By John Labonte
Choosing the right equipment is essential to ensure a safe and successful sign installation. Every project has a different set of variables which affect this decision, including size, weight, composition, fragility, and location.
Regardless of the type of sign a company is installing, it is important to do a site visit to pre-assess the needs of the project. This is a crucial step for most installations, to determine which pieces of equipment will help get a job done safely and efficiently.
Reach and accessibility are both good ways to gauge which types of equipment to use, but it is also important to make sure what is selected can fully support the sign, so it does not become damaged in the process.
Signs can be installed using bucket trucks, cranes, or a combination of both, depending on the complexity of the project.
Bucket trucks are the most basic pieces of equipment for companies to have in their fleet. They are commonly used for service work, site checks, and installation of small- to medium-sized signs.
An important aspect of the bucket truck is the reach it is able to provide. Available in a variety of heights, from 9.1 to 24.3 m (30 to 80 ft), it allows technicians to get a more elevated view of the project, as well as get closer to the area to do the installation. Bucket trucks are also smaller, more nimble, and easier to manoeuvre in tight corners, in busy parking lots, or on roadways. They also take up a lot less space and setup time on-site compared to larger trucks and cranes.
Cranes have come a long way from being a piece of equipment solely meant for lifting. Now, they can essentially double as bucket trucks, increasing their versatility and value on the jobsite.
Today’s cranes are most commonly available with a two-person basket, as well as a built-in jib/material handler and adjustable forks for sign face removal and installation. This allows for the option to have one or two technicians working within a space, and sometimes eliminates the need for more than one truck on-site. Of course, depending on the scope of the project, the truck can also simply be used as a crane. The two main focal points for these types of equipment are reach and lifting capacity, and they can range in height up to 25.9 m (85 ft).
Working in tandem
Sometimes, for heavier or more fragile signs, or more complex installations, it is best to use both a bucket truck and a crane. In these situations, the crane is used to lift the sign into place, then the bucket truck is used to carry out the installation.
From the bucket truck, one technician mounts the hardware to the surface, and ensures the wiring is properly connected. Once the sign is secured, the crane can be unhooked, and another technician can get into its basket to help with the final steps of the installation, such as putting caps and other finishing touches on the sign.
Splitting the work in half between the two pieces of equipment eliminates the need for the bucket truck to go back and forth on the site and helps get the job done quicker and more efficiently.