Versatile telehandlers - designed for rental

18 June 2008

UK rental company Hewden has a number of TH series telehandlers from Caterpillar. The low emission e

UK rental company Hewden has a number of TH series telehandlers from Caterpillar. The low emission engine is in tune with the company’s “Green” policy

The versatility of telehandlers makes them a popular choice for hire companies. We look at the developments that are making these machines even more attractive to the rental market.

Some companies such as JLG, Genie and Manitou have manufactured both access equipment and telehandlers for some years but increasingly other suppliers are bringing the two ranges together. Haulotte has started to manufacture its own range while Merlo is developing a range of access platforms to complement its comprehensive range of telehandlers. Others have opted to acquire a telehandler range - or two in the case of Skyjack.

Skyjack has recently finalised the deal to buy Volvo's material handling equipment business, an acquisition which complements Skyjack's ZoomBoom telehandlers acquired in August 2007with the purchase of Carelift. There are four models in the Volvo range with 2727 kg (6000 lb), 3636 (8000lb), and two with 4545 (10000 lb) capacities.

Skyjack told AI at the ConExpo show in Las Vegas in March that it would market the Volvo telehandlers under the Skyjack brand and livery and continue to sell the Carelift product under the ZoomBoom name.

Skyjack's president, Ken McDougall said that increasingly customers, and particularly rental operations, want to source machines from fewer suppliers. By increasing the variety of equipment, in a related area, that the company can offer puts Skyjack in a better position to serve its customers.

On paper it's clear what access platforms and telehandlers have in common, its all about accurately positioning resources, be that personnel, materials or equipment but, with a wide range of attachments available with most telehandlers could the telehandler be the perfect rental machine?

Haulotte has come to the telehandler market with years of experience designing and manufacturing aerial platforms, "The new HTL telescopic handlers integrate every technological innovation developed in the field of aerial work platforms," says the company. Haulotte is using this transfer of technology to create machines that are both comfortable and safe.

By conferring with rental companies -both Haulotte owned and independent - Haulotte has designed (Haulotte Top Lift) HTL 4014 and HTL 4017 to particularly meet the requirements of this market. The HTL 4014 and HTL 4017 have maximum lifting heights of 14 m and 17 m respectively and can lift loads up to 4 tons (9000 lb). These machine sizes are the most widely used but Haulotte has indicated that the range will be expanded with the next machine likely to be a compact model.

Recognising that the operator may not be a full-time telehandler driver the HTL machines assist the operator with a number of visual and audible indicators. The "travel" and "worksite" modes make manoeuvring safer by avoiding confusion such as lowering the stabilisers while in motion. Overloading, stability and reversing are also covered by control indicators which allow the operator to focus on the job.

Haulotte has employed hydrostatic transmission; power assisted steering and an ergonomic joystick to help the operator get the most out the HTLs' four-wheel drive. The load sensing-flow sharing hydraulic system is designed to deliver flexibility and power in all movements. Proportional movement of the telescopic extension, excavation and raising the arm together with the slow approach pedal are included to make the machine easier to operate.

JLG's Accuplace with Ride Control currently only available on its G10-55A and G12-55A machines in North America was launched late last year and in direct response to helping the occasional telehandler user.

Accuplace with Ride Control is an optional system which automatically holds the telehandler forks in a ‘square' attitude and helps give the load a smooth ride. The description ‘square' refers to the forks remaining parallel to the ground irrespective of the arc and extension described by the boom. Ride control is a suspension system for the boom allowing faster travel across rough terrain.

The new system is designed into the telehandlers and includes a distributed hydraulics system and robust sensors and electronics which help make servicing the equipment easier.

A number of the developments from telehandler manufacturers include simple operation, ease of servicing and condition monitoring: useful features for rental companies

When JCB launched its new Loadall 535-125 HiViz and 535-140 HiViz models earlier this year - both with 3.5 tonnes capacity and 12.3 m reach and 13.8 m reach respectively - they were also designed for ease of use along with all-round visibility. New axels improved the machines' turning radius by 250mm. The 535-125 and 535-140 HiViz are among the first of JCB's models to incorporate a new dashboard and control layout that features easy to read instrumentation that groups all the separate analogue dials into a single display unit. It includes an LCD display which at the touch of a button, allows the operator to see the time to the next service and the trip distance.

The new instrumentation panel also incorporates warning lights, including one which alerts the operator when the stabiliser legs are down. These lights were previously positioned away from the main instrument cluster and their new location results in the operator only having to look in one place for machine operation information.

Caterpillar's new TH406 (see box) TH407 and TH414 has also worked on the ergonomics of the cab and controls to make its machines easy to operate. The new cab is spacious and comfortable with good all-round visibility, and features a new heating and ventilation system with optional air conditioning. The single lever joystick with roller switches is easy to use and all controls, including auxiliary hydraulics are fully proportional.

An in-cab LCD displays a wide range of information, including machine speed; operating hours, fuel level, and coolant temperature and error messages. The keypad can be used to select various operating modes, including three different steering modes.

A stability indicator provides a constant and progressive check on load safety with a cut out should the recommended load be exceeded.

The Cat TH406 has a load capacity of 3700 kg, a lift height of 6.1 m. The TH407 and TH414 have the same load capacity with load heights of 7.3 m and 13.7 m respectively. The standard 74.5 kW (100hp) Cat 4.4 turbo charged engine and the optional 93.1 kW (125 hp) Cat 4.4 engine (available on the TH406 and TH407 only) are both certified to Stage IIIA (Tier III) emission regulations.

The Manitou Privilege range was launched in the latter half of last year. The three model range: MT1436, MT1440 and MT1840 is available in a specially designed R (Rental version). Lift heights are 13.5 m, 15.4 m and 17.5 m and capacity is 1.2 tonnes at maximum reach. The R version is very easy to operate and maintain and has an easy wash down cab.

Telehandlers are traditionally used in house building and areas of restricted access, Rotos, originally developed by Italian manufacturer Merlo can make optimum use of the available space. Peter Grant from Merlo's UK marketing office says that until recently Roto had been seen very much as a specialised field with associated low numbers but now the Roto is responsible for an increasing number of sales (around 20%).

Merlo's latest offereing is the P55.CS for heavy duty handling. It has a new chassis and boom configuration, heavy duty axels and a 140HP engine. The heavy duty cycles mean tough work so the driver is in a fully suspended cab to reduce fatigue.

The whole cab module is supported by two articulated arms and rests upon normal cab mounts when the CS mechanism is deactivated. Switch it on and a hydraulic cylinder raises the cab 60mm. Merlo are planning to extend cab suspension to a number of other models latter this year.

Recent developments and launches in the telehandler market clearly demonstrate that manufacturers are implementing designs to meet the requirements of rental companies and their customers. But how does the telehandler stand up as a versatile tool? There are plenty of attachments which manufacturers claim can be changed in a matter of minutes but general consensus in the market is that the majority of users hire the telehandler with the attachment it requires and no other.

What advantages can be gained from using a telehandler as an access platform rather than dedicated equipment? A telehandler can accommodate a large platform with a high load capacity and, unlike a scissor lift, it can reach over obstacles.

Bobcat has extended its range of attachments for the company's telehandlers with a man platform approved for use on the three largest models in the range the 12 m T35120SL MP, the 14 m T40140 and the 17 m T40170.

The platform has a capacity of 500kg and is capable of holding up to three people at one time. The steel platform can be expanded from a starting width of 2.4 m to its full 4m width in seconds. The platform is operated by remote control mounted on the platform and can rotate through 900 right and left.

Telehandlers are firstly loading machines, but as their technology develops and they become easier to maintain and use, the machines may find uses outside their traditional house building and agricultural markets.

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