Industry Outlook: Rough-Terrain Telehandlers

We asked leading rough-terrain telehandler experts to share their thoughts and trends they are experiencing with these versatile tools.

Rough-terrain telehandlers have quickly earned a spot of rental fleets because they are versatile, go-to tools that can carry, reach, tote and support a wide variety of materials on a job site.

Josh Taylor, Genie Terex AWP

Josh Taylor, product manager, Genie, Terex AWP

Tackling Tier 4 compliance
One of the biggest challenges facing end users and rental centers today with rough-terrain telehandlers has been the implementation of Tier 4 Final emissions regulations on large diesel equipment. Telehandlers are different from other large earthmoving equipment in that there are often multiple operators of the same piece of equipment. Those operators may range from being very skilled and savvy of the emissions technology to operators with very little knowledge of the requirements of Tier 4 Final engines.  

To accommodate the wide variety of operators, the Genie GTH-844 telehandler is available with a 74-hp. option, eliminating the cost and complexity of a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) injection system and diesel particulate filters (DPF). This model uses the same 3.6-liter engine that is in the higher horsepower machines, providing 287 foot-pounds of torque — a torque improvement of more than 25

Genie GTH-844 telehandler

To accommodate the wide variety of operators, the Genie GTH-844 telehandler is available with a 74-hp. option, eliminating the cost and complexity of a diesel exhaust fluid injection system and diesel particulate filters.

percent compared with the 2.9L 74-hp. engine used in similar machines on the market. Combined with the high-torque engine, the 74-hp. Genie GTH-844 model has an optimized transmission and gearing so operators have confidence in the machine’s performance when driving over demanding terrain with a full load.

The telehandler market can be challenging, especially in the rental segment because fleet owners need to see positive return on their investment. Acquisition and maintenance costs continue to be at the forefront of fleet planning, and manufacturers like Genie must continue to innovate to meet the needs of its customers.

In the case of Tier 4 Final machines, the acquisition price and maintenance costs associated with emission-compliant engines can negatively affect the ROI if DEF and DPF after-treatment are required. This was the main driver behind Genie designers offering the 74-hp. option on the Genie GTH-844 telehandler. Instead of making concessions in other areas, such as the lifting capacity at outreach or the quality of the components used, Genie engineered a solution that did not require sacrifices in performance or user experience.

On a job site, uptime is critical. The entire job, from start to finish, depends on people being able to complete their work on schedule. To that end, Genie designers have focused their engineering efforts on taking feedback from the field and making improvements in new models. That helps get the job done. One example of this is making the lifting shackle as standard equipment rather than an option as other manufacturers do. By offering a dedicated lifting point with a dedicated load chart, we reduce the need for users to figure out how to lift a suspended load. We also offer an optional rear-proximity alarm, which alerts the operator of obstacles within the detection range of the sensor when the vehicle is in reverse. 

There are also simple things we have done to improve the operator experience, such as provide a tray at the front of the machine to hold straps, chains and other rigging. This keeps rigging tools from being thrown or draped over the front of the machine, where they could potentially fall off and get lost.

Genie is also very easy to work with when it comes to attachments. It has developed relationships with all major attachment manufacturers to evaluate and approve attachments on Genie telehandlers. This makes Genie telehandlers the preferred brand on the site, regardless of the attachment that needs to be used.

In addition to the options mentioned above, Genie offers a variety of carriage options to fit a wide range of applications. Genie offers jib booms, truss booms and spreader bars that fulfill the needs of most rental customers. All Genie telehandlers come standard with an auxiliary hydraulic circuit to power attachments that require it.

In addition, Genie offers optional work lights, road lights and flashing beacons on its telehandler models, as well as several tire options, including standard air-filled, rough-terrain foam-filled and solid tires. These options allow the rough-terrain telehandlers meet the needs of the most demanding applications. Combined with the Terex commitment to working closely with telehandler customers and end users, Genie is confident that it can configure a telehandler to tackle most lifting jobs.

Mike Peterson, caterpillar
Mike Peterson, telehandler product application specialist, Caterpillar

Matching price to productivity
Beyond the improvements being made to the telehandler powertrain to meet Tier 4 Final emissions requirements, telehandlers have the difficult challenge of consistently improving quality and reliability, as well as incorporating industry innovations, all while keeping market acquisition pricing in line with rental rates. Lower-horsepower engines are becoming increasingly popular, however performance in rough terrain, less-than-ideal underfoot conditions, remains to be proven.  

Cat telehandler
Work tool attachment variety continues to expand rough-terrain telehandler versatility. Some models now offer strong standard auxiliary flow connections at the boom head to power augers, concrete buckets and sweepers. These greatly expand the capabilities of a telehandler’s day-to-day-capabilities.

Auxiliary hydraulics is standard on most models, as are lifting lugs on the boom head that allow tethering loads without additional work tool attachments. Solid tires are becoming more common as rental operators look to reduce owning and operating costs, and the availability of rear object peripheral sensors and rear cameras is a welcome improvement to the operator for job site awareness.

Work tool attachment variety continues to expand rough-terrain telehandler versatility. Some models offer strong standard auxiliary flow connections at the boom head to power augers, concrete buckets and sweepers. These greatly expand the telehandler’s day-to-day capabilities. 

Improve safety, productivity
Garth McGillewie, President, Applied Machinery – Merlo
Maintenance, durability and safety are the main concerns of rough-terrain telehandler users. Merlo telehandlers are designed for easy access for maintenance and repair. We also powder coat them for durability and we protect the hydraulic lines by routing them so they are not easily damaged. We also incorporate safety systems to prevent overloading.

Manufacturers are making stronger telehandlers for larger jobs. Merlo has engineered its machines to lift more with a smaller footprint by designing a carriage that is the counterweight instead of adding rear counterweights. 

Merlo has adopted numerous safety measures to assure that the users are able to work safely and effectively. Beyond that, Merlo already offers a rotating telehandler that other telehandler companies are beginning to understand its benefits. The flexibility of this machine is appealing to many different users and can save users money because they don’t have to rent several different machines.

Merlo offers attachments to accommodate anything from man baskets to mulching buckets. We also offer several options for crane applications that replace the need of small cranes.

Rebecca Yates, JCB

Rebecca Yates. telehandler product marketing manager, JCB North America

Niche models increase
JCB invented the telehandler in 1977. Over the past 40 years, customer demand for telehandlers has become increasingly specialized with features and capabilities tailored to specific industry — and even niche applications — to enhance productivity and efficiency.

For example, JCB recently launched the 514-56 S Energy Master with the new DualTech variable transmission that can operate at up to 25 mph yet has accurate inching control in a single transmission housing. It’s an ideal unit for the energy sector with its requirement to cover large worksites and handle high-cost payloads with precision. Other JCB specialty application packages, such as the Wastemaster and Agri models, are also in strong demand.

In recent years, the most significant driver of change in the rental telehandler market has been the introduction of Tier 4 Final engine emissions standards that reduce diesel exhaust particulate matter and NOx emissions.

JCB telehandler
Work tool attachment variety continues to expand rough-terrain telehandler versatility. Some models now offer strong standard auxiliary flow connections at the boom head to power augers, concrete buckets and sweepers. These greatly expand the capabilities of a telehandler’s day-to-day-capabilities.

JCB offers a no after-treatment solution for models up to 10,000 pounds; the 74-hp. EcoMax engine is highly efficient and meets the Tier 4 standards without a DPF or selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust treatment. This solution can dramatically reduce operating and service costs and complexity.

Smaller, more congested worksites are becoming increasingly common, particularly in urban environments, resulting in safety and maneuverability challenges. For equipment renters, visibility around the machine is crucial, and is the reason why JCB places such emphasis on improved visibility features such as a low boom placement, sloping engine hood and superior rear visibility. Optional features, such as a 360-degree camera systems and pulse radar, can help make the working environment safer.

To address maneuverability challenges, two-wheel, four-wheel drive and crab steering allow an operator to better navigate tight working areas.

Today’s rental customers want a machine that meets the demands of their applications without having to make significant compromises. This requires equipment manufacturers to develop models tailored to common rental applications. The new JCB 508-66TC, for example, with its maximum lift capacity of 8,800 pounds and a maximum lift height of 66 feet, is built for working on urban, medium-rise construction projects that often require the ability to maneuver within tight spaces and lift materials higher than five stories. Another feature of the 508-66TC and other JCB telehandlers popular with equipment renters is the 74-hp. engine that requires no after-treatment systems.

Attachments continue to expand the versatility of the telehandler and JCB continues to grow its attachment offering. JCB’s compact telehandler, the 505-20TC, can be fitted with a skid steer coupler so it can also use many of the skid steer attachments available today.

Aligning rental center needs with user demands
Vincent Mazzoleni, telehandler product manager, Haulotte North America
End users and rental centers have common challenges: they want to do their jobs more efficiently to save money. However, the importance they give to different factors to measure this efficiency varies.

Haulotte telehandler
End users are more demanding about performance, and Haulotte has developed a wide range of optional accessories so the equipment can be adapted to meet specific needs.

The telehandler has to be versatile enough to increase the number of hours of use, easy to move from one site to another, and of course, be reliable with less need for maintenance.

There is a difference with end users having a higher desire for performance and accuracy. End users have to be sure the telehandler will do the job well the first time and on time.

Rental centers are interested in the size of the equipment. How compact the units are without sacrificing power so they can optimize the number of applications and environment where the telehandlers can work. Rental centers are also concerned with equipment reliability and pay attention to maintenance ease and frequency it is required. Rental centers also appreciate friendly diagnostic systems that can quickly pinpoint problems and provide fleet system management.

End users are more demanding about performance, and Haulotte has developed a wide range of optional accessories so the equipment can be adapted to meet specific needs.

At the same time, end users are more focused on the speed at which the machine can complete the job with no wasted time. To that end, Haulotte models have improved the accuracy of the equipment so end users can do the job well the first time. Finally, Haulotte models have improved safety features on the equipment that helps protect operators and others working near the equipment.

Rental companies are focused on their core business. When it comes to business development efforts, they need to focus on developing infrastructure and making investments that go farther in a larger area. With versatile equipment such as rough-terrain telehandlers, rental centers can offer solutions that can be rented in many different applications such as construction, industry, mining, oil and agriculture. Most of these applications have different season use cycles.

Therefore, with the versatility of a rough-terrain telehandler, the number of rental days a year can increase. The same equipment can be valued in different applications thanks to safety features such as stability management system, reverse camera and fire prevention. Additional features can improve productivity in harsh environments or specific handling jobs.

John Boehme, JLG

John Boehme, telehandler product manager - Americas, JLG Industries Inc.

Increasing versatility reduces equipment needs
End users want to have operator confidence, operator comfort and they want to maximize versatility of the machine. Fewer machines they need to rent means they are better poised to stay within their budgets.

Another challenge end users tend to face are crowded job sites. Maximizing product attributes such as visibility,
turning radius, ground clearance and overall machine footprint help end users maneuver crowded job sites with confidence.

Rental companies need solutions to help maximize their return on investment (ROI). They are looking to increase machine uptime to keep machines on job sites longer. They want ease of serviceability and excellent aftermarket support.

JLG telehandler

For equipment renters, visibility around the machine is crucial. Low boom placement, sloping engine hood and superior rear visibility help achieve greater visibility for the operator.

Telehandlers continue to evolve with new features, options and accessories that help bolster operator confidence. JLG personnel continuously monitor the market and talk with our customers and end users about their needs and then develop and introduce new products, features, options and accessories accordingly.

Telehandler features that appeal to end users include increased visibility, enhanced operator comfort with a spacious cab and a variety of options for greater operator confidence. Gaining in popularity are reverse sensing systems, reversing camera, ride control and SmartLoad Technology that integrates three technologies that contribute to operator confidence, which benefits the end users and rental company.

The first component of the SmartLoad Technology bundle is attachment recognition, which allows a telehandler to automatically identify an attachment and display the appropriate load chart to the operator. The second, a load management information system (LMIS) graphically depicts the location of the load within the load chart, provides the operator with an indication of compliance and prevents the operator from violating the boundaries of the chart. The third is a load stability indicator (LSI) that works in conjunction with the LMIS to limit operation when a load becomes non-compliant. By combining attachment recognition with real-time load data, this three-part system lets operators work with more confidence, while fleet owners avoid the negative consequences of overloading.

Telehandler features that appeal to rental customers include those that help to maximize their ROI. An example of this is extended service intervals. The new JLG and SkyTrak telehandlers’ engine service interval has doubled from 500 to 1,000 hours. By increasing the period between oil changes, we are reducing the time customers spend changing oil and filters while increasing the time machines are rental-ready. The new JLG telehandlers have also taken steps to reduce the number of cylinders and placement to help maximize serviceability. Moving the telescopic cylinders from inside the boom to the top provide technicians with better access.

A switch to a single compensation and lift cylinder design means fewer components to maintain. In addition, JLG and SkyTrak telehandlers are compatible with the JLG mobile analyzer, which helps technicians diagnose and service the machines. All of this leads to longer uptime and increased ROI.

Another aspect rental companies look for and value is aftermarket support. They want to feel comfortable that they have support from the OEM and will have access to parts, training, warranty and service support.

There are several options to help rental customers increase versatility with telehandlers. JLG and SkyTrak telehandlers feature an integrated hitch and offer a wide range of standard and special attachments, providing the operator with more options on the job site. They are also equipped with a boom-mounted lifting lug that allows rental customers to maneuver suspended loads around the job site. Specialized attachments, such as a material-handling arm, pipe grapple, trash hopper and sweeper help improve machine versatility, adding to job site productivity and efficiency.

Eugenio Magni, Magni telehandlers

Eugenio Magni, product manager, Magna Telehandlers

Rotating telehandlers offer increased capacity, crane versatility
A common concern for end users and rental fleet is the need to go higher with heavier loads. Both need telehandlers that are easy to use and reliable and offer the maximum level of safety.

To accomplish this, it requires new machine concepts. For example, to go higher with more capacity, Magni is developing the newest metal alloys and we are using a load-sensing 350-bar pump in our hydraulic circuit.

To make the telehandlers more user friendly, we developed an icon-based touch screen interface to manage the whole machine. The machines are also built with the best components available, such as Bosch, Rexroth, Dana, Mercedes, Deutz, Deutsch, Ala, Danfoss and others.

For safety, our telehandlers are built to the EN 13000 crane safety standard. Further, all safety aspects are managed by electronic components that have built-in redundancy.

Rotating telehandlers are growing in popularity with rental centers. They allow switching out attachments so they best match customer needs. Magni software, which is available in 20 languages, allows it to easily switch attachments and have the machine operate within the safety parameters of that attachment and telehandler.

The rotating telehandler concept is relatively new to the U.S. market. Its extreme flexibility with a variety of attachments can be very helpful on confined job sites, especially when compared with 60- or 70-ton cranes. Rotating telescopic handlers are lighter, more compact and can handle loads up to 6,000 pounds. Further, a crane operator license is not needed.

Users will find the dynamic load chart displayed on the touch screen helpful and the possibility to set the maximum hydraulic speed of specific machine movement can increase productivity and safety. The unit can be programmed to exclude or limit working areas and heights. The unit, through its electronic system, can be monitored and diagnosed remotely. If the machine malfunctions, repair suggestions are quickly available from the manufacturer.

The most important innovation for U.S. market is the new working heights of these machines. They can reach nearly 140 feet. That allows them to work with very tall buildings with limited space on the ground.

Steve Kikunas, Manitou

Steve Kikunas, telescopic product manager, Manitou Americas

Keys to telescopic handler rentals
Providing the perfect combination of material pick and placement with all-terrain access, today’s telescopic handler is a vital tool for every job site. These versatile tools provide efficient material transport, saving time and labor. Telescopic handlers often are the first piece of equipment to arrive on a job site and the last to leave. They are used to unload delivery trucks, move materials to where workers use them and then provide site clean-up and load building tools and fixtures on trucks for the next job.

When renting a telescopic handler, first make sure that your operator is a trained telehandler operator. Since 1999, OSHA requires all employers of telescopic handler operators to ensure those operators have the required training before operating a telescopic handler. This training is identified in the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178(l). Telescopic handler operators hired should have proof that they have this training before being assigned to operate a telescopic handler.

Generally, when selecting a telescopic handler for rental, contractors look to match the capabilities of the machine with the requirements for the project. To determine the maximum lift capacity of a telescopic handler, contractors should know the weights of the materials that will be used on the job site. Some of these loads may be double-stacked when transported to the site, so for unloading trucks, the machine should be able to pick those pre-packaged materials without making additional trips.

Contractors should also understand the site requirements as to how close the machine can be placed to the working area and how far the telescopic boom must reach to place the materials. The machine load chart should be used to determine if the machine selected can reach and place the materials. The maximum capacity is generally only for one lifting range on a telescopic handler. There are a number of lift capacity ranges, so when placing materials at higher lifting heights or at greater forward extensions, the capacity at that configuration may be lower than the machine’s maximum capacity.

The new GEHL RS9-50 can demonstrate this – the machine has the ability to lift and place 9,000 pounds and lift up to 35 feet high. However, to place a load 12 feet in front of the machine and 47 feet high, the capacity is 5,000 pounds. Or, if placing an object on the ground 30 feet in front of the machine, the capacity is 1,000 pounds. Understanding the weights of the loads on the job site and where the loads have to be placed and where the machine will be located
are important considerations to selecting the correct telescopic handler for the job.

Other important characteristics of individual telescopic handlers when renting a machine for a job are the size, weight and maneuverability of the machine. The ability of the telescopic handler to move in all areas on the job site is important, and to avoid restrictions due to the size of the machine, first check the height and width of the machine for the project. Also, if the machine will be used on floors or spaces where ground pressure is restricted, understand the weight and ground pressure of the machine before renting it.

Maneuverability is important. Job sites tend to be crowded with materials and tools, so select a machine that has a tight turning radius that will allow it to work and transport materials in tight areas.

One more item to review before renting a telescopic handler is the attachment on the machine. The right attachment should match the type of materials and work planned for the telehandler. Fork types and sizes should match the size and types of materials. The fork carriage should match the width of the materials being handled. Palletized block or brick is often used with a 48-inch wide carriage, while long bundles of lumber generally have a 72-inch-wide fork carriage to provide greater support for the materials.

Telescopic handlers with a quick-attach system have the capability to use additional attachments beyond forks. Truss booms, buckets, work platforms and augers are all common attachments that can add versatility to the machine. When using these attachments, be sure to review the correct operating instructions in the operator’s manual.