It’s difficult to believe that telehandlers were only invented 35 years ago to remove the need for labourers to carry hod loads of bricks and mortar up ladders. Today these machines can place pallets of bricks weighing a tonne or more on scaffolding some 17m in the air. The bigger models with lift heights above around 9m are fitted with stabilisers and inclinometers to ensure stability.Read More
It’s difficult to believe that telehandlers were only invented 35 years ago to remove the need for labourers to carry hod loads of bricks and mortar up ladders. Today these machines can place pallets of bricks weighing a tonne or more on scaffolding some 17m in the air. The bigger models with lift heights above around 9m are fitted with stabilisers and inclinometers to ensure stability.
Over the years additional functions have added to the telehandler’s capabilities including the advent of rotating telehandler which has a rotating upper structure similar to that of an excavator. Lift heights with the bigger rotating models now passes 20m and some can be fitted with a jib, leading some people to use them in place of a crane for lightweight lifting duties.
The latest trend in telehandlers is the ‘2x2’ machine which are less than 2m high and 2m wide. This allows these little machines to work inside buildings either for materials handling or demolition purposes.
Attachments such as bucket, sweepers, concrete mixing drums, grabs, clamps and even assess platform have also enhanced the telehandler’s capabilities to a point where it is usually one of the first machines on many construction sites and one of the last to leave.
Manufacturers in this market include JCB, Merlo, Manitou, Wacker Neuson, Bobcat, Terex (Genie), New Holland, Dieci, JLG, Caterpillar, Haulotte, Case, Skyjack, Senebogen, Sunward, Gehl, Mecalac, John Deere and Schaffer.
The emergence of telehandlers has transformed the world of materials handling. What used to be the domain of the forklift or the front-loader tractor is increasingly being occupied by these purpose-built machines. One of the main benefits the telehandler has over other machines is increased height and reach. This makes them an excellent choice where materials need to be stacked right up to roof height, and they can also provide a lot of flexibility by their ability to reach over obstacles and place or retrieve loads far to the back of a loading space. This is also useful when it comes to efficiently loading vehicles.
Placing loads far forward of the wheels, reaching high into roof spaces and extending over obstacles are all features that many operators value, as is the ability to load or unload an entire trailer from just one side. Many also use their telehandlers for access platform work in gutter clearing and the like. The four-wheel steering offered by many telehandlers is another feature that makes them hugely manoeuvrable and useful to have around in tight spaces. The hydrostatic and torque converter transmissions are also extremely efficient in switching the telehandler from forward to reverse in rapid and repetitive operations far more easily than a standard clutch. Many telehandlers can now handle loads of up to four tonnes, making them ideal for heavier jobs.
Telescopic handlers are now available in a wide variety of configurations and capacities, from the compact mini telehandler to the heavyweight artic. As far as layout goes, the design seems to have settled on a configuration with an offset cab, with this often being balanced by the installation of the engine on the opposing side of the unit. This set-up has the benefit of keeping the loading weight in check by moving the boom pivot point as far to the rear as possible. This does away with the need for a balancing counter-weight in most situations, freeing up the telehandler from unproductive baggage.
The design also means that the operator enjoys clear vision on threes sides of the telehandler, and it also provides easy access for service technicians, meaning that the telehandler spends as little time as possible in the workshop. It also means that self-service access points are easily reached by the operator. The offset cab offers easy access - something that becomes a boon when operations mean that the driver often has to get in and out of the machine. It also gives the machine a low centre of gravity and an excellent feeling of stability. It does, however, mean that the cab is constrained and a little narrower than it would be in a more standard cab on top set-up.
Thankfully, many manufacturers offer a standard central cab option and also the choice of rigid or articulated chassis. The trade-off here, however, is that the design places the boom directly in front of the operator, which obviously results in a restricted view. There is also a choice of permanent or selectable four-wheel-drive boom suspension for more comfortable transport.