Described as “a forklift on steroids,” today's rigger trucks fill an important and growing gap in the heavy lift sector, especially in industrial and plant settings where machines and supplies continue to increase in weight.

Rigger trucks have been available for about 30 years, and their popularity has grown as manufacturers have customized these machines to meet specific needs. Today's rigger trucks have very large capacities – 30,000 to 200,000 pounds – and are built on a compact frame allowing them to maneuver in tight spaces.

Rigger Trucks have the endurance and capacity to start and finish a job in just a few hours, as compared to a crane that would take days, money and manpower,” says Michael Salter, president of Rigger Xtreme. “Rigger trucks are custom designed to fit into any situation and covering any capacity, with an example of the XC70-90. This truck is an extendable counterweight, which allows a rigger to pick at 70,000 pounds or at a maximum of 90,000 pounds. Built with small cushion tires, the XC70-90 offers the customer manageable usage, but still has the strength of a pneumatic.”

The versatility of a rigger truck can be increased by using a wide range of attachments now available. Most units are purchased with forks and a boom or jib. Forks allow an operator to pick up cargo from underneath, while the boom allows the operator to pick up items from above. Most manufacturers of these machines work one on one with their customers to assess usage and needs. Salter says that by assessing the customers' individual needs, his company seldom builds the same rigger truck twice. “There is always a demand for something new or better,” he says. “We see to it that each customer is treated as unique to our equipment.”

Options plus

There is a range of rigger truck styles and models. Solid cushion tired rigger trucks tend to be smaller capacity and are mainly used in indoor industrial settings. With a smaller pressure footprint, the solid pneumatic tired forklifts are slightly larger but can run on softer or rougher terrain.

Gary Dick, owner of Custom Mobile Equipment, says the market for rental rigger trucks is growing. Custom Mobile Equipment owns 10 Versa-Lift rigger trucks and recently ordered five additional units in anticipation of demand. “We mostly rent them to rigging companies,” says Dick. “They are used for all sorts of things, in every facet of the rigging industry. We rent them to companies that are setting up machinery tradeshows, and to companies that are moving plants from one state to another.”

Dick said he is shipping a rigger truck to Missouri to move some large printing presses and he has some rigger trucks in Reno, NV working in the corrugated industry. As they are compact, offer hydrostatic drive and steering, Dick says the machines are small but powerful, and highly maneuverable – a key attribute.

“The Versa-Lift 2535 can lift 25,000 pounds in its normal compact version,” Dick says. That's a lot of capacity for a small machine, a very streamlined machine.”

Other rigger truck manufacturers include Rigger Lift, Taylor Machine Works, Lift Systems Inc., Erickson's, and Rig-N-Lift to name a few.

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