Carrying pallets of building materials and supplies. Relocating barriers around highway projects. Lifting and placing insulation, plywood and shingles onto roofs.
Moving trees around a nursery. Drilling holes to construct fencing on a farm.
This is just a short list of what today's telehandlers are doing on jobsites in construction, masonry, agriculture, landscaping and nursery applications. They can also be found assisting with highway work, such as bridge and overpass construction or repair, and industrial or steel building construction. What's the secret to their versatility?
With many attachments to choose from-including pallet forks, buckets, drywall carriages, scrap grapple buckets, angle brooms, augers, truss booms and more-it's not uncommon to find telehandlers tackling a variety of functions that were previously performed by other machines.
Additionally, some makes of telehandlers feature hydraulic quick couplers for fast attachment changes and others are capable of powering skid-steer attachments directly or via a universal adaptor, further enhancing telehandler productivity and efficiency.
Another feature-their steering capability-adds to their versatility. "When the crab, two-and four-wheel steering capability of today's telehandlers meet with attachment options such as tilt and swing carriages, for instance, operators can effortlessly maneuver through tight, confined areas and still pick and place materials through windows or door openings," says Mike Saad, commercial marketing manager with Ingersoll-Rand.
Evolving into a "power unit
The challenge for rental businesses is to overcome their customers' mind sets that telehandlers are just lift-and-place machines, says Eric Brown, telescopic tool carrier product specialist with Bobcat.
"Telehandlers can do so much more, he explains".As a matter of fact, the number one attachment for Bobcat VersaHandlers in the rental industry is the auger. When most people think of telehandlers, however, the obvious attachment that comes to mind is forks because they think of telehandlers as lift machines.
"Telehandlers are the first machines on a jobsite and the last ones to leave, Brown continues". Sure, they can lift and carry, but you can also put on an auger to set footings or an angle broom for clean-up.
Brown notes that today's telehandlers are evolving into a power unit, much like a skid steer, that is designed to do many things instead of one specific task. One feature that is helping the evolution is the hydraulic quick coupler. The hydraulic quick coupler allows for easy hook-up and disconnect of attachments. Using this system, operators can hook-up non-hydraulic attachments without leaving the cab, similar to how many skid-steer loader quick couplers work.
Some telehandlers are even capable of sharing attachments with skid-steer loaders. Bobcat, for example, offers an adapter frame that allows its telehandlers to share "non-load lifting attachments with its skid-steer line.
"The adaptor frame is still in its infancy," says Brown. But it will open up a wide range of attachments for telehandlers. They'll be able to share attachments across the board with skid steers and even compact excavators. This will help keep versatility high. It will also make the telehandler a viable alternative to skid steers on a jobsite.
With this in mind, telehandlers are tackling jobs that other machines used to perform on jobsites. "Many contractors, for example, see the telehandler on the jobsite and figure, since it's already here, we might as well use it to clean-up or do other tasks," says Brown.
Some say telehandlers are becoming irreplaceable on jobsites. "It's hard to imagine a construction project without a telehandler on the job, says Mark Eckert, telehandler product champion at JLG Industries, which manufactures Lull, SkyTrak, JLG and Gradall brand telehandlers." Their versatility and utility are proving that they're becoming the foremost machine on projects.