Powershift: Tier 4i/Stage IIIB telehandlers under the spotlight

By Murray Pollok05 October 2012

A Haulotte HTL4014 telehandler owned by Brazilian rental company Solaris.

A Haulotte HTL4014 telehandler owned by Brazilian rental company Solaris.

New Tier 4i/Stage IIIB models plus a rush of compact machines have made this a good year for new telehandlers. Murray Pollok reports.

If there is a dominant theme in the telehandler market just now it is hard to identify, so diverse are the new machines and technologies that telehandler manufacturers are working on.

Tier 4i and Stage IIIB engine regulations in North America and Europe are obviously a key driver of research and development, and provide an obvious opportunity to update machines at the same time. But equally so, manufacturers have been adding both big and small machines to their ranges, while others introduce technology as different as fuel-efficient engine cut-off systems and auto attachment-recognition devices.

The first thing to say is that after several years of low sales these new machines and technologies actually mean something again, because rental buyers are spending, even if there is still a cautious approach to investment in Europe.

Scott Krieger, product manager for telehandlers at Terex AWP, tells IRN that increased demand for its handlers is across the board, reflecting re-fleeting activity by rental customers. He reports solid demand in North America for the 8000 lb and 10000 lb sized models, with the smaller 6000 lb sector still a bit slack because of the flat housing market in the US.

Emerging trends, he says, include more interest in larger 12000 lb capacity machines – offering a little more flexibility and versatility than the 10000 lb sized handlers – and also “significant growth” in the smallest 5500 lb GTH5519 model, a compact handler. “People are just becoming familiar with the 5519” he says, “Its size and versatility.”

There has been the same increased interest in handlers in Europe, although to a lesser degree than the US. Paco Pérez Salinas, commercial director of Spain’s Ausa, says, “Loxam and the big players, they are being prudent, but at the same time they are purchasing. Not hundreds of machines, but they are buying small numbers.”

And Ausa, like other manufacturers, are benefitting from more activity in markets outside Europe and North America, like Australia, where Ausa’s sales doubled in the first seven months of this year.

Thibault Mouillefarine, director of marketing and customer service at Haulotte, which has been manufacturing and selling telehandlers since 2007, tells IRN that its rental customers in Europe are reporting good levels of demand and utilisation for their handlers, it is just that they are unwilling to invest heavily until the wider economic picture becomes clearer.

In terms of new products, Terex AWP has been working on its Genie telehandlers in both Europe and North America. In Europe, the company showed at Intermat replacements for the 4 t class GTH-4013 and GTH-4017 models - the new 14 m GTH-4014 and 18 m 4018 models – as well as a new 21 m rotating model, the GTH-5021-R.

These incorporate new Stage IIIB Perkins engines, and Gert De Boon, Terex AWP’s telehandler product manager for Europe, tells IRN that important changes on the fixed boom machines include more commonality on components – including axles – as well as better protection of components, such as steel protected front and rear lights and stronger mudguards. The engine cover is now lower, giving the operator improved visibility, but without impacting on the ground clearance.

The rotating GTH-5021-R will take over from the existing 50-22 model as Stage IIIB regulations take force. Improvements here include easier maintenance, with the valve block now below the cab and very easy to access. Like the new fixed boom models, the 5021 has a higher specification cab than before.

In North America, the focus has been on the redesigned Genie GTH-844 – first seen in near-production format at the Rental Show at the start of this year and now ready for an October/November production.

The 844 has a maximum lift height of 13.4 m (44 ft) and a gross lifting capacity of 3628 kg (8000 lb). Redesigned from top to bottom, key changes include the use of a Deutz or Perkins Tier 4i engine, a switch in engine position from centre-rear mount to right-side mount, and a narrowed width to 2.43 m (96 in).

If Terex is using the new engine regulations as an opportunity to update some of its key models, UK manufacturer JCB has been launching entirely new Loadall machines.

One of these, the new 550-80, offers an 8.1m lift height with a 5.0 t lift capacity, the biggest capacity Loadall ever. The 550-80 isn’t perhaps a rental machine – it is designed mainly for bulk handling and heavy duty operations – but another new JCB machine, the 540-200, certainly is. With a five section boom (for the first time on a JCB machine), the 4 t capacity handler provides a maximum reach of 20 m, which is 3 m more than the next largest JCB handler.

The boom has been specifically designed for the construction market, using lighter, higher grade material to improve capacity at full reach. The boom is driven by an internal extension ram and chain system, providing proportional boom extension. JCB says this means that boom extension markers are only needed on the first intermediate boom, making the machine easier to use.

As with other suppliers, JCB is switching to Stage IIIB/Tier 4i engines for its telehandlers, although with the benefit of being able to use its own engines. The company’s new JCB Ecomax engine, which meets the emissions regulations without the need for diesel particulate filters (DPFs) or exhaust after treatment fluids, are now available on a wide range of Loadalls. The 55 kW Ecomax is standard on the 531-70, 541-70, 535-95, 533-105, 535V-125, 535V-140 and the 540-140 machines; the bigger 81 kW engine is used on the 531-70, 541-70WM and 540-170 models; and the largest 93 kW Ecomax will be found on the 550-80WM and 550-80 models.

For haulotte, the move into telehandlers in 2007 was always about offering its core rental customers a wider range of products. Thibault Mouillefarine tells IRN that Haulotte has no intentions of becoming a full-line telehandler supplier, and will not, for example, be developing a range of North American style handlers. Instead, in markets where North America machines are preferred – including some Latin American countries – they will seek out buyers who want to more highly engineered European product. Solaris in Brazil, for example, has bought Haulotte handlers.

Haulotte has recently created a telehandler business unit and centralised all its manufacturing and R&D activities at the L’Horme plant in France, and this is where Haulotte will build all its handlers in the future.

The company’s range comprises seven models in the 10 m, 14 m and 17 m sizes and an obvious question is what other sizes are being planned? Mr Mouillefarine says that smaller handlers – 6 m and 9 m models, under 3 t capacity – as well as some larger models are likely to be developed, with the first launches by the end of 2013.

“We have been talking to customers to find out exactly what they want”, he says, “We will not develop products just to have products.” He says that alliances with other telehandler manufacturers could be a way of plugging some of these gaps, but that the first new models will most likely be Haulotte developed machines.

Also coming soon will be updated versions of its 14 m and 17 m models, with smoother, more precise controls and improved machine diagnostics. These models will be relaunched at Bauma next April. The changes are being made as the manufacturer switches to Stage IIIB/Tier 4i engines. Updates to the 10 m models are also on the cards.

Haulotte is marketing its telehandlers in developing markets, and is making choices about its priority markets. For example it will try to market the handlers in India, but will not be targeting China, which Mr Mouillefarine says has become a very competitive telehandler market.

Meanwhile, the focus at JLG Industries, Dieci and New Holland Construction has been on smaller, compact models.

JLG used Intermat earlier this year two highlight its new Stage IIIB compliant Powershift models, the 3706 and 3707 – both 3.7 t capacity machines with 6.1 m and 7.3 m maximum reaches – and the 4 t class 4014 and 4017, with 14 m and 17.3 m reaches, respectively.

All four have four-speed Powershift transmissions and use 75 kW Deutz engines, although the smaller 3706 and 3707 machines can be fitted with larger 90 kW engines.

Targeted at rental customers as well as end users, the machines have features designed to make them robust: for example, the outer section of the boom is reinforced with double plated steel and the boom head is thickened.

Another new compact machine comes from Dieci. The new Apollo 25.6 has a maximum lift capacity of 2.5 t and maximum lifting height of 5.78 m. Weighing 4.8 t, it is 1.95 m high and 1.8 m wide, and power comes from a Yanmar 50.7 or 62.5 kW engine.

Dieci says it has worked hard to make the cab a comfortable place to work. Among the features are a joystick integrated into the armrest, a height and tilt adjustable steering wheel, air conditioning, stereo system, sunroof and a raised, high visibility driver's seat.

New Holland Construction has also entered this compact class, and has done so through an agreement with Dieci, which is producing a version of the Apollo 25.6 that New Holland calls the LM625. Like its source machine, it has a 2.5 t capacity, 5.8 m lift height machine, and measures less than 2 m high and 1.8 m wide.

New Holland says the 625’s 3.4 m turning radius means it can work in the tightest spaces, while a new hydrostatic transmission provides smooth control. The manufacturer says the auto-locking front differential axle “delivers exceptional pushing power”.

Meanwhile others major telehandler manufacturers, like Italy’s Merlo, are waiting for bauma next year for their new launches. Merlo has, however, been developing new technology for its handlers – see the caption story on these pages.

Also looking at technology is Manitou, which recently showcased its new Stop & Go feature designed to cut-off the engine during idling and which will produce up to 5% and reduce typical engine operating hours by a third.

Developed with Poclain Hydraulics, the system will launched on the MT 14 and MT 18 handlers in the first half of 2013, with the MRT models to follow. (See our report on Manitou’s ‘Festival’ event in the July-August issue of IRN).

Bobcat has meanwhile introduced a high power version of its 7 m TL470 telehandler that was introduced last year. The new TL470HF – designed for demanding applications in both construction and agriculture - is powered by a 97.5 kW Perkins 1104D-E44TA diesel engine rather than the 74.5 kW Perkins unit used on the standard model.

The main impact of the bigger engine is increased torque and faster cycle times. Maximum torque increases from 410 Nm to 516 Nm, while cycle times are around 30% faster. The use of a new load sensing pump rather than the gear pump on the standard model increases hydraulic flow from 100 l/min to 190 l/min, helping boost cycle times at lower engine speeds.

In other respects the TL470HF offers the same specifications as its standard version, with a maximum lift capacity of 3.5 t and a maximum lift height of 7.0 m. The capacity at full lift height is 3.0 t, while the maximum forward reach is 4.0 m, at which point lifting capacity is 1500 kg.

Like the other new TL models, the TL470HF is designed to handle demanding jobs in both construction and agricultural applications.

Spain’s Ausa, having just completed its full range of compact handlers with the launch of the T 235 (see our May-June issue), is now looking at additional features and options on its current range.

A good example is a special version of its T 144H model offering much higher hydraulic flow than the standard model, increased from the standard 18 l/s at 240 bar up to 40 l/m at 200 bar. The aim is to make the handler capable of using a wider range of attachments to compete head on with skid steer loaders.

Ausa has accomplished this by adding a double gear pump, with a flow divider directing the required flow to the boom. A skid steer loader style hydraulic quick hitch is also included in the new configuration.

Available from September this year, the system has been in demand in particular from customers in Russia who want to use snow clearing and sweeping attachments.

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