Posted August 30, 2018

Industry Outlook -- Telescopic handlers

Below 74-horsepower units prove popular and profitable.

By Clair Urbain

Telescopic handlers, or telehandlers, are the darlings of the rental center world. Few pieces of equipment offer such a rate of return. Contractors tend to rent them for longer periods of time and they help open the door for other equipment rentals.

Telehandler experts share their insight into the exciting category and what rental centers can continue to expect.

Austin Bailey, Applied Machinery national territory manager
Austin Bailey, Applied Machinery national territory manager

Users want simplicity
The compact telehandler models are popular across all industries because they are easy to use and versatile. They are popular in agricultural and construction-related applications. 

Merlo offers the P27.6 with a 20-foot reach and 75 horsepower engine. The compact models are basic telehandlers without the computer modules found on heavy-duty models. The P27.6 has a single-speed transmission and a seat switch that disengages the transmission to prevent machine movement without an operator in the seat. Other safety features: audible alarms and a boom lock-out that helps prevent tipping if overloaded.

Rental houses and end users appreciate these features as they significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents on job sites. The boom lockout system and alarms associated with it also do not require any operator intervention for them to function properly, which adds a convenience factor.

Merlo compact telehandlers are simple to operate, so a rental center can position this compact telehandler as a good fit for any customer. Roofing contractors can use them to safely lift and place personnel and roofing materials. With accessories, a landscaper can use forks to carry pallets of plants and material, attach a bucket to move gravel and topsoil, and use a man-basket for pruning and picking. Swapping accessories is very easy to do because it all can be done from the cab.

Jason Boerger, Bobcat Company marketing manager
Jason Boerger, Bobcat Company marketing manager

Telehandlers provide versatility
Telehandlers continue to be a smart choice for rental companies because of their versatility, exceptional reach and lift capacity. Compact models provide renters with more flexibility when working in tight spaces. 

Using attachments with telehandlers is a growing trend that provides the versatility so many customers need. These machines provide countless options for rental customers. 

Telehandlers continue to improve. Bobcat Company has added many features to the V723 model including an Eco mode that optimizes engine performance for less fuel consumption. This is attractive to rental houses and their customers because a more fuel-efficient machine can save money on the job site. 

Bobcat telescopic handler in action
Telescopic handlers continue to improve with new technological advances. Bobcat Company has many new features it has added to the V723 model including an Eco mode that saves on fuel costs.

Other new options include ride control that reduces material spillage so operators can travel faster and offers a smoother ride when traveling across uneven terrain. 

Intuitive control options, such as an operator-friendly joysticks that control the boom height and extension, travel direction and carriage-tilt function on attachments are popular. With a touch of a button on the control panel, operators can adjust auxiliary hydraulic flow for top attachment performance. Having those functions on the joystick allows users to focus and streamline their jobs.

Attachment options are a great way for rental houses to leverage their telehandler utilization. Telehandlers can be paired with a wide range of attachments, from augers and mowers to grapples and pallet forks. Having multiple attachments available may keep the machine on rent for longer periods of time. 

Josh Taylor, Terex AWP/Genie product manager

Josh Taylor, Terex AWP/Genie product manager

Telehandlers: High ROI units
Compact telehandlers, especially the greater than 5,500-pound capacity class, are often referred to as the Swiss army knife on job sites because they provide excellent utilization and high ROI in most rental fleets.  

The market is trending to lower-horsepower engines. The horsepower rating to watch is 74 horsepower, which is the cutoff for diesel engines to need some type of aftertreatment system. Genie led the way in this category in 2016 with the launch of the Genie GTH-844 telehandler, where engineers paired a 74-horsepower engine with a custom-geared drivetrain to provide a significant increase in value without sacrificing performance. This innovative strategy has been adopted industry-wide since the Genie model was launched. 

Genie GTH 844 model
Overall, the market is trending to lower-horsepower engines. The horsepower rating to watch is 74 horsepower, which is the cutoff for diesel engines need some type of aftertreatment system. Genie led the way in this category in 2016 with the launch of the 74-horsepower Genie GTH-844 telehandler. 

New powertrain designs are actually decreasing the complexity of machine operation. Another trend is improving the control system with an intuitive electronic joystick that gives the operator full control of all lifting functions simultaneously.

Increasingly, telematics is being used by rental centers to obtain real-time data about the machine while it is on the site, which helps track service and maintenance needs, optimize delivery and pickup routes and improve efficiency. 

Telehandlers have a good ROI, typically between 2.5 and 3 percent.  However, maintenance is not factored into that calculation. It’s better to use total cost of ownership, which takes into account the cost of scheduled and unplanned maintenance. 

To help rental centers. Genie focuses on all aspects of rental ROI. Genie engineers build its machines with durable components to maximize uptime as well as offer superior service access so technicians can perform maintenance more quickly. Plus, Genie has excellent product-support in the field to assist customers with technical issues. Finally, Genie logistics experts strive for world-class performance in service parts fulfillment.  

Rebecca Yates, JCB telehandler product manager
Rebecca Yates, JCB North America telehandler product manager

No aftertreatment units popular
Industry watchers at JCB are seeing strong and growing demand for telehandlers that require no exhaust aftertreatment and offer reduced operating costs. No-aftertreatment machines allow customers to be more productive by reducing daily checks and eliminating regeneration cycles. 

JCB offers several no-aftertreatment machines including the new 74-horsepower 512-56 Loadall telehandler, which is the world’s first and only 12,000-pound telehandler that requires no DPF or DEF.

Telematics systems are gaining greater acceptance, particularly with rental and fleet owners. Telematics can remotely access information about the status, health and location of each machine. With curfew and geofence alerts, it helps to protect against unauthorized use or theft.

JCB telescopic handler
JCB offers several no-aftertreatment machines including the new 74-horsepower 512-56 Loadall telehandler, which is the world’s first and only 12,000-pound telehandler that requires no DPF or DEF.

The ROI for any equipment is largely determined by the total cost of ownership (TCO), which considers preventive maintenance, fluid and fuel, replacement parts costs and capital expenses including depreciation over the machine’s life. The extent to which these costs can be reduced or eliminated affect the machine’s ROI and, ultimately, business profitability. 

JCB is the only company to offer a 12,000-pound telehandler with no aftertreatment requirement. The JCB 512-56 74-horsepower Loadall eliminates the cost and complication of aftertreatment systems. JCB also offers several other no-aftertreatment models ranging from 5,000- to 10,000-pound lift capacity.

Rental demand for all size classes of telescopic handlers is at record highs. This is driven by growth in sectors that have long been users of telehandler capabilities, such as large-scale construction and by new or emerging applications, such as smaller residential builders who are realizing the productivity benefits of using a telehandler.  

The entertainment sector is a growing source of telehandler demand at outdoor events and festivals. The energy sector is expanding telehandler use to move material and equipment. 


John Boehme, JLG Industries Inc. senior product manager, telehandlers

Telehandlers first to come, last to leave job sites
As construction projects across many markets and applications are on the rise, there is a growing need for telehandlers. They typically are the first machine on the job site and last to leave. 

One of the fastest growing telehandler segments is the super-compact class under 5,974-pound lift capacity. 

We continue to see more focus on operator confidence, comfort and machine versatility. Based on this, JLG now offers a spacious cab, a reverse-sensing system and reverse camera. For example, the JLG 1644 and 1732 telehandlers are the first models in North America with optional SmartLoad Technology, a bundle of three integrated technologies that work together to deliver a greater level of operator

confidence. The SmartLoad Technology recognizes the attachment and displays the appropriate load chart. The Load Management Information System (LMIS) graphically indicates where the load is in the lifting envelope and the Load Stability Indicator (LSI) works with the LMIS to limit operation when a load gets near the maximum capacity shown on the load chart. This three-part system lets operators work with more confidence and helps protect the machine from overloading.

Most JLG telehandlers are now equipped with a precision gravity-lowering system that relies on hydraulic power to raise the boom, but uses gravity to lower it for precise control. 

The market continues to be focused on return on investment (ROI) and the total cost of the product over its lifetime. Rental company owners and owner/operators are paying more attention to the versatility of each piece of equipment, the productivity gains the telehandler can provide and the costs after the sale.

Steve Kiskunas, Manitou Group product manager, telehandlers

Steve Kiskunas, Manitou Group product manager, telehandlers

74-horsepower engines liked by rental centers
The telehandler market continues with strong growth and the rental segment continues to be a very strong contributor to this growth. With high utilization across many applications, telehanders are popular with rental centers, providing a solid return on investment and visibility on job sites. 

With the relatively recent emission requirement changes, manufacturers are now offering lower horsepower models that are ideal for typical rental customers. This year, Gehl introduced four telehandlers: The RS6-42, RS8-42, RS8-44 and RS10-55 Mark74. 

MAnitou Mark74 telehandler

The Manitou Mark74 telehandler.

The 74-horsepower models provide an opportunity for rental centers to capitalize on the lower maintenance costs and gain higher returns from the units’ diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC)-only exhaust treatment system.  These engines eliminate the need for regeneration and aftertreatment fluid and offer longer service intervals. They require fewer expensive oil changes, which reduces the cost of operation. 

With a lower horsepower engine, manufacturers are challenged to engineer a machine that still achieves an efficient rate of work. For the 74-horsepower models, Manitou engineers optimized the driveline to achieve the greatest efficiency and performance. While the 74-horsepower telehandler models are ideal for many applications, Manitou will continue to offer its full line of higher horsepower units for high torque/speed/capacity applications.

Telehandlers as a whole provide a high return on investment to rental centers. They typically provide the highest ROI in any rental fleet due to high utilization rates. Small contractors, instead of buying a telehandler, are renting them, often for weeks or months at a time. 

When a rental center looks at ROI, they are using the initial acquisition cost, equipment utilization rate, maintenance costs and average rental revenue to calculate their return. There is little opportunity to influence acquisition cost, so many rental companies look at ways to reduce maintenance costs and increase utilization by renting equipment out for longer periods and reducing equipment downtime.

Telematics can help reduce equipment maintenance costs. Rental centers, dealers, service providers and end-users have 24/7 access to valuable machine data in real-time. The Gehl Mark74 telehandlers are available with an Easy Manager telematics system that can simplify machine management and maintenance. Machine owners have instant access to detailed data, including recent activity, location mapping, error codes, CAN data and service alerts. It allows rental centers and machine owners to be more proactive and efficient with maintenance while also providing better security through geofencing and access keypads. 

Owners can maximize profits from telehandlers equipped with telematics systems by improving efficiencies in service and increasing resale values. In the future, rental centers and users can expect to see telematics systems that are further enhanced with access to engine error codes, fuel and DEF fluid levels, hydraulic systems and engine performance.

Bob Mayo, Pettibone product manager
Bob Mayo, Pettibone product manager

Traversing carriage extends reach
Engineers are continually looking for ways to do more with less horsepower and avoid the complexities of using exhaust technologies for Tier 4 compliance. There are trade-offs with lower horsepower engines; choosing the correct drivetrain combination allows the machine’s performance better match job site needs.

New and enhanced features such as digital displays, cameras, proximity and lift sensors and refined boom control functions are now available. Pettibone has revitalized the traversing carriage, which is a different technology than others in the market. The traversing carriage has 70 inches of forward travel of the entire boom and tower assemblies, allowing for full height load placement and smoother, more efficient control.

We find rental houses typically run a unit through its financing period or to the product’s warranty limit, then sell the machines into the second-hand market with a good residual value.  

With their versatility, telehandlers offer endless rental opportunities due to the wide array of attachments available. Greater lift capacity telehandlers are finding new opportunities in the oil and gas market for pipe handling.

Braden Spence, Skyjack product manager

Braden Spence.
Skyjack product manager

Streamlined powertrains eliminate Tier 4 concerns
There is a trend In the telehandler market for 6,000- to 10,000 pound-class of telehandlers that use a 74-horsepower engine. These telehandlers previously used 107- or 134-horsepower engines. Skyjack was one of the first manufacturers to downsize the engine when it launched its TH series in 2015 with SmartTorque.

Skyjack’s TH series, excluding the SJ1256 THS, comes standard with a 74-horsepower Deutz engine that can provide the necessary torque, tractive effort and hydraulic performance found in higher horsepower engines. That engine, used with the SmartTorque powertrain, means there are no diesel particulate filter (DPF) or diesel exhaust fluid (DEF)

Skyjack SJ519 TH telehandler
Skyjack telehandler experts continue to see a positive trend in the use of compact telehandlers in the North American market and it is one of the driving forces behind why Skyjack unveiled the SJ519 TH, its first compact telehandler, in 2018.

Skyjack telehandler experts continue to see a positive trend in compact telehandlers used in the North American market. That’s why Skyjack unveiled the SJ519 TH, its first compact telehandler, in 2018. With the job site versatility provided by their small stature, compact telehandlers are continuously praised by fleet managers and end users. In North America, telehandlers were traditionally designed for pick-and-place applications. However, compact telehandlers that are equipped with a low boom mount and two-section boom can also be used as a tool carrier. 

For simplicity, Skyjack engineers strive to make units less complicated. Skyjack’s in-cab multifunction display, standard on TH series models, simplifies retrieving engine troubleshooting codes. The operator doesn’t have to refer to special software or a laptop to understand the problem. 

Skyjack’s Elevate telematics solution is a good example of how technology is changing the telehandler market and increasing ROI and reducing cost of ownership of rental units. The Elevate system provides rental companies a direct line to understanding the health of the engine and can be broken down by operator. 

If there is a service call, the Elevate system provides service alerts, usage reports and other insights that allow the service technician to understand machine issues before going into the field. It gives actionable insights that can improve ROI and decrease cost of ownership.

Skyjack engineers’ approach to the TH series was to design a true rental telehandler. Skyjack’s initial market-share expectations were exceeded; this validates the approach and consideration of the rental ROI model. 

ROI on telehandlers in a rental fleet can be viewed two ways: First, calculating value from the machine from its ability to perform many types of tasks on a job site. Skyjack’s SJ519 TH is one machine that can accomplish numerous jobs.

Second, serviceability affects ROI and all Skyjack telehandlers are designed with serviceability in mind. Main service points are easily accessible. They are designed with an understanding of the importance of decreased downtime. Parts are easy to replace, which further provides strong ROI. 

New opportunities for telehandlers are constant. Through the use of aftermarket options, the telehandler has developed into much more than a pick-and-place machine. This positively impacts ROI. The Skyjack SJ519 TH features high-flow auxiliary hydraulics and a skid steer adapter plate option so it can be used in skid-steer loader applications. 

Robby Hagan, XTreme Manufacturing/Snorkel senior vice president of sales, the Americas
Robby Hagan, XTreme Manufacturing/Snorkel 
senior vice president of sales, the Americas

Telehandlers attractive to many trades
Customers are looking for telehandlers that can operate on less than 75 horsepower so they don’t need to meet Tier 4 Final regulations. Manufacturers are investigating alternatives in gearing, torque converters, continuous variable transmissions, weight reduction programs and higher torque/large-displacement engines to maximize performance. 

Customers are interested in load-moment indicating systems that assist rental houses in ensuring customers are using the equipment correctly, which helps minimize expensive repairs and extends the unit’s work life. 

Multiple telehandlers can be found on most job sites because each trade needs to safely and efficiently move materials and equipment. Telehandlers offer additional support for cranes and save costs vs. traditional material handling equipment because they can carry out many duties by switching attachments.

The average ROI ranges from 4.5 to 6 percent for telehandlers up to a 12,000-pound capacity. Currently, we are seeing a high demand for telehandlers; rental companies have had a slight increase in rental rates due to a shortage in availability. 

Further opportunities for telehandler rentals are coming from the industrial, infrastructure and oil and gas market segments, which are continuing to grow as they learn more of the role a telehandler can play on those job sites. They can replace rough-terrain cranes in some applications. 

Jay Quatro, Wacker Neuson field application and training specialist
Jay Quatro, Wacker Neuson field application and training specialist

Designed for more than pick-and-place jobs
Customers want to handle multiple tasks with one machine. Manufacturers are responding with improved controls, more attachment options and larger cabs.

Wacker Neuson currently offers two telehandlers in the United States, models TH522 and TH627. These versatile machines feature a single joystick with all boom and hydraulic functions so the operator can keep one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the joystick, simplifying operation and increasing safety. They also come standard with a universal attachment plate that fit skid steer and wheel loader attachments.

Wacker Neuson telehandler moving snow
Wacker Neuson engineers designed its telehandlers to be ground engaging. Being able to rent a ground-engaging telehandler to accomplish wheel loader tasks can dramatically increase annual utilization. Even in winter months, they make excellent snow removal machines, taking advantage of the extra reach and height of the boom.

OSHA is strict with licensing and regulations on a job site. To ensure the operator keeps the load within a safe working envelope, load charts are required in every telehandler size.

Wacker Neuson’s Load Management System (LMS) simplifies load chart use. This technology alerts the operator if the load exceeds the weight limit at any point during the lift cycle and locks out the boom until the load is returned to a safe operating position. This system is standard on Wacker Neuson telehandlers and is a simple way to ensure customers will operate it safely. 

The higher the annual utilization percentage, the faster the rental center earns back its investment and makes a profit. Traditionally, telehandlers have been designed to serve one purpose: pick and place. During peak construction season, utilization can be high. However, in winter months, this can drop significantly, leaving telehandlers unrented.

Wacker Neuson engineers designed its telehandlers to be ground engaging. With a two-piece boom, low rear pivot point, universal attachment plate and auxiliary hydraulics, they can be used with traditional skid steer and wheel loader attachments. 

Renting a ground-engaging telehandler to accomplish wheel loader tasks dramatically increases annual utilization. They are excellent for snow removal. 

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