Telehandlers are a popular choice for a wide range of material handling applications on job sites due to the variety of attachments they can be equipped with. The versatility of these machines allows operators the ability to perform a variety of job site tasks. Unlike forklifts, which rely on a vertical mast to move loads, telehandlers feature telescoping booms, allowing them to deliver materials to heights of 75 feet or higher and carry loads weighing as much as 75,000 pounds or more.
Understanding the nature of the work to be accomplished and the capabilities of the various attachments a machine can be fit with is critical to safe and efficient use. This means knowing whether a load needs to be picked or placed. Does the job require loose material to be scooped or a load suspended? Does the operator need to grapple loose material or pipes? Answering these questions will help contractors select the appropriate size and type of attachment.
Attachments generally fall into four categories: buckets, carriages, truss booms/lift hooks, and specialty attachments.
Buckets Collect and Move Loose Material
Buckets are a good choice when a job requires loose material to be loaded and moved. For example, a non-powered general-purpose bucket can be used to load dirt, mulch, gravel, or any other bulk material, while a powered grapple bucket is helpful for non-uniform loads that are awkward to capture in the bucket without the use of grapple arms. These arms also help maintain the load in the bucket during transporting and disposal of the contents.
Multi-purpose buckets are suited for a variety of applications. With a split bucket design, they can be used for loading, carrying, and dumping. They can also be used as a grapple for handling odd-shaped objects or for dozing, leveling, and spreading material with the clamshell open. It is important to note that all telehandler buckets are intended for non-excavating applications.
Carriage Attachments are Popular Choice on Job Sites
Carriage attachments perform numerous tasks and come in a variety of widths with various functionality, making them the most popular choice among telehandler attachments. Contractors who need to transport or place a load that requires no special features often choose a standard carriage to get the job done. With added features, the carriage can perform and provide positioning of the load to suit the end users’ needs. For example, the side tilt carriage is able to position a load properly for transport across uneven terrain and pick or place loads that are not on a level surface. Another option is the side swing carriage, which provides offset placement of a load at angles from 50 to 90 degrees each side of the center point. This is useful when the machine is unable to provide a direct path to a load due to a work environment that offers limited space to operate.
Contractors can also select a fork positioning carriage, which provides a powered means to situate the forks at the correct spread for palletized loads without the operator having to leave the cab. Side shifting carriages are also available, offering the ability to shift the entire carriage and fork either direction. This is useful if positioning the machine side-to-side is not possible when picking up a load, or if lateral placement of a load is necessary.
Truss Booms and Lift Hooks Provide Increased Reach
Another attachment that enhances telehandler versatility is the truss boom, which can provide a multitude of solutions to job site challenges. The truss boom can increase the capabilities of a vehicle by providing increased reach and, in some cases, increased height of the suspended load. The boom is available in various lengths, from a simple boom mounted lift hook to a 15-foot truss boom. Most come in fixed lengths, but adjustable truss booms are also available to vary the reach of the load. Additional variations of coupler or fork-mounted truss booms and hooks expand the options available to contractors. In those applications where up and down movement of a boom is not possible, a truss boom equipped with a winch offers a solution, allowing the operator to raise and lower the suspended load in a linear direction and into tight spots.
Specialty Attachments Equip Telehandler for Specific Tasks
Contractors also turn to a wide variety of specialty attachments to meet specific job site applications. Some of the more popular specialty attachments available to them today include fork-mounted work platforms, pipe grapples, sweepers, augers, trash hoppers, and more recently sheet material handlers.
The fork-mounted work platform can be installed on a carriage and used to lift personnel for those jobs that require hands-on work at heights. Pipe grapples are popular in the oil and gas industry, where they are used to grapple and transport pipes and poles of especially long lengths. Contractors will also find sweeper attachments useful for job site cleanup and collecting debris into a hopper for disposal. If a job requires an operator to “punch” holes for posts or poles, an auger is the ideal implement to accomplish the task. An auger bit is available in diameters ranging from 6 to 36 inches.
Fork-mounted trash hoppers are another specialty attachment for telehandlers. Equipped with a feature that allows the operator to empty the hopper’s contents without leaving the comfort of the telehandler cab, this accessory is a valuable addition to a telehandler that helps keep job sites clean and safe.
Sheet material handler attachments are ideal for building construction projects, giving operators the ability to confidently lift and place a variety of materials. The attachment can be used for picking and placing sheetrock, drywall, plywood, green board, and other sheet materials.
These quick coupler-mounted sheet material handler attachments can lift up to 3,000 pounds and offer a 72-inch maximum fork spread, allowing for heavy and wide materials to be delivered at height. To reduce worker fatigue, a typical sheet material handler attachment will have 100 degree fore and aft fork tilt and 180-degree side swing, which ensures accurate, convenient placement at the desired location.
Attachment Knowledge Key to Their Effective Use
When materials need to be moved around a job site or through a facility, telehandlers are often a go-to piece of equipment. Telehandler attachments offer contractors a variety of flexibility on the jobs site, from picking and placing palletized loads, to bucket work and suspending loads. To use them most effectively, however, requires that the operator become familiar with each of the attachment options available to them. By matching the right attachment to the task at hand, they will maximize the benefits of the telehandler and contribute to a safe, efficient, and productive job site.