Australia, C&L, Cranes & Lifting, EWP, Features, Net Zero

Lowering carbon footprints with Niftylift

Niftylift's machinery is focused on reducing carbon footprints for EWPs.

Niftylift was the first Elevated Work Platform (EWP) manufacturer to introduce the hybrid Power Plant concept to reduce carbon. Niftylift’s Australian Managing Director John King discusses the continued development of the Niftylift range.

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Having developed the first hybrid Power Plant for a  EWP in 2017, Niftylift’s Design and Engineering Team continued to examine ways of making the system more efficient. Today, these developments make up the HR 21 Hybrid MK2, which features a 21m boom and only weighs 6,500 kilograms.

“From developing the first hybrid system for Elevated Work Platforms we learned a lot of lessons, and in the ensuing years our Design and Engineering team set about redesigning the system to be even more efficient. The regen system now features a Stage V engine with electric boost which reduces fuel consumption by up to 50  per  cent.

“Today, this is really important, because job sites are now asking, ‘what is your carbon footprint?’. The Stage V diesel engine is under 19 kilowatts which doesn’t require particulate filters or diesel additives such as AdBlue, and it’s a lot quieter,” said John.

There are three stages of operating the machine. When the HR 21 Hybrid is running on diesel, whether that’s driving the machine or operating the boom, and not all power is being used, the system will automatically turn the electric motor on and store the extra energy in the batteries. 

“The you have the boost mode, which is used when you are faced with really steep or boggy ground and you need extra drive, the system will bring the electric motor in to back up the diesel engine, which it gives you a combined power of about 26 kilowatts. You can also operate the machine in electric mode which will give you 22 kilowatts of power,” said John.

Niftylift's machinery is focused on reducing carbon footprints for EWPs.
The regen system now features a Stage V engine with electric boost which reduces fuel consumption by up to 50%. Image: Prime Creative.

The efficiency of the hybrid system is demonstrated with the Niftylift Standard Duty Cycle (SDC), explains John.

“With the SDC we start with fully charged batteries and the SWL and the cage which is 250 kilos with the HR 21. We drive the machine 30 metres forward, 30 metres backwards, we take the boom all the way up, slew it through 90 degrees, bring it back down. That’s one cycle,” said John.


All cycles start with the machine in a fully charged state with the battery charger showing an indication that the charge is complete. The full safe working load of the machine must be present in the cage throughout the test, and all machine functions are operated at the maximum possible speed. The cycle is repeated until the point at which the machine can no longer operate, or the battery display is showing zero per cent. 

“The industry standard for a full day’s work is a minimum of 16 repetitions of our standard duty cycle or an SDC rating of 16. Most new electric only Niftylifts have an SDC rating of 32, which means they could comfortably perform two full working days on one charge,” said John. “The performance of the HR-21 is 26 cycles at which point the batteries are flat. We then start the diesel engine and run the machine on diesel, but you are also ‘regening’ at the same time. With this combination you are looking at around 67 cycles. We then run it back on electric again, receiving another 24 cycles. We then run the diesel engine again as a hybrid and regen for another 51 cycles. Then back on electric the machine manages 18 cycles. So, with 33 litres of diesel and fully charged batteries, we received 188 cycles from the machine. In terms of CO2, the machine runs at 458 grams of CO2 per cycle running on the diesel. All the information is there, and we can tell our customers exactly what’s happening with the machine and how they can best benefit from its efficiencies,”  said John.

Niftylift uses Absorbent Glass Matte (AGM) batteries that are maintenance free. 

“We have found them to be really good batteries. Everything on the electric machine is very similar to the other models in the range including the console layouts. Our booms now have the same console so once you’ve operated one Nifty, you can get straight onto the next one. It’s obvious how it all works,” said John.

“The new electric machines have an SDC rating of 66 cycles which is the equivalent of four days’ work, probably more if you are realistic. There’s no diesel consumption and the battery is fully recharged in 10 hours. All of our booms now feature telematics which enables a customer to monitor the machine from their computer or tablet, they can fault find, understand when it was last charged, what the diesel consumption is, how much fuel is on board and how many times the boom has been used… all the information is there,” he said.

The Niftylift range also features an override system which enables the operator to override the safety system if there is an  emergency. 

“If there is an emergency, the operator can override the cage weight management system which leaves the function open to abuse,” said John. 

“With the Niftylift range there is an override button in the cage. If this is pushed a small electric motor will bring the boom down very slowly and a light will come on in the console and stay on. When that machine returns to the yard and management are happy that there was a problem and they weren’t abusing the machine, they can ring us and we will give them a one-time code to clear the warning light,” said John.

Niftylift's machinery is focused on reducing carbon footprints for EWPs.
Niftylift’s HR 21 Hybrid MK2 which features a 21m boom and only weighs 6,500 kilograms. Image: Prime Creative Media.

Niftylift is committed to reducing its carbon footprint in all aspects of the business.

“We’re a very green company and we are constantly working on processes which enable us to be as green and as clean as we possibly can. Obviously, we make products that are lower in weight than competitive brands. This is because we manufacture with higher quality steel which enables us to build our product with thinner steel.

“By using thinner steel, we don’t require so much counterweight which enables us to bring down the weight of the machines. We’re all talking about CO2 and carbon emissions. 1.85t of CO2 are produced for every tonne of steel used in a machine. Our machines weigh a lot less than competitive models. When our machines reach 10 years, we refurbish and recycle the trailer mounts by sending them back to UK where they strip them down, rebuild them and put them into the secondhand market,” said John.

“We try to cover every eventuality with our machines. The construction sector is increasingly focused on reducing carbon footprints and carbon emissions. Niftylift is leading the way in manufacturing and maintaining product in sectors where the environment is a priority,” said John. 

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