Once you know the weight of the material, you will need to know how high and how far out you want to lift it. Consider that as a telehandler extends its fork frame beyond its stowed position, its lifting capacity is de-rated by the manufacturer so it can remain stable while being operated on firm level ground, Webber explains.
Some manufacturers incorporate stabilizers on telehandlers to help improve stability while lifting heavier loads. In certain cases, this can improve the lifting capability at maximum horizontal outreach by as much as six times, as is the case with the Genie GTH-1056 (500 lbs. at 42 ft. with stabilizers up and 3,000 lbs. with stabilizers down).
An increasingly common trend is the use of foam-filled tires. "This offers multiple benefits," says Kramer. "It adds more ballast, or weight, at the base of the machine, which can enhance stability. Depending on the size of the machine, it can add 400 to 500 lbs. per tire. Plus, the foam gives you some added tire puncture protection for working in areas with nails, rebar, etc."
Lifting capacity can also be affected by the attachment you're using. The predominant attachment used is forks. Consequently, in most cases, the machine's height and lift capacities are based on traditional 48-in. forks, which equates to a 24-in. load center.
However, one of the benefits of a telehandler is the wide range of attachments, such as truss booms, swing carriages, general-purpose, concrete or grapple buckets, work platforms and personnel baskets.
Each attachment has a unique load capacity. For example, a traditional 12-ft. truss boom has a 144-in. load center, but may only have a maximum lift capacity rating of 2,000 lbs., notes Kirst. "In this case, in addition to knowing how much the load weighs and how high and how far out you want to lift it, you also have to know the capacity of the machine, the load center of the attachment and the rated capacity of the attachment itself," he points out. "Then you can make a judgment based on the safest practices."
These unique attachments can vary widely in weight, size and location of the load center. "These variables all affect the stability of the machine, and frequently affect the lifting capacity in the various lifting zones," Webber states. "The contractor and operator should always verify that the appropriate load chart for the attachment being used is in the cab and in legible condition prior to lifting. The appropriate load chart must be used when preparing to lift a load."
Load charts are available on many manufacturers' web sites and in operator's manuals. And in most models, they're affixed to the dashboard for easy access. "It's up to the operator to know how much he's carrying, how high he's lifting and how far out he's reaching," says Kirst. "He can then plug those values into the load chart to determine whether or not it's safe. Operators should never attempt to do just a little more."
Ensure the right rental
It is very important that all telehandler operators be properly trained on the machine and the use of its load charts.
"Take the time to understand the unique requirements of each jobsite and ensure that operators are trained to use the load chart supplied with each machine," Boeckman emphasizes. "The salesperson at the dealer can assist the contractor in this process, and ensure you receive a machine that will do the job in a safe and productive manner."
The same recommendations apply when renting a telehandler. "Spend some time working with the equipment/rental salesperson to determine the right piece of equipment for your application," says Boeckman.
To further simplify the rental process, Webber advises contacting the rental center as soon as possible once you understand your application as it relates to maximum weight, height, horizontal reach and the use of any special attachments. "That way, they will have enough time to secure the right telehandler for the application," he says. "If the local rental center doesn't have a telehandler that meets or exceeds your needs, contact other rental centers until you find the right machine. One of the biggest mistakes a contractor can make is pushing a telehandler beyond the manufacturer's intended use instead of purchasing or renting one that is more suited for the application."