are sufficient."

"It remotely analyzes the machine's battery charge/usage and provides diagnostic information on the battery and charger system," he said. "The proprietary algorithms from JLG are always learning about batteries and can recommend when it is time to add water, a key task that is hard to predict based on a variety of factors including usage, ambient temperature, prior maintenance history, and other variable conditions."

The system logs charge history and details on the machine controller, and a hardware module provides wireless connectivity and interaction. When used together, system components offer real-time information, including accurate state-of-charge, battery depletion tracking, fluid level monitoring, and charging history.

"Access to this level of battery information provides several key benefits for machine owners and operators, including increased uptime, reduced maintenance and replacement costs, and time savings through faster, proactive monitoring," Nunez said.

"On all-electric scissor lifts, the host of electric components can easily report their health status without requiring a technician to check/adjust valves, pressures, and other items seen on traditional scissor lifts," Nunez said.

The JLG Davinci AE1932 has self-diagnostics that allow operators to test all systems on their mobile device, eliminating the more traditional hand-held analyzer.

It operates on a single lithium-ion battery that can last more than 120 months, so owners may never have to replace a battery during the machine’s lifespan," Nunez said. "Opportunity charging and energy recovery while the platform is being lowered contribute to a 70% decrease in power consumption allowing for the use of one single lithium-ion battery that charges from discharged to fully charged in 3.5 hours.

"At the end of the day, regular inspections and preventive maintenance, fixing small problems proactively before they become more expensive and labor intensive to address, play a key role in lower overall repair costs and reduced downtime over the life of these machines," Nunez said.

"Fleet owners and operators should remain vigilant and continue to conduct all required inspections and maintenance to maximize productivity and ensure operator confidence in the field."

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.