Heavy duty telehandlers

By Lindsey Anderson13 December 2019

The market for larger telehandlers has been at historic highs for 2018 and 2019; just take a look at manufacturers’ recent financial results and you’ll see incredible sales figures. While some might expect a market softening and stabilization after years of growth, that likely isn’t the case for straight-boom telehandlers with capacities over 12,000 pounds; OEMs report solid demand and potential for the next year.

Because large-capacity telehandlers have become staples in aerial rental fleets, adoption and application of the units is diverse and well-developed, says Josh Taylor, Genie product manager, Terex AWP. “For instance, construction projects of all sizes, residential and commercial, present opportunities for telehandler rentals,” Taylor notes. “Storage operations, industrial plants and other facilities where material must be moved and placed also present opportunities for telehandler rentals. And, energy development sites utilize telehandlers regularly.”

With large scale projects fueling demand, high-capacity telehandlers are providing users with a number of solutions for their jobsites.

“Predominantly, we see our large-capacity telehandlers being deployed in infrastructure projects, and within the oil, gas and mining sectors,” says Matthew Elvin, CEO of Xtreme Manufacturing. “As lifting capabilities of telehandlers increase, we do see telehandlers replacing mobile cranes in some applications, as they deliver the benefit of being able to pick and carry, versus a mobile crane which requires set up prior to each lift in different locations.”

Xtreme, which manufactures a 70,000-pound capacity telehandler, experienced strong demand this year for the over-12,000-pound segment, and Elvin says a number of the company’s machines are shipped to specialty rental, and crane, companies. While a majority of Xtreme large-capacity telehandlers are delivered directly to contractors, generally the units will be required on projects long-term and are in regular use for a wide variety of applications.

“We do see demand through the rental channels for large-capacity telehandlers, but currently this is outweighed by those sold directly to contractors,” Elvin says. “[In general,] demand is steady and we expect it to be similar in the coming months.”

Skyjack, whose largest-capacity telehandler is the 20,000-pound ZB2044, has seen a shift in market acceptance for these units.

“The extra-large capacity telehandlers over 15k in North America have historically been a niche market, however we’ve started to see an increase in demand over the past few years,” says Braden Spence, Skyjack product manager. “That said, the market for over-12,000-pound telehandlers still isn’t anywhere near what we see in the 10k and even 12k capacity classes. We expect the next 18 months to remain steady with what we’ve seen over the past two years – that is: we’ll see a small demand for these products, however we don’t expect to see a spike in demand and they’ll retain their smallest market share for telehandlers in North America.”

With 10k and 12k capacities having a sweet spot in the market, Pettibone capitalized on the trend and introduced its first 12,000-pound units this year: the Extendo 1246X and 1258X and the Traverse T1246X and T1258X. All four models offer a max lift capacity of 12,000 pounds and a max lifting height of 46 or 58 feet. The Traverse models allow the boom to be traversed horizontally along the frame up to 70 inches and allow the operator to land loads without having to coordinate multiple boom functions. All models are equipped with a Cummins QSF3.8 117-hp engine, a Dana 3-speed Powershift transmission and Dana axles.

“Our 46-foot, large-capacity telehandlers are primarily working in pick and place applications and are popular in the oil and gas markets as well as residential jobsites,” says Mitch Fedie, marketing manager, Pettibone. “The 58-foot models can be found working in more urban environments where increased reach is required to land loads at height. These models are also popular on the West Coast where jobsite regulations require telehandlers to land from roads or proved surfaces. This requires a higher lift capacity so they can deliver materials at farther reaches.”

Fedie says along with increasing lift capacities the company is are also seeing new models that offer increasing maximum lift heights.

“Contractors are trying to continually become more productive, so they are trying to move more materials at lower cycle times,” Fedie says. “Increased lift capacity and reach allows them to pick up fewer palatized loads and reduces the amounts that have to be broken up to safely bring them where they are needed on the jobsite.”

Time is money

JLG says productivity on the jobsite is a huge factor with today’s workforce and aids with their decision when choosing the right machine.

“Achieving productivity gains in construction has always been challenging, but the more we can understand what the actual job to be done is, what the actual unmet need is and what the machine is actually doing, the better we can understand how to design and develop machines to be more efficient,” says John Boehme III, senior product manager, JLG. “A lot of companies look at machines and focus on machine specifications. We focus on the job trying to be done and strive to fully understand what challenge is. It’s not about the machine, it’s about the solution that the machine provides to the user.”

JLG’s 1732 and 1644 are the biggest the company offers and are essentially the same with 16,755-pound capacity and 15,656-pound capacity, respectively. The 1732 has a 2-section boom with 31 feet, 8 inches of maximum height, and the 1644 has a 3-section boom with 43 feet, 7 inches of maximum height.

Choosing the right piece of equipment for the job at hand is of utmost importance and adding to that challenge is urbanization.

“Jobsites are getting more confined, and as this continues, machines are required to operate in tighter spaces,” Boehme says. “We focus on providing maximum visibility so that the operator can safely and confidently do their job, so we are developing technologies that assist in maximizing visibility. For example, camera technology, enhanced detection systems and other technology that help provide a higher level of awareness around the machine. As machines continue to get smarter, so does the ability to provide a higher level of awareness.”


Technology is advancing high-capacity telehandlers through the use of load sensing systems, proximity sensors and backup cameras for safer maneuverability though busy jobsites as well as digital displays that give more real-time diagnostics of the machine. Telematics are also continually advancing allowing rental companies and contractors can keep track of their fleets, remotely diagnose issues and easily keep track of scheduled maintenance.

Manitou high-capacity and rotating telehandlers are utilizing attachment recognition technology, for example. The system automatically selects the correct load chart for the machine and attachment combination. Manitou also uses a load management system that reports the weight of the load picked by the machine and notifies the operator of their capacity at that position to keep the operator informed. In addition, Manitou released a three-camera video system for the high-capacity telehandlers with rear view, side view and forward fork view cameras to increase operator visibility around the machine.

Steve Kiskunas, global telehandler product manager for Manitou Group, says, “We continue to see growth in this market segment with greater adoption of these machines for new tasks. In some applications, the high-capacity telehandlers are replacing complicated crane use with RT forklifts. In others, they are moving shipping containers with jobsite materials, and then unloading and placing those items.”

Advancements in technology make work flows smarter and jobsites safer. For instance, CAN-bus controls and LMI systems that can permit higher capacities in certain load ranges to protect the structures and axles from overloading.

“Better sensor technology is permitting lower priced LMI systems that are simple and reliable,” Elvin says. “Although these systems don’t necessarily permit higher loads, they can help prevent overloads that lead to premature failures and subsequently require higher design factors to protect against overloading. By utilizing an LMI system, manufacturers can optimize designs and work to achieve higher load capabilities.”

Skyjack offers its Elevate telematics solution on all of its telehandlers (and MEWPs.) “An increased number of rental fleets are equipping their entire lineup – telehandlers included – with telematics solutions like Elevate,” Spence says. “This remote visibility will be a game changer for fleet managers as they’ll be able to see the health of the engine, CAN-bus faults and machine utilization all from its offices.”


Austin Bailey, national territory manager for Applied Machinery Sales-Merlo says safety is where the company is seeing many advances. One example, he says, is an operator’s access to real-time information.

“With a Merlo telehandler, as soon as the key is turned, the Merlo electronic MERlin Command & Control system activates,” Bailey explains. “It displays on a large, easy-to-see LCD, all the operating parameters of the machine. It reports, in real time, how the machine is responding to its environment, its load, and its load placement.”

Merlo’s newest high-capacity unit is the P72.10 with a maximum load capacity of 15,000 pounds. The company’s largest telehandler is the P120.10 with a lifting capacity of 25,000 pounds.

Similar to Merlo units, Magni telehandlers offer a wealth of information via LCD screen on their heavy-duty telehandlers.

The company introduced an XL Touch Screen which is a 10-inch touch display. It will provide an enhanced view of the load charts (LMI) and all other functionality. In addition, the software used to make updates is faster and easier to use.

“The whole idea of utilizing equipment to perform work is to be more efficient and increase profits,” says Gary Weisman, vice president at Magni America LLC. “The idea that with a Magni contractors are more profitable than they ever thought they could be is validated every day by our customers.”

Weisman says Magni continues to invest in product innovation and enhancements. The company is also looking at the feasibility of engineering new models with expanded capacities.


Genie says telematics is the largest trend they are experiencing within the telehandler market.

“Telematics allows the fleet owner to see real-time data about the machine while it is on a jobsite,” says Taylor. “This improves the owners’ ability to track service and maintenance needs, optimize delivery and pickup routes and generally become more efficient in a way that was not possible before.”

Genie says many large rental companies have already taken advantage of this technology, and adoption is becoming more widespread among independents and smaller rental houses.

“Today’s telematics can offer significant competitive advantages to rental companies, including cost savings on parts and labor and reduce costs on maintenance and service charges, all of which result in increased rental return on invested capital (rROIC),” Taylor notes. “One of the greatest benefits that Genie can offer rental customers through its telematics technology — the Genie Lift Connect solution — is that the data gained from the equipment becomes extremely valuable when it is transformed into actionable information.

“We developed the Genie Lift Connect telematics program to enable rental companies to do dive deeper into machine reporting data to get a more complete picture of the fleet’s health, its operating status in the field and when maintenance is required. Genie Lift Connect telematics offers the ability to focus on actionable information with: Access to dashboards and reporting to quickly identify what should be worked on first; Easily view entire fleet on one screen; Quickly identify alerts and their priority; See what is due for maintenance at a glance; Set geo-zones and related alerts to better track usage and; Near real-time reporting, including on machine status, faults and utilization.”

JLG’s Boehme also says that technology is a ‘megatrend’ that the company monitors diligently.

“IoT is changing how we develop equipment and how the equipment interacts with each other, operators and technicians but it is really changing the market,” Boehme says. “For operators and owners, equipment is becoming more connected and smarter, which can do many things for rental companies.

“It can help improve productivity, maintenance, serviceability, uptime and it can help them better manage their fleets. Connectivity can help improve training and help with efficiencies such as machine placement from construction project planning to completion. Will this machine fit in the necessary space? Will it provide the height, lift and capacity needed for ideal performance in my jobsite application? Jobsites are moving to gain productivity. Planning improves when machines are connected and when more data is available, not just for OEMs but also to fleet managers and jobsites planners.”

JLG also keeps operators at the forefront with its SmartLoad technology.

“Regarding operator confidence and keeping the operator safe, it’s also important to keep the machine and the asset safe,” Boehme notes. “It is also just as important to keep the workers in the jobsite area safe. JLG introduced SmartLoad technology which helps protect the operator and give the fleet owner, fleet manager and machine owners confidence that this system will not allow the operator to violate the boundaries of a load chart. The SmartLoad system helps minimize machine damage by avoiding the negative consequences of overloading.”

With technology, attachments and jobsites dictating machine size, the large-capacity telehandler market should remain solid for the coming year. Many companies will have new products at World of Concrete, The ARA Show and ConExpo, so make sure to check out our guides in the next issue.

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