The Vital Partnership: Air Systems and Boom Lifts

Boom lifts, those majestic machines with their extendable arms, are a staple in construction, maintenance, and various other industries. But their impressive reach wouldn’t be possible without a hidden hero: the air system. Let’s delve into the unique partnership between air systems and boom lifts, exploring how pressurized air keeps these workhorses functioning.

Boom Lift Basics:

Boom lifts come in two main varieties: articulating and telescopic. Articulating booms boast multiple hinge points, allowing them to maneuver around obstacles and reach awkward angles. Telescopic booms, on the other hand, extend their arm in a straight line, ideal for reaching high vertical distances. Regardless of the type, both rely on a hydraulic system for their primary movement. Hydraulic fluid, under pressure, powers pistons that extend and retract the boom sections and elevate the platform.

The Air System’s Role:

While hydraulics take center stage, air systems play a critical supporting role. Here are some key functions of air systems in boom lifts:

  • Starting the Engine: Many boom lifts utilize air starters. A small air compressor within the system builds pressure, which is then channeled to the starter motor. This burst of compressed air cranks the engine, a reliable method particularly in cold weather conditions.
  • Braking Systems: Air brakes are a common feature in boom lifts. When the operator presses the brake pedal, compressed air pushes against the pistons in the brake calipers, clamping the brake pads onto the wheels. This provides a powerful and responsive braking system, crucial for the machine’s safety.
  • Suspension Actuation: Some boom lifts employ air suspension systems. Air compressors fill bladders within the suspension, adjusting the ride height and stability based on the terrain and load. This enhances operator comfort and machine stability.
  • Platform Leveling: Modern boom lifts often feature automatic platform leveling systems. Compressed air powers actuators that adjust the platform’s tilt, ensuring a level work surface regardless of the boom’s angle.
  • Accessory Power: Boom lifts can be equipped with various air-powered attachments, such as drills or hammers. An onboard air compressor supplies the necessary pressure for these tools, offering versatility for a wider range of tasks.

Benefits of Air Systems:

  • Simplicity: Air systems are generally simpler than their hydraulic counterparts, with fewer moving parts. This translates to easier maintenance and potentially lower repair costs.
  • Safety: Compressed air leaks pose less of a safety hazard compared to hydraulic fluid leaks. Unlike hydraulic fluid, which can be slippery and flammable, air dissipates quickly.
  • Clean Operation: Air systems don’t require the use of fluids, eliminating the risk of environmental contamination in case of leaks. This makes them ideal for applications where cleanliness is paramount, such as indoor construction or food processing facilities.
  • Abundant Supply: Unlike hydraulic fluid, air is readily available and doesn’t need to be refilled or replaced. This simplifies operation and reduces ongoing maintenance needs.


The next time you see a boom lift reaching high or extending over an obstacle, remember the silent partner behind its impressive movements: the air system. This seemingly simple technology plays a vital role in ensuring the smooth, safe, and efficient operation of these essential work platforms. From powering the engine to leveling the platform, air systems keep boom lifts elevated, literally and figuratively, in the world of aerial work.