Author Archives: Steve Shirk

Load King Stinger 10-47 boom truck
Boom Trucks: A Booming Business Opportunity For Custom Truck One Source

But what are boom trucks, you ask?

They are an essential piece of equipment in construction and a great convenience for construction and utility workers. A boom truck is a hydraulic crane that allows construction teams to lift heavy objects from the ground to the roof. It works with objects that are irregular in shape, too.

But that’s not all. A flatbed allows for transportation of construction materials to different parts of a work site, and with the man-basket attached to the boom, the boom truck can lift workers to reach and inspect buildings from different angles.

At Custom Truck One Source (CTOS), we have found that boom trucks are mostly used in the United States. They are less prevalent in other parts of the world, as their large size can make them difficult to maneuver in the relatively narrower roads of Europe, for example. “At CTOS, we believe in boom trucks so much, we have literally bought into them,” says Senior Vice-President of our crane division, John Lukow.

Custom Truck One Source acquired the assets of the North American boom truck and truck crane business from Terex in 2019.

“We bought the assets of the Terex boom truck and truck crane business and spent over three months moving the production line from Oklahoma to our Kansas City home,” says Lukow. “We spent July and August of last year just setting up.”

Rebranding Efforts

Custom Truck One Source first followed up by rebranding. The legacy Terex models are now part of the Load King brand. The Terex BT 2047 boom truck is now known as the Load King Stinger 10-47 and the Terex BT 70100 is the Load King Stinger 35-100.

As with all CTOS equipment, they are currently available for sale (new or used) or lease.

Lukow offers an interesting background on the Stinger name for the boom trucks. “The Stinger name can actually be traced to the history of boom trucks,” he says. “Ray Pittman was in from the start of them. In the Sixties, his firm made boom trucks in Olathe, Kansas and used the Stinger name. There was an ownership change, and the production line moved to Iowa and then onto Oklahoma. Now that we have bought the products, we reintroduced the name.” Stinger is a name that resonates with users and with Olathe, the original factory, not far from here. Its return to Kansas City is a homecoming.

While we are initially rebranding and re-badging, two new boom trucks are soon to be introduced. “One is a 35USt machine with a five-section boom. Terex always kept to shorter four-section booms, but the market has been waiting for a longer five-section boom for a long time,” says Lukow, who sees a huge opportunity in the market. “Our other new product is an 80USt machine, with a six-section boom and 160-ft boom length. So, longer booms on 35USt and 80USt cranes will be our first projects since moving the business here.”

Longer Booms

CTOS has noted the trend for longer booms while also observing federal and state road permit laws. Customers have been seeking trucks with longer booms and bigger cranes. “Using higher strength steels and aluminum to make cranes lighter is one of the ways you can put more lift onto the same piece of road,” explains Lukow. “The 40USt was a big-capacity boom truck 15 years ago, and now, 60USt is big. Times change, and we now and we have plans for a major upgrade to the  80USt model.”

We believe there is plenty of room for smaller trucks that start around 50USt. These have special features and are ideal in tight spaces. Custom Truck One Source is now building prototypes.

Engineers have been hired from Terex and testing is underway to make sure we deliver the perfect product. Lukow says, “We are making a statement with our warranties. Terex offered two years, while we offer three years for parts and five years for structural work, the boom, turret, T box and so on. We are walking the talk with this. We are putting our money where our mouth is.



Construction New Year 2020
7 New Year Resolutions That Construction Managers Should Make – And Keep!

By definition, the work of construction managers involves many responsibilities.  After all, they not only have to supervise and direct operations at a building site, they also have to make sure that projects are completed on time, within budget, and their workers are safe at all times.

The job comes with a host of responsibilities, and to help managers do their job to the best of their ability, the following recommitments should be made, and more importantly, kept, at the start of a new year.

(Remember that over 80% of New Year Resolutions are broken by February 17th!)

# 1: Safety First

It is absolutely essential to maintain safety standards on a construction site. Accidents do happen on the job and as a construction manager, safety should always be your key concern. Conduct inspections of equipment and tools every day to make sure everything is in good working order. Make safety checks of equipment like harnesses and braces mandatory before workers start on a job. Conduct regular safety drills so everyone knows what they are supposed to do in an emergency situation.

# 2: Team Meetings

You and your workers share responsibilities on a construction site. Everyone has to look out for one another as construction is a team job. Meet with your crew as often as possible to get feedback on any worksite issues. Construction managers can learn something new every day. Listen to veterans on the team. They can provide invaluable feedback and information based on their vast experience.

# 3: Prepare for all eventualities

Anything can happen on a construction site, so be prepared. Stay alert to inclement weather bulletins, and be ready to close the site in case of storms if necessary. Your workforce comes first and making them work through heavy rain or increasing snow can endanger their lives. Keep emergency equipment like flashlights, generators and a working radio at hand to deal with unpredictable occurrences. Make sure your work area is secure and preferably have security guards on the site should there be an unforeseen incident like a terror attack or attempts at the theft of expensive equipment.

# 4: Delegate Authority

It is impossible for a construction manager to be at all places at one time. You may be summoned to a meeting offsite, for example, or called to settle some matter out of your office. Having trusted people around you, preferably experienced hands ready to take up the baton in your absence, is not just a blessing but a necessity. Be willing to accept advice from others. Know you cannot do everything by yourself, and let others share the workload. This will lead to less stress and allow you to take care of more important things without losing the big picture.

# 5: Stay Updated

Construction is an ever-changing sector. There are new developments in the field every day, be it equipment or guidelines on how to go about the job or even city ordinances. Staying abreast of new developments helps keep you up to date with the latest in the field and also allows you to make changes as needed while on the job, which could make life easier for workers as well.

# 6: Set Goals

As with every New Year’s resolution, there is a matter of setting goals for yourself. Be sure they are realistic and achievable. Setting goals that are almost impossible to achieve may lead to you thinking you have failed, even though it may not be your fault. Realistic goals, once achieved, will give you a sense of fulfillment.

# 7: Get Certified

Create some value-addition for yourself. More qualifications can make you even better at what you may already do very well. One such qualification would be project management certification. Once certified, you would get to work on more prestigious projects not to mention earn a higher salary.


Good luck, and a Happy New Year!


Construction Hologram
Wearable Technology is Proving to be a Game-Changer in the Construction Industry

Construction technology (contech) is much in the news these days. A fresh spurt of investments in semi-automated/fully-automated construction equipment, innovative tools, machinery, modifications and software is projected to bring down rising construction costs and tackle shortage in workforce. From all reports, the outlook in 2019 is very optimistic.

Wearable technology is expected to play a cornerstone role in contech’s forward movement, improving on-site safety and streamlining project management within the industry. Over 250 million smart wearables are predicted to be in use by the end of the year, enhancing information dissemination, data collection and on-site safety. Plus, technology is attractive to millennials who are more likely to join the workforce, if construction loses its `old fashioned’ label and displays mass adoption of smart solutions.

But what does wearable technology in construction, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), look like?

Here are 3 examples of wearable technology products currently in use, which draw a vivid picture of what innovations we might expect to see in the near future:

# 1: HoloLens

Holographic computing, created by Microsoft, is fundamentally changing the construction industry by allowing users to overlay 3D building plans over a job site, so project managers can see the site in its entirety – down to nuts, bolts and hangers — before it is even built.

The HoloLens headsets, in collaboration with the Trimble Connect hard-hat solutions app, facilitate hands-free access to blueprints, teleconferencing in the field, inspection, post-maintenance, employee training and so much more in a mixed reality (a technology that `mixes’ virtual and real worlds) environment.

# 2: Spot-R

Spot-R, created by Triax Technology, is a safety solution clip that updates supervisors on the whereabouts of every worker on site. The wearable sensors collect and transmit real-time workforce and safety information.

On many job sites, supervisors often don’t have a way of knowing if a worker is injured or experiencing a safety incident at a remote location. Spot-R detects such incidents and sends out timely alerts with information on who, when, where and what, including distance of fall. This results in quicker response time, and reduces the risk of compounding injury. Workers can also use Spot-R to inform site personnel about perceived site anomalies, like, say, loose scaffolding, from a distant location.

# 3: Smart Cap

Smart Cap is a unique technology that monitors fatigue based on EEG readings and proven algorithms. This wearable technology prevents `micro sleep’ by alerting construction workers, through vibration and noise, if they are falling asleep on the job. Smart Caps also apprise supervisors if a case of fatigue is hampering the safety of a worker, thus reducing accidents, injuries, and even unfortunate incidents of death, on a jobsite.

As the number of smart wearables used globally is estimated to rise from 250 million to 500 million between 2018 and 2021, the implementation of wearable technology in construction is also expected to keep pace, as the potential benefits are multifold. With an aging workforce retiring out of the industry, and a technology-savvy generation taking their place, construction seems finally ready to embrace IoT innovations that will prove to be the most efficient safety and efficiency tools in one of the world’s most dangerous and diverse industries.


History of the Heavy Equipment Industry

`Heavy equipment’ is not necessarily known as such because of size and weight. They’re in fact vehicles, specially designed for construction jobs that mostly involve earthwork.

For anyone interested in knowing what exactly constitutes `heavy equipment’, the following 16 vehicles help make up this category:

  • Excavator
  • Backhoe
  • Dragline Excavator
  • Bulldozer
  • Grader
  • Wheel Tractor Scraper
  • Trencher
  • Loader
  • Tower Crane
  • Paver
  • Compactor
  • Telehandler
  • Feller Buncher
  • Dump Truck
  • Pile Boring Machine
  • Pile Driving Machine

Though people rarely stop to think how indispensable heavy equipment was in the building of homes they live in, offices they work in and roads they drive on, this industry is larger than any single manufacturing segment of the US economy.

And the story of its evolution is quite interesting too.

Let’s begin at the beginning…


LATE 1800s

Between 1820 and 1860, the visual map of the United States was transformed by unprecedented urbanization and rapid territorial expansion. These changes fueled the Second Industrial Revolution, which peaked between 1870 and 1914.

Several inventors were working at this time on machinery that would support large-scale agricultural jobs and make them more efficient.

Benjamin Leroy Holt, an American inventor, manufactured a combine harvester in 1886 for agricultural purposes, followed by a steam engine tractor in 1890. Two years later, John Froelich developed the first stable gasoline-powered tractor with forward and reverse gears.

These inventions are widely accepted as precursors to construction heavy equipment, as we know them today.


The early 1990s saw the introduction of machines that could be used in construction projects. Many of these pieces of equipment were adaptations of models that were originally designed for agricultural use.

Prominent among manufacturers of the time was Galion Iron Works of Galion, Ohio, which was founded in 1907 and built motor and pull graders, steam and internal combustion rollers, wheeled scrapers and hydraulic cranes.


The first bulldozer — a modified Holt farm tractor — was manufactured in the 1920s. As their ability to move earth was proven, they grew quickly in popularity. The design was transformed into what we see today: bulldozers with caterpillar traction and an arsenal of tools and blades for moving earth, shifting boulders and removing tree stumps.

Originally they were called bull graders. The name bulldozer was adopted in the early 1930s. It was the concept that inspired the design of the first military tanks.


United States was reeling under the impact of the Great Depression, and the heavy machinery industry took a hit as well. Though some landmark constructions did take place – such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge – manufacturing companies had to resort to selling off assets to stay afloat during these trying, economic times.


ICUEE 2019



World War II had a far-reaching impact on how people lived. With the baby boom, came a new interest in suburban living. Families began to leave congested cities and migrate to the suburbs – which meant more and more construction opportunities all over the United States.

Another major event in the evolution of heavy equipment in the 1950s was the passing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act (1956), which resulted in the construction of the Interstate Highway system. The project, massive in its scope, took 35 years to complete and heavy construction equipment were stars of this nationwide show.


The Interstate Highway project was fully underway, and the heavy equipment market was thriving. Hydraulic systems gained popularity over cable-operated controls. This was also a time when the size of equipment available underwent a major change: they became monster-size. Equipment used in surface mining became bigger, with the world’s largest dragline, the world’s biggest shovel and a 360-ton haul truck.


As machinery became more sophisticated, manufacturers turned their attention to safety and built ROPs, canopies, handholds and guards. Compact wheel loaders became popular in the United States.

The Arab oil embargo in 1973 came as a boon for the industry as the demand for coal skyrocketed and large earth-moving equipment became precious commodity. The wait time for a piece of equipment could be three to four years!


With the Interstate Highway project complete, the heavy equipment industry fell into a recession. Several companies folded or amalgamated to keep their heads above water.

Of the four major companies supplying earth-moving equipment — International Harvester, Caterpillar, Euclid and Allis Chalmers —  only Caterpillar was able to power through these tough times.


For the first time, the heavy equipment industry came up against a set of regulations that continues to this day: environmental laws. The diesel engine emissions standards kicked off with Tier 1 in 1996, and manufacturers were forced to build cleaner and more efficient diesel engines.


As operating costs rose, the trend shifted from ownership to rental. Heavy equipment manufacturers had to adhere to the specifications of rental companies that were looking for durability rather than the innovations that a private contractor would shell out big bucks for.

EPA Tier 2 off-road emissions regulations for diesel engines came into effect from 2001 to 2006, forcing manufacturers to take environmental concerns on board. EPA Tier 3 regulations were phased in from 2006-2008.


With residential and commercial building work carrying on apace, the heavy equipment industry is currently on a growth trajectory. Construction equipment manufacturers are advancing in telematics, electromobility and autonomous machinery, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is being applied to ensure better machine uptime, higher machine lifecycle values and brand new customer solutions.

Going by statistics presented by the Bureau of Labor, the employment of construction equipment operators will also increase by 10% through 2024.


Dual Rated Equipment - Safety Concerns
Dual-Rated Equipment – What Are the Risks?

When stringent regulations exist, some agencies always try to find `loopholes’ to avoid them. The influx of `dual-rated’ or `dual purpose’ cranes-cum-aerial lifts over the last few years is a worrying example of this.

Certain equipment manufacturers are clubbing the two together in order to subvert OSHA’s (Occupational Safety And Health Administration) regulation, 29 C.F.R. § 1926.1431(h), that stipulates that a crane operator is required to conduct a trial lift before raising any personnel off the ground with a boom truck crane.

Since this safety measure is both time and labor intensive, some companies want to avoid it. So manufacturers of `dual-rated’ equipment are taking advantage of the fact that the test lift is not necessary for “machinery originally designed as vehicle-mounted aerial devices”. In other words, aerial lifts.

Examples of OSHA’s Aerial Lift Rules

To better understand OSHA’s rulings on mandatory trials before any worker can be lifted with a boom truck crane, here are some examples from the organization’s website:

  • You must make a trial lift with the unoccupied personnel platform loaded at least to the anticipated lift weight. It must travel from ground level, or any other location where employees will enter the platform, to each location at which the platform may be hoisted and positioned.
  • When you will reach multiple locations from a single set-up position, the trial lifts must reflect that. You can perform individual trial lifts or a single trial lift , moving the platform sequentially to each location. Your aerial must use the method that you will actually use to hoist the personnel.
  • You must perform a trial lift immediately prior to each shift in which you will be hoisting personnel. Additionally, you must repeat the trial if you set up in a new location, return to a previous location, or change the lift route.
  • Immediately after the trial lift, a competent person must conduct a visual inspection. They should check the equipment, base support or ground, and personnel platform. This is to determine whether the trial lift has exposed any defects or produced any adverse effect.
  • Any condition found during the trial lift and subsequent inspection(s) that fails to meet a requirement of this standard or otherwise creates a safety hazard must be corrected before hoisting personnel.

As is pretty apparent from these regulations, the task of trial lifts is a detailed and rigorous one.

The Issue with Dual-Rated Equipment

Some unscrupulous manufacturers are taking full advantage of this. They’re marketing `dual-rated’ equipment that is apparently compliant with both the design standards for cranes (ASME B30.5) and for aerial lifts (ANSI A92.2), so operators can avoid the test lifts altogether.

But here is the problem with such a solution: it is not tenable or grounded in facts.

Firstly, “dual-rated” cranes must do a test lift. This is because they were not “originally designed” to be vehicle-mounted aerial devices. Therefore, any operator who does not test lift a “dual-rated” crane before lifting personnel is in violation of OSHA.

Secondly, the standards of cranes and aerial lifts are not identical. Some industry experts even challenge that equipment can feasibly be in accordance to such a dissimilar set of standards.

OSHA’s Stance

In 2010, OSHA reviewed and revised its regulations applicable to cranes and issued the following commentary: “…Equipment covered by this section [cranes] is primarily designed for hoisting materials, not people. [The Committee] concluded that it was important to differentiate between equipment primarily designed for moving personnel, such as an aerial lift, as compared to equipment that is primarily designed to lift materials. Per the Committee, a personnel platform attached to equipment covered by this section presented a greater hazard than a machine for moving personnel.

Could OSHA’s stance on these purported “dual-rated” equipment be any clearer?

If any reader of this article is considering the purchase of such a dangerous equipment to circumvent trial lifts, we at Custom Truck One Source strongly advise against it.

Cranes are NOT aerial lifts.  And no amount of dual-purposing will make their applications combine in a single equipment.

Safety of human lives is of primary importance on a job site. And there are big penalties if a worker injury occurs while operating a “dual-rated” crane. These include fines, damages, loss of reputation, etc. The risk of using such equipment, simply to avoid trials, is just not worth it.

Please contact Custom Truck Once Source, if you need more advice and guidance on this matter. We DO NOT sell “dual-rated” equipment. We’ll help you make a choice that is legal, safe and profitable in the long run.

Construction Trends in 2019
5 Construction Industry Trends for 2019

Trends come and go in every industry – and construction is no different. The innovations, findings, opinions, as well as recommendations from a variety of business touchstones in 2018 is shaping the future trajectory of construction in 2019. Here are some of the highlights you need to know:

# 1: Better Software Solutions

More and more small and medium-sized construction companies will be jumping onto the management-by-software bandwagon, and adopting the latest software solutions to accomplish everything from bidding and estimating, project management, scheduling, billing, accounting and human resources.

# 2: Green Consciousness

The construction industry accounts for more than 20% of global emissions. Therefore, going green is a primary concern in this sector. The concerted efforts to make construction projects more resource-efficient and environmentally conscious is going to increase this year. It will impact everything from planning, design, building, demolition and clean-up.

# 3: More Drone Applications

Unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with cameras can carry out a variety of functions in construction. For instance, they perform data collections, safety inspections, project progress reportage, etc. In 2019, we will see a lot more applications for drones on construction sites. They can gather information from remote, hard-to-reach locations, making work more efficient and job sites a whole lot safer.

# 4: Going Modular

Modular construction, prefabricated buildings that are constructed in factories, is the quickest way to develop residential areas without impacting the surrounding environment or being dependent on existing weather conditions. Plus, pre-planned design controls wastage of material, which makes the buildings cheaper too. This year, we expect to see an increasing popularity of modular buildings in both residential and commercial sectors.

# 5: More Safety in the Construction Industry

Accidents and fatalities at job sites have been increasing over the past few years, and 2019 is going to be a year when safety equipment for crews will be re-analyzed and upgraded with new technology in the construction industry. Smart boots, for example, have GPS devices to track workers, especially those performing jobs in remote or elevated locations.



Construction Equipment at Custom Truck One Source
7 Most Popular Trucks & Heavy Equipment That Your Construction Company Needs


  • Before construction can begin, the land has to be cleared of what’s already on it. Which is why the dozer is one of the first pieces of heavy equipment to show up on a construction site. Using the heavy, flat, metal blade attached to the front, dozers push large amounts of soil, dirt, rocks and other debris out of the way to another location. Large construction projects require a lot of preliminary site work. Hefty dozers accomplish much of this is. They strip the surface of the site clean in preparation for the digging of foundation holes to begin.


  • Once the dozers have done the clearing work, the Front Loaders come in. They haul the collected piles of dirt and debris to the dump trucks. Front Loaders – also known as Bucket Loader or Scoop Loader – is a type of tractor that has a titling bucket in the front, attached on movable arms to lift and move material. The bucket on Front Loaders can hold 3-6 cubic meters of debris at a time.


  • Dump Trucks are the backbone of construction sites. This heavy equipment performs several jobs without which a construction project could hardly move forward. The first and most important is hauling soil and other debris away from the work site for disposal. They transport a variety of material (except soft soil) to the construction site as well.


  • Backhoe loaders are a tractor-like equipment with a bucket in the front, a shovel at the back and a swiveling seat to position the operator facing in whichever direction may be needed during a job. Backhoes rotate only 200 degrees, but they are very versatile and extremely customizable. In the construction industry, they’re used for a variety of purposes, such as digging trenches, moving dirt, backfill, etc.


  • Mixers allow you to produce your own batches of mixed concrete. It can then be transported directly to where it’s needed on the construction site. Depending on the average size of your construction projects, you’ll either need a large mobile concrete mixer on the back of a truck or you will be able to use a smaller heavy-duty, mechanically fed, drum mixer.


  • Trenchers are earth-moving pieces of equipment that employ a metal chain and high-strength, steel `teeth’ to cut through the ground soil like a chainsaw would cut through the trunk of a tree. They are used to dig trenches, install drainage systems, lay down pipes etc. at a construction site.


  • Construction work would be a nightmare if there weren’t any cranes to do the heavy lifting! A crane is an invaluable piece of heavy equipment, equipped with wire ropes or chains, sheaves and hoist rope, that lifts and lowers material, and moves them horizontally.

Construction - Heavy Equipment Infographic

Got Construction heavy equipment needs?

Call Custom Truck One Source at 844-282-1838 or get in touch with us by clicking HERE. We’re the nation’s first, true single-source provider of specialized trucks and heavy equipment solutions.

With sales, rentals, aftermarket parts and service, equipment customization, remanufacturing, financing solutions, and asset disposal, our team of experts, vast equipment breadth and integrated network of locations across North America offer superior service and unmatched efficiency for our customers.


Construction Jobsite in Winter
Carrying On with Construction Work During Winter – 6 Major Concerns

Winter weather is not conducive to construction work for obvious reasons. This why most construction projects are put on hold until the weather becomes cooperative again. But shutting down operations until Spring isn’t always an option. Road building, bridge building and other priority construction projects may have to continue in spite of the rising costs, weather challenges, worker safety and other concerns that are part and parcel of such a venture.

Listed below, are 6 factors one must be aware of when a construction project cannot wait for the worst of winter to pass:


It is nearly impossible to know if a construction project will be completed on time when working in winter weather. There are too many variables. Patience is key when snowstorms, blizzards, and other unpredictable seasonal hazards interfere with your plans. Budgeting for these possibilities has to be a primary concern before embarking on a winter construction project to make sure the project is viable in spite of the possibility of time loss and setbacks.


Ground freeze can easily run as much as 12 inches deep during cold weather in some parts of United States and cutting through such thick swathes of frozen soil is a major challenge for construction projects that do not stop for winter – even with heavy digging equipment like excavators.

Ground Thaw Machines may be the most practical solution in these circumstances. Powered mostly by diesel, Ground Thaw Machines heat a mix of glycol and water and passes the heated solution through rubber hoses that are laid on the frozen ground and covered with a blanket of concrete for a few days to melt the ground freeze enough to make it pliable for excavation. Once the hard crust of soil freeze is removed, then the work of dredging further down can carry on much more easily because the top layer of freeze has already been removed.


Laying down concrete in winter is fraught with problems that show up when the ground under it begins to thaw in Spring, causing the concrete to move and shift. Using a Ground Thaw Machine to melt the freeze before pouring concrete and adding anti-freeze to the concrete mixture is a practical solution for this. Concrete emits a huge amount of heat when it is first laid down. Harnessing all that heat with insulating blankets will ease the job process as well.



Custom Truck One Source Inventory



Fuel costs invariably rise at winter construction job sites. Fuel consumption increases significantly with equipment like mixers, on-site heaters etc.


Another major concern on job sites during winter is snow removal. There is no easy way to predict how much snow will accumulate while construction work is in progress. Without a swift – and daily – snow removal plan in place, the job site can quickly become impassable, making expenditures skyrocket.


Imagine this. A construction worker is trying to pull out something from his/her pocket while working in winter. The gloves have to come off. The heavy, outer layer of winter protection gear has to be unzipped before the pocket can be reached. And afterwards the reverse process has to happen again. An 3-5 second action in summer can take as much as a minute or two to accomplish. This minor example shows how many other `invisible’ ways that working time can be expended during winter.


Need to buy or lease trucks and other heavy equipment for winter construction projects?

Call Custom Truck One Source at 844-282-1838 or get in touch with us by clicking HERE. We’re the nation’s first, true single-source provider of specialized trucks and heavy equipment solutions.

With sales, rentals, aftermarket parts and service, equipment customization, remanufacturing, financing solutions, and asset disposal, our team of experts, vast equipment breadth and integrated network of locations across North America offer superior service and unmatched efficiency for our customers.



Danger - Dual Equipment
Why Dual-Rated Equipment Isn’t Worth Compromising Safety

This below opinion was provided by Elliott Equipment; a write-up on the rise and fall of “Dual-Rated” ideology and why you should think twice before making such a purchase, as there are safety and operational risks which should be considered and assessed. Before purchasing dual-rated equipment, please contact your Custom Truck One Source representative so that we can discuss what equipment best meets your safety and operational requirements.


The purpose of this letter is to inform you about certain safety concerns raised by a “dual-rated” crane/aerial lift and the feasibility of operating such equipment in a manner that is both safe and legal. 


In the past couple of years, several companies in the crane and aerial lift manufacturing industry have started marketing some of their cranes as “dual-rated” or “dual purpose.”  Typically, these companies will advertise that they have designed a crane that is compliant with both the design standards for cranes (ASME B30.5) and for aerial lifts (ANSI A92.2). 


What makes a “dual-rated” crane attractive to some operators is that they appear to provide a “loop-hole” by which an operator can by-pass the mandatory requirement of performing a test lift before a crane is used to lift people.  Under OSHA’s regulations (29 C.F.R. § 1926.1431(h)), a crane operator is required to conduct a trial lift before lifting personnel with a boom truck crane.  However, the regulations requiring a test lift are inapplicable to “machinery originally designed as vehicle-mounted aerial devices (for lifting personnel).”  29 C.F.R. § 1926.1401(c)(5).  Therefore, some companies in the industry have taken the position that because their cranes are in compliance with the standards for aerial devices (ANSI A92.2) their machines are aerial lifts and not subject to the OSHA-mandated test lift for cranes. 


But this interpretation of the standards and OSHA regulations is misguided and compromises safety.


First, the text of the OSHA regulations states a test lift is required of “dual-rated” cranes because these machines were “originally designed” to be cranes and were not originally designed as vehicle-mounted aerial devices.  So, even assuming for argument’s sake a “dual-rated” crane meets the requirements of both the crane standards (ASME B30.5) and aerial lifts (ANSI A92.2), a test lift is still required under the OSHA regulations because these machines were not originally designed to be vehicle-mounted aerial devices.  An operator who does not perform a test lift on a “dual-rated” crane prior to lifting personnel, is in violation of the OSHA regulations, compromises safety, and exposes itself potentially to OSHA’s oversight and discipline.  It has been Elliott Equipment Company’s experience that collaborating and complying with OSHA on workplace procedures for safety reduces accidents and helps keep workers safe.


Second, it is misleading to say that a single unit is compliant with both the crane standards and the aerial lift standards because these two standards are not identical.  As shown by the chart below, there are several meaningful ways in which the crane standard and aerial lift standards differ:


ANSI A92.2 (Aerial Lift) ASME B30.5(Crane)
Level Ground Stability 1.5:1 1.18:1
5 Degree Slope Stability 1.33:1 N/A
Structural Load 2:1 1.6:1
Trial Lift Required No Yes
Proof Test Required No Yes

Third, there are several authorities in the industry who support the contention that a “dual-rated” crane cannot be feasibly designed.  I have attached two opinion letters: one authored by ASME committee member Bradley Closson, and one authored by ANSI committee member David Merrifield.  Mr. Closson’s opinion letter recognizes the design standards for cranes and aerial lifts both exclude their application to different types of equipment.  Therefore, from a standards perspective it is not possible to have a single piece of equipment that is subject to both sets of standards.  Mr. Merrifield, who also recognized the standards do not allow for a “dual-rated” machine, opined that any such machine would need to meet the requirements of both sets of standards, and where the standards conflicted the more restrictive of the two standard must govern.  In other words, if the crane standards require a test lift, and the aerial device standards do not, then operators of a “dual-rated” machine need to perform a test lift. 


Additionally, in 2010, OSHA reviewed and revised its regulations applicable to cranes and issued commentary, which I have also attached.  As part of the review for 29 C.F.R. § 1926.1431, one commenter suggested to OSHA that safety precautions, like a test lift, should not be required when a crane is being used to lift personnel with an attached boom.  The commenter suggested this use “essentially transforms the crane into a large aerial lift.”  But this thinking was rejected and was called “unpersuasive.”  In response, the OSHA committee reviewing the regulations stated:

The Agency finds this comparison unpersuasive. As stated above, equipment covered by this section is primarily designed for hoisting materials, not people. [The Committee] concluded that it was important to differentiate between equipment primarily designed for moving personnel, such as an aerial lift, as compared to equipment that is primarily designed to lift materials. In the judgment of the Committee, a personnel platform attached to equipment covered by this section presented a greater hazard than a machine that is designed for moving personnel.


OSHA Response to comments regarding 29 C.F.R. Part 1926 (2010) (emphasis added). 


            The reason for OSHA’s concerns regarding blurring the lines between cranes and aerial lifts are well-founded given that cranes are not designed to do the same work as aerial lifts.  It is much easier to overload a crane, which is equipped with a winch and load line, than to overload an aerial lift.  It is easier to know the forces exerted on an aerial device, which is lifting one or two workers and their parts, than it is to know the forces exerted on a crane.  For example, the forces needed to loosen objects set in the ground with a crane are substantial and can cause overloads on the crane.  Such an overload is far less likely to occur on an aerial device that is used just to lift people and their equipment or tools. 


            Cranes are not aerial lifts.  They are designed to do different things.  Just because a crane has a mode that is purportedly compliant with the standards for aerial lifts, this does not convert the crane into an aerial lift.  Safety must be of primary importance on a job site, especially when the work involves lifting people.  When balanced against the potential fines, damages, and loss of reputation if a worker is injured while operating a “dual-rated” crane, the time-savings from not performing a test lift are nullified.  If a machine is designed as a crane, then it’s a crane and is subject to the requirements for cranes.  Advertising a crane as “dual-rated” is a semantic trick designed to circumvent the clear safety rules that apply to cranes.


            Elliott Equipment Company is committed to providing the safest equipment possible to our customers.  While Elliott could advertise its cranes as “dual-rated” cranes/aerial lifts, Elliott chooses not to do so because (1) “dual-rated” machines are prohibited by the safety standards, and (2) “dual-rated” machines may encourage operators to engage in unsafe and illegal practices. 


            To date, no independent authority (e.g., OSHA, ASNI, ASME) has recognized that a “dual-rated” crane/aerial lift is an appropriate design.  If at some point in the future an independent authority does recognize a “dual-rated” crane/aerial lift as an appropriate design, Elliott will be able to design such a machine.  But until such guidance is given, Elliott will only design machines that are consistent with the applicable standards and laws in effect.


            Elliott wishes to inform you of these issues associated with “dual-rated” cranes and requests modification of the RFB so that you seek an appropriate piece of equipment that complies with the law and that is safe for its operators.  Please feel free to contact us if you would like additional information or to discuss these matters. 


Custom Truck One Source CEO, Fred Ross, also commented on the issue:

Those machines are designed to do completely different jobs. One is a crane and one is a personnel lift. Personnel lifts are built to a higher standard of safety versus a crane. Cranes are almost always overloaded, close to the point of failure, and to act like flipping a switch changes that is physically impossible. OSHA doesn’t believe in it, I don’t believe in it and it’s the reason Custom Truck One Source went with the E-Series, which is designed strictly as a personnel lift. Safety is not the place to try to save money—and the only reason for dual-rated machines is to save money. Lives are more important than money. Period.