FEATURE: Going strong
By Joe Malone07 December 2016
The telehandler has a strong hold in North America and Europe but is still finding its feet in some others, while a majority of Asian nations have yet to recognise their existence beyond a few trial units in the field.
Therefore, it is a positive step indeed when Manitou opened a new manufacturing facility in Brazil this year. It is located in Vinhedo, in the state of São Paulo, with its inauguration having taken place in August.
The French manufacturer hopes to improve its telehandler market share in Latin America. Marcelo Bracco, LATAM sales manager for Manitou, says the new facility is flexible and can be adapted to different levels of demand. “We are beginning slowly, since that is the pace of our market now. However, we will be prepared for a rapid growth when demand picks up.”
The majority of components will come from national providers and benefit from approval of Brazil’s Finame export/import support from the state-owned bank BNDES. This means Manitou will enjoy favourable credit conditions for buyers of equipment with the Finame seal.
US manufacturer Snorkel, meanwhile, has undergone significant changes in the last three years; from Don Ahern’s majority share purchase in 2013, to the appointment of Matthew Elvin as its new CEO in 2015, and, most recently, the company’s massive investments into its sales and engineering teams alongside new product developments and a new facility.
The company is also working on a new line of Snorkel-branded telehandlers. When Don Ahern purchased the majority share of Snorkel, it seemed only fitting that a telehandler line would eventually come to fruition, given that Ahern’s Xtreme Manufacturing business produces robust telehandlers ranging from compact to mammoth machines.
Snorkel and Xtreme, however, only have one crossover machine; the “baby telehandler,” Mr Elvin says of the 5919, which has 5.8 m of lift height,
3.3 m of forward reach and 2.67 t (5900 pounds) of capacity.
“Parallel to that, we have separate engineering projects from the ground up for telehandlers,” says Mathew Elvin. “We are developing a Snorkel telehandler line to compete against Genie and Skyjack. To be honest, our original wish was to use Xtreme telehandlers as a base, but we’ve decided ground-up engineering is the best approach.”
The company will not produce a full line, but instead will focus on the smaller end of the telehandler spectrum. “If someone wants anything over 12000 pounds,” Elvin notes, “it will then cross over into Xtreme [territory.]”
Another company aiming to take on JLG and Genie is Skyjack and is in the midst of a complete redesign of its North American–style telehandler line.
Skyjack took the opportunity to completely reassess telehandler design while implementing its Tier IV Final engines. Compared with older models, the new TH range offers simpler rear axle stabilisation, hydraulics systems, outriggers, controls, engine servicing, electronics and option packages.
The TH series, launched earlier this year at the World of Concrete and the Rental Show, both in the USA, is aimed purely at the North American market. However, there are international plans in the pipeline across the product lines, including telehandlers.
Interviewed by IRN’s sister magazine Access, Lift & Handlers, the company’s president, Brad Boehler, said; “we’d like to be in that European telehandler space, so we will find a way to get into that whether it’s organically or whether it’s through mergers and acquisitions; some of those things are on the burners.”
Skyjack will look to add a number of models in the next year and more to expand the TH range. These will include a higher capacity model around the 12000 lb level and a small 5k telehandler. While these are important in their own right they also so Skyjack’s commitment to the telehandler market, says the manufacturer.
These new offering will make a vast difference to Skyjack’s presence in the telehandler market. “Past product offering has been technically well received, but struggled to be competitive,” explains Malcolm Early, Skyjack marketing director, “we are confident that the TH series will change that. Customer reception of the products at a number of events toward the end of 2015 was positive, in fact better than we had hoped so we feel growth in the is product class.”
According to Doosan Bobcat EMEA, success in the rental market has been one of the primary factors guiding the design of the company’s latest generation telehandlers, with particular emphasis on engineering for rental applications and residual value for rental companies.
Design for rental applies to all of the models in the latest generation of Bobcat telehandlers with lifting heights from 6-18 m. Lower total cost of ownership features such as hydrostatic transmissions (for ease of operation, lower maintenance costs and simplicity of design) and long maintenance intervals (for lower servicing and parts costs) have been combined with ergonomic and intuitive controls, simplified operator manuals, easy tie down, lifting points and so on for the benefit of rental businesses.
Quentin d’Hérouël, product manager for telescopics at Doosan Bobcat, said, “The Bobcat telehandler range has been renewed completely over the last five years to better take into account the requirements of rental companies, especially on our machines offering lifting heights from 10 to 18 m.
“For example, our new T35130S/SL 13 m and T35140S 14 m telehandlers, both offering a
3.5 tonne maximum lift capacity, have been specifically targeted at the rental industry, with particular attention paid to aspects such as the protection of sensitive parts, and intuitive and safe operating to meet the needs of rental users.”
Genie also offers a full line of telehandlers and has launched new products in 2016. The company debuted its GTH-3007 compact telehandler at Bauma during April, which provides a maximum
lift capacity of 3000 kg, a vertical reach capacity of 2500 kg at a maximum height of 7 m, and a horizontal reach capacity of 1000 kg at 4 m.
Two challenges are facing the telehandler industry, says Anders Mantere, Genie product manager, Terex AWP. The first, emissions regulations, has seen all manufacturers incorporating more involved engine installations with DEF or regen to meet emissions on larger machines. “We have found that we still need to educate our customers and the machine operators about how these new Tier 4 final machines work to ensure a smooth transition and high productivity.”
Jobsite requirements is a second major issue. “We find that certain jobsites are starting to ask for additional features to aid their operators when they reverse,” says Mr Mantere.
Ian Pratt, managing director of JCB Loadall division draws out another challenge. He says that with space becoming the most limiting factor for many new construction projects, machines not only need to be more compact but operators are demanding more control over the machine and load.
For this JCB’s Single lever, servo joystick controls provide precision placement for the operator and partnered with the hydrostatic drive, this means the operator benefits from refined movements of both load and machine.
“Within various industrial applications we are finding that many customers demand machines that can keep up with the nature of a process driven industry. For example, within the waste and recycling sector, telehandlers are integral to ensuring the flow of materials is maintained throughout the process, whether that’s stacking bails, loading or unloading trucks.” JCB’s regenerative hydraulics means performing repeat cycle work quicker than ever.
Heading east, markets outside Europe hold great possibility, however, in the vast continent of Asia telehandlers have generally barely been adopted. “In Asia we have seen contractors migrate from manpower, truck mounted cranes, wheeled loaders, backhoe loaders and skid steers in preference of the telehandler, suggesting that the cost savings of reducing on-site equipment, speeding up the build process and reducing manpower all account for the greater return on investment,” says Mr Pratt.
India and China will also be of significant interest in the coming decade where the current market is small and materials handling is dominated by backhoe loaders and wheeled loaders respectively. “In both regions JCB sees an opportunity, especially in India where we now manufacture a 7m and 11m telehandler. The exciting development for us is that customers are starting to make repeat purchases proving that the concept works.”
Brian Boeckman, JLG Industries’ global product director for telehandlers, is also confident when it comes to Asia; “As construction techniques continue to progress, labour rates continue to rise and the focus on safety continues to grow. Best practices in the mining, agriculture, and construction industries are being shared globally now more than ever which will certainly result in greater adoption of these very versatile machines.”
Difficulties can arise because of the difference in design of North American and European handlers.
“In some markets, where both design styles are present, customers can often be confused on which style best meets their needs, which can present a challenge. In these cases its best to consult your factory representative to guide your product selection,” explains Mr Boeckman.