Choosing a Telehandler

choosing a telehandler

To ensure your crew has what they need, you need to provide them with the right telehandler for the job. With the right equipment, they can increase their efficiency and productivity, while you can cut down on expenses.

Telehandlers are versatile pieces of equipment that have many features and attachments for a wide variety of uses. You can rent models for specific uses, customizing down to the weight capacity, steering and added accessories. This guide will show you the most important factors to consider before renting a telehandler.

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Types of Telehandlers

Because there are so many options to consider when renting a telehandler, it’s best to start with the main functionality — lifting and transportation. The purpose of renting lift equipment is ultimately to be able to move heavy materials around a worksite. Telehandlers can haul heavy loads across long distances, lift them to different levels and position them.

types of telehandlers

Telehandlers come in two main varieties, based on their movement capabilities:

  • Fixed: Fixed telehandlers have a lower range of motion, but are better suited for particularly heavy loads. The cab is locked in one place, unable to rotate. While this variety has more limited movements, it has several subcategories by weight and reach distance. From smallest to largest capacity, these pieces of equipment come in super compact, compact, standard lift, high lift and high load models.
  • Rotating: Rotating telehandlers have a more extensive range of movement, as the cab and boom can rotate 360 degrees while the body remains stationary. Not only is it relatively easy to maneuver, but it’s also perfect for positioning materials in areas that are typically challenging to reach.

Within these two categories, you also have the option of specialized models, such as compact and rough terrain. Compact models make it easier for your team to use a telehandler in cramped conditions with limited room for heavy lifting equipment. One of the recommended applications is in residential construction sites. Rough terrain models have added stabilization to handle uneven or rough surfaces with relative ease.

All of these varieties of telehandler can be made more versatile through the use of attachments.

Telehandler vs. Forklift

While telehandlers and forklifts have some similarities, they each have their distinctive functions and ideal applications. Some of their main differences are:

  • Indoor vs. outdoor: Both kinds of equipment are suitable for indoor and outdoor uses, but telehandlers are more capable on uneven terrain. Specific models have built-in stabilizers and frame leveling abilities. Forklifts are typically better for indoor use and operating in compact spaces.
  • Lift capabilities: “Telehandler” is both an abbreviation and conjunction that means telescoping handler. It refers to the way the boom moves, where it can extend and retract to reach different heights. They can also move horizontally, tilt payloads into place and move materials forward and backward without moving the body. Forklifts do not have booms, nor do they typically have any form of horizontal movement. To move loads forwards into place or backward, you have to drive equipment.
  • Versatility: Forklifts have several available attachments that increase their versatility, but telehandlers have many. From buckets to crane jibs to work platforms, they provide a multitude of options, making them better for crews that need one piece of equipment to lift various materials.

telehandlers vs forklifts

If you’re trying to choose between a telehandler or forklift, renting a telehandler is the better option. It’s adaptable to a broader range of uses and has the advantage of precise positioning tools.

Functions of a Telehandler

Telehandlers are highly versatile pieces of equipment. They’re mainly used for construction and industrial purposes and are well-suited for outdoor workspaces. Overall, they have five main hydraulic functions:

  • Vertical boom lift: The telescoping boom can lift and extend to reach distant heights.
  • Horizontal boom extension: Just as the boom extends for height, it also extends to reach farther distances without moving the equipment closer.
  • Fork tilt up and down: The fork attachment on the end of the boom tilts to angle the prongs up or down. It helps with maneuvering objects more accurately.
  • Stabilizers up and down: There are two stabilizers on the front end of the body that help it maintain balance while lifting objects.
  • Frame leveling: If you’re dealing with particularly rough terrain, frame leveling will ensure the equipment remains horizontally even by tilting the axles appropriately.

telehandler benefits

While these are the functions of the telehandler itself, you can also add on attachments that expand its range of uses.

The Benefits of Renting

Since certain pieces of equipment aren’t necessary for every job, purchasing an entire fleet can be excessively pricey and less than productive. The telehandler industry in North America is about 80 to 90% rental, which shows that renting a telehandler is often the best choice. There are many benefits in choosing to rent rather than buy, including:

  • No long-term investment: Purchasing large equipment takes a lot of commitment. First, you need to know what model and size telehandler is best for your uses, or whether or not you need a variety for different applications. The equipment is expensive, and with additional costs like attachments, it can be a significant monetary investment you may not be willing to commit to right away. There’s also the question of if you have the space to store telehandlers and additional features. By renting, you can avoid all of these long term considerations and get the right tools whenever a job requires them without worrying about overspending or storage.
  • Maintenance and repairs: When you purchase new or used equipment, you become responsible for providing adequate maintenance and any needed repairs. It may require you to hire a technician or employ outside services, which can be a costly added expense. With rental telehandlers, the company you choose to work with will provide all these services and keep equipment running in top condition. You’ll know you can rely on them anytime.
  • Access to the latest tech: As advancements in technology reach the market, telehandlers and other pieces of equipment become more and more convenient and multi-faceted. Buying a specific brand or model means committing to a set of capabilities until it either needs replacing or you have the budget for an upgrade. Rental companies give you full access to all the latest models and tech, meaning your efficiency will never suffer from outdated equipment.
  • Testing without commitment: Whether or not you’re looking to purchase a telehandler in the future, renting provides you with the freedom to try different models and brands. You can switch as often as you need, as your projects may require different features or equipment specifications.

With these advantages, you can worry less about your equipment and focus your time on finishing projects with accuracy and efficiency. Even when you’re renting, it’s still best to figure out precisely what you need in a telehandler model beforehand. Otherwise, you may end up wasting time or money.

Factors to Consider Before Renting a Telehandler

Since telehandlers are such versatile pieces of equipment, there are multiple factors you should consider before deciding on a rental. From telehandler sizes to applications, each of the following factors makes a difference when it comes to choosing the best option for your needs:

factors to consider

1. Capacity

One of the most distinguishing factors between different telehandler models is the maximum amount of weight they can lift. It’s essential to rent a model that can handle more weight than the load sizes you plan to move. If your operator exceeds the capacity, it can put your crew in danger. Typically, the maximum capacity of rental telehandlers ranges from about 4,000 to 12,000 pounds. However, the weight limit is lower when the telehandler boom is at maximum height or reach. Each model will have a set number based on the length of the boom and weight, which will always be significantly less than the overall capacity.

2. Height

Depending on your workspace and intended uses, you can choose from several different lift heights. Maximum lift heights dictate how far you can lift loads vertically and they differ based on weight capacities. On minimum weight telehandlers, the top height is typically under 20 feet. Models that can lift 6,000 to 9,000 pounds have a 42-foot max range, followed the top weights — 10,000 pounds and up — the range will span anywhere from 44 to 56 feet in height.

3. Reach

Similar to the height measurements, the maximum reach also depends on weight capacity and is a crucial factor to consider. The reach dictates how far you can extend the boom in a forward, horizontal direction. These measurements also vary, with smaller, more lightweight models having a maximum reach of about 10 feet and the largest varieties reaching up to 45 feet.

4. Turning Radius

You’ll need to thoroughly consider your team’s workspace before deciding on a rental, as maneuverability is important to your operators. The turning radius will determine how well the operator will be able to move around a jobsite. If the area is small or particularly cluttered, you’ll need a tighter turning radius. This factor matters less in wide-open spaces. But if materials are lying around or there are multiple work areas on the site, it may be more productive to err on the side of a smaller radius.

5. Boom Pivot Pin

Beyond the capabilities of the equipment, some of the significant design differences may matter to your operator. One of these differences is the position of the boom pivot pin. High-pin designs position the boom over the operator, requiring them to look under it when transporting loads. Low-pin styles are the opposite, where operators view over the boom. The positioning also determines how the equipment works best, as low-pin types are better for carrying loads closer to the ground while high-pin styles work better for lifting.

tire types

6. Tires

When considering what kind of telehandler model to rent, even the types of tires make a difference. There are three varieties — pneumatic, foam-filled and solid. Pneumatic tires are filled with air, and while they provide the best traction on any terrain, they’re also the most susceptible to flats. Foam-filled tires are more resistant to punctures and provide added stability, but are far heavier than the pneumatic types and can cause more wear on the equipment. Solid tires have little cushion, if any, and weigh more than the other varieties. However, that additional weight may provide more balance, allowing your operator to reach higher and farther or lift heavier loads.

7. Steering

If you want to have a versatile steering system, make sure you rent a telehandler that has the three modes — front-wheel, four-wheel and crab. This is the only piece of equipment that comes with these three varieties. With the front-wheel setting, only the front two wheels shift to turn the body, much like a car. It’s safe to use on roads and works well in open areas. Four-wheel steering allows for a much tighter turning radius, as it uses all four wheels to rotate the body, and is better suited for crowded areas. The crab setting is hardly steering at all. It allows the operator to rotate all four wheels in the same direction, which means the telehandler can move diagonally or side to side to position the boom precisely.

8. Accessories

While the most common form of telehandler attachment is a standard fork and carriage, many other varieties will increase the versatility of your equipment. There are general and specific attachments to cover a diverse range of job applications, including several forms of buckets and grapples. If you’re interested in renting attachments, you should discuss your intended uses for the equipment with your rental company. Their professionals can help you choose the right accessories for your applications.

Questions to Answer Before Choosing a Rental

Once you understand all of the options telehandlers provide, you should evaluate which features would best suit your intended uses. You need to know specific details about the environment where your team is working, what they need to lift and haul and what your operator’s previous experiences and preferences are. If you’re unsure about any of these, it’s essential to discuss them with your team before renting.

know your options

For a thorough idea of which kind of telehandler and what features to choose, you should at least answer these questions:

1. What Are You Planning to Lift and Where?

Depending on what your team will be using the telehandler to lift, you can accurately choose what weight capacity and accessories you’ll need. Have an idea of how much a single load of your materials might weigh, then be sure to rent a telehandler with an extended boom weight capacity over that amount. If you come too close to the absolute maximum, you may put your crew in danger.

Also, there are many attachment options that allow for the safe handling of different materials. If you are using the telehandler to lift a single kind of item, you may only need one type of attachment. However, if you plan on lifting and hauling various materials, or want to expand the versatility of your rental, you should look into your available attachment options.

2. What Accessories and Features Might Your Team Need?

Telehandler attachments come in five varieties — buckets, carriages, forks, platforms and other specialized types. There is a different attachment for almost anything you need to lift, including members of the crew. Within each category, there are several specific options:

  • Buckets: Grapple buckets are fitted with a hydraulic arm to secure loads. Material buckets are for cleaning the worksite, loading, leveling and spreading material like gravel. Pipe grapples are specifically for handling multiple or single pipes.
  • Carriages: Dual fork positioning carriages make small adjustments in position easier. Side shift carriages allow for several inches of shift left and right. Side-tilt carriages and swing carriages enable the operator to position more carefully.
  • Forks: Cubing forks are specialized for lifting cubes of brick and block. Fork extensions add length to the fork for larger or longer objects. Fork-mounted extendable trusses are best for work on metal and frame buildings as well as setting wooden trusses. Lumber forks are for long objects, and pallet forks are for material stored on pallets.
  • Platforms: Fork-mounted work platforms allow your operator to elevate crew members and materials for greater equipment flexibility.
  • Specialized: Coupler-mounted and standard lifting hooks allow the operator to lift and move equipment without switching out for a new attachment. Material handling arms are for moving materials around a worksite and are suited ideally for construction and civil engineering projects. Truss booms are crane-like attachments for setting trusses in wood and steel building construction. Sweepers are for cleaning pathways, and towers provide the operator with further vertical boom reach.

telehandler attachments

Each attachment has a specific use and ability, and by renting a telehandler and the necessary accessories, your team can complete multiple jobs with one piece of equipment.

3. Does Your Operator Have the Required Training?

Training is essential to maintaining workplace safety, especially around large, heavy lifting equipment. If your operator doesn’t have the required training for telehandlers, they must have it before using one around your worksite. They should at least have ANSI Aerial Lift and OSHA Telehandler certifications.

telehandler training

If your operator hasn’t had the proper training, some rental facilities can provide training before using it on the jobsite. Make sure your operator takes a course that includes pre-operation inspection, procedures for starting and shutting down the equipment, actions in case of emergency, general daily operations and hands-on experience, culminating in a test. Passing grades will earn participants an operator’s permit.

4. What Type of Telehandler Is Best for Your Operator?

It’s impossible to know what will best suit your team’s needs without thoroughly analyzing your work situation. Every detail matters, but the top four to look into the most are:

  • Environment: The area where you plan on using a telehandler is an important part of your decision. Working on rough terrain means you may need to opt for the model specializing in uneven surfaces. At least, it should influence your decisions on what turning radius and tires your team needs.
  • Time of day: Working on construction sites during the night requires added precautions and more specialized equipment. Outdoor daytime projects are naturally well lit. If your crew is working after dark, they should have equipment with active headlights for their safety and the safety of others.
  • Uses: One of the most decisive factors is what you intend to lift with your telehandler and how far it needs to go. The weight, load size and shape of the materials will dictate what model you should rent as well as what attachments you should have alongside the traditional lift.
  • Comfort: Ultimately, your operator is the one who will be spending the most time in the telehandler. It’s essential to know their comfort levels and factor that information into your decision. You should give your crew their best chances for efficiency and success, so consulting them will pay off in the long run.

Rent a Telehandler From MacAllister Rentals

With MacAllister Rentals, you can find the right telehandler for your business. Our professional staff will help you choose from our extensive inventory of equipment, including reliable, high-quality brands like Cat® and SkyJack. We have many locations across Indiana and Michigan, and our unparalleled customer service means you’ll always have the help you need, in-store or on-site.

rent a telehandler

Provide your team with the best equipment for their productivity — browse our catalog of telehandlers for rent or contact us for more information.

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