Today's compact telehandlers are so versatile, so agile and so downright productive that they rival skid steers as the most useful piece of construction equipment on the jobsite.
Skid steers can dig more efficiently for longer periods of time than compact telehandlers, and full-size telehandlers can lift heavier loads to higher heights, but when it comes to material moving and lifting, a compact telehandler is hard to beat.
A staple in European agriculture for some time, compact telehandlers arrived on U.S. construction sites around 10 to 15 years ago. For European contractors, compact telehandlers have proven to be essential fleet machines for moving in and around tight spaces. Currently, the machines are very popular here on this side of the pond due to their versatility. Their popularity should continue to grow as manufacturers work on increasing the reach and capacity of these models. Models being introduced today offer a reach of around 19 feet, a barrier that manufacturers promise will be broken in the future.
Now one of the fastest-growing segments of the North American construction equipment market, compact telehandlers are used in landscaping, construction and municipal applications. They can place trees on slopes, extend sod over a freshly graded area, transport materials around the jobsite, load and unload trucks and the list goes on.
"Because of its versatility, telehandlers are often the first machine on many jobsites and the last to leave," says Luke Webber, senior market analyst at Genie Industries. "Their primary markets are construction and institutional. Common applications include parking garages, strip mall construction, new construction, multi-story construction, steel erecting, masonry, framing and landscaping."
Between a rock and a hard place
Compact telehandlers are much smaller dimensionally than traditional telescopic models. JLG's new super compact G5-18A, for example, measures 12 feet long, 71.5 in. wide and just 6 ft. 4 in. tall. Add a 126-inch outside turning radius to its small footprint and you have a machine ideally suited to working in tight spaces such as parking garages and inside buildings that don't have commercial truck doors.
Compacts are also easier to transport than their bigger brothers. Weighing in at between 9,000 and 14,000 pounds, compact telehandlers can be towed by a pickup truck and trailer, which means your customers can drive away with them, leaving you with one less delivery to make.
Designed primarily as lifting machines, compact telehandlers can lift and place materials to a height of a two-story building. Full-size models can go much higher, of course, but for many general contractors, the two-story height is more than adequate.
A tool carrier, too
Today's compact telehandlers are not just for lifting and placing applications, they are also adept at utilizing a variety of ground-engaging attachments such as buckets, augers, grapples and brooms.
Because of its boom design ? which is typically two-stage vs. three- or even four-stage ? a compact machine can do much more extensive loader work than its larger counterparts. And because some compact telehandlers can accommodate universal skid steer attachments, there's virtually no end to the attachment options.
"Unlike typical construction machines which utilize primarily a carriage and forks, compact telehandlers spend a great deal of their life with a bucket attached to the boom," says Brian Boeckman, product parent, North American Telehandlers, JLG Industries Inc.
Genie Industries also promotes the ability of its newly redesigned GTH-5519 to use skid steer attachments. "The manual Genie Quick-Attach system comes standard on the GTH-5519," says Webber. "It allows for fast, easy attachment connection. The hydraulic Quick-Attach system is optional. It connects and locks attachments in seconds while the operator remains in the cab."