New rental telehandlers under the spotlight
By Murray Pollok28 September 2010
Canadian rough terrain forklift and telehandler manufacturer Load Lifter is using its strength in niche markets to weather the recession. Murray Pollok visited the Toronto-based company.
Load Lifter didn't know that recession was coming when it committed itself in 2008 to investing over C$6 million in a new 70000 ft2 production facility close to Uxbridge north west of Toronto.
The plant, which includes separate space for both the Load Lifter manufacturing business and its sister rental company, Stanmore Equipment, has been up and running since last summer, although the need to conserve resources in the current business climate is evident from the unfinished upper floor of the office building.
Hedley Thomas, the now semi-retired Englishman who founded Load Lifter in 1976, tells IRN that he has no regrets about the investment; "The old plant was too small", he says, although he acknowledges that Load Lifter and everybody else "are hurting".
Paul Thomas, the eldest of Hedley's three sons who all work in the family business (David and Donald are his younger brothers), says Load Lifter is drawing strength from the breadth and depth of its customer relationships in a wide range of industries - turf, agriculture, construction, utilities (the company has long links with major Canadian utilities such as Ontario Hydro) and industrial customers. Many of these are in Canada and in particular in the still expanding greater Toronto area, where 8 million people live and work.
"We're still a family business", says Paul, "We have a lot of long term clients. It takes many streams to make a river."
The diversified customer base is reflected too in the range of machines the company has made, with mining units and lighter duty agriculture RT forklifts among the ‘bespoke' units the company has built.
Apart from its long-term customers, Paul Thomas says having the Stanmore rental business next-door has been a help. It gives the company the option of selling used machines to its dealers - machines that can then be replaced by new Load Lifter units. The rental fleet, which includes scaffolding, has actually grown a little this year and now comprises around 140 units, of which approximately three-quarters are Load Lifters.
The slowdown in the market - and the effort required to move to the new location - have had an impact on the company's previously announced plans to develop further its ‘Reach' telehandler products. The 8000 lb (3.6 t) 842 G - the first of the new G series - was launched early in 2009. A second model, a 10000 lb (4.5 t) unit with a boom reach likely to be around 56/57 ft (17 m), has a planned launch in the first quarter of 2010. That's a year behind schedule, says Dave Tughan, Loader Lifter's operations manager, one of several employees with more than 30 years experience with the company.
Mr Tughan says the 842 G has the "best visibility on the market", with the mid boom pivot design giving good, all-round visibility even when travelling with a load, something that he says low-boom European models find difficult to equal.
At the time of IRN's visit in early November there is little sign of a significant upturn in the market, but there is a quiet conviction that Load Lifter will survive the downturn, and certainly no signs of panic. "What we have created we want to keep", says Paul.
And sometimes having a long memory helps keep things in perspective. "1989/90 was the worst recession", says Hedley Thomas, "There was absolutely no credit available."
JCB packs in power
with Miniscopic 515
JCB's new Loadall 515-40 Miniscopic handler is just 1.8 m high but "power to weight it's the strongest telehandler JCB makes", says Rob White, JCB's product marketing manager.
It is the smallest yet Loadall from the company, with a lifting capacity of 1.5 t at full height of over 4 m. With a weight of 3480 kg, it's around 900 kg lighter than JCB's previous smallest Loadall, the 520-40.
In fact, such is its compact size that it will be built not at JCB's main telehandler facility in Rocester along with the other Loadalls, but at the Cheadle plant where JCB makes the smaller Teletruk models and skid steer loaders.
Originally developed as a two-wheel drive, two-wheel steer machine, early customer feedback convinced JCB that a four-wheel drive, four-wheel steel model was what the market required.
Despite the compact dimensions - 1.8 m (H) by 1.56 m (W) by 3.23 m (L) - the 515-40 still has a comfortable cab. JCB says it achieved this by developing a single-spine, off-set chassis in a C-shape which has made it possible to have a full size cab on a compact machine. The patented C-chassis has been successfully tested to 0.5 million cycles.
Operator visibility has been made a priority, with a clear view all round the machine. The cab has a comfortable ergonomic interior with a radio console and optional air conditioning. JCB does not agree with the school of thought that designs ‘rental' machines with very basic cabs; "Rental customers are very discerning and want the most comfort available," says Mr White.
With a 2 m outreach the 515-40 Miniscopic can still lift 1000 kg, so it can easily load or unload a lorry or truck from one side where access is restricted. At its full reach of 2.54 m it can manage 750 kg.
Terex AWP's Genie subsidiary launched two new rotating telehandlers early last year. The GTH-4016 SR and GTH-4018 SR are both described as being ideal for the rental market.
The 4016 SR model has a maximum lifting height of 15.42 m, a maximum lift capacity of 4000 kg and can lift 700 kg at a maximum forward reach of 13.35 m. The 4018 SR, meanwhile, has a maximum height of 17.54 m, maximum lift capacity of 4000 kg and can lift up to 500 kg at its 15.53 m maximum forward reach.
"These high-reach, rough-terrain telehandlers have a rotating turret that can be used to handle the load without having to reposition the entire machine, helping operators save time", says David Gillrie, general manager for the Genie telehandler product range.
"We have engineered every detail on these new models for simple, streamlined maintenance. No matter which model you choose, you will get a robust, rental-friendly machine that's simple to operate and maintain over years of demanding use."
The 4018 SR also comes with a patented "double effect stabiliser system", with articulating outriggers that can provide a wide stable base and also retract inline with the chassis and wheels. The outriggers can be deployed and retracted at the push of a button.
Both models, which are produced in Terex's Perugia facility in Italy, are available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, South America, Asia and Australia.
Genie design priorities
Terex's global general manager for telehandlers, Dave Gillrie, tells IRN that despite the recession, the company continues to invest in new products. "In North America we recently launched the new Genie 10K model and continue to increase our broad North America product line's application by adding new attachment capabilities to all of our products in 2009. We also launched the new Terex 1955 compact model with our construction dealer partners with great success.
"Globally we have launched several new products in China to support the growing demand for our products in that region. In the European markets we have launched our new 16 and 18 m rotator products with the SR version of the 4016 and 4018.
"Moving forward we are focusing on the upcoming Tier 4 engine requirements for our global product line and have several new products that we will be bringing to market in the coming years."
628 to 632
Faresin is creating a 632 model by uprating its existing 2.8 t 628 telehandler from 2.8 to 3.2 t capacity. Production of the 628 ceased at the end of 2009 and was replaced by the 632, which will otherwise be almost identical.
A spokesman for the Italian manufacturer company said new structural analysis tools had allowed the increased rating. The 632 received its first public showing at the Agritechnica exhibition in Hanover, Germany in November.
A 630EU version for the European market will meanwhile be launched at next year's Bauma, with dimensions identical to the 632 but modified to take attachments from a range of competitor manufacturers.
The largest forward reach handlers produced by Manitex Liftking are its three Dynalugger models with capacities of 15000, 20000 and 30000 lbs (6800, 9000 and 13600 kg). The LK150R (pictured here), LK200R and LK300R handlers are built to handle heavy loads in applications including forestry, pole handling and pipe handling. "The Dynaluggers are not a machine", says Manitex, "They are a complete system to fit your handling needs. An easy-to-use, quick-attach mechanism lets your operator disengage the log grapple or forks and attach a wide assortment of carriages and buckets for handling logs, lumber, poles, chips, sawdust and other large bulky material."
German used telehandler specialist Meis Baumaschinen has developed a personnel basket that allows Bobcat 14 m and 17 m telehandlers to be controlled from the cage. Designed by the company's owner and managing director, Jürgan Meis, the operator in the cage can move the machine when the boom is retracted by fully lifted. "The most obvious advantage is that the operator in the working platform no longer has to return the boom to base position in order to move the telehandler to the next operating location", says the company. Outriggers can also be set from the cage. Fitted to a 17 m Bobcat T40170, the platform - which weighs 590 kg - provides a maximum working height of 19.5 and maximum outreach of 13.5 m. The company is considering designing similar platforms for other makes of telehandler.
Dieci is introducing next summer a new higher specification cab to its range of telehandlers. The cab, pictured here at the SAIE exhibition in Bologna, Italy last October, offers better noise insulation, car-style hinged doors, double wall doors, electric windows, a non-reflective black dashboard, overload dials on the dashboard (rather than at the top of the cab as before), and lower level pedals to make it less tiring for operators to use. "It ticks all the boxes", says a spokesperson for the company.