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Tips on How to Choose the Best Telehandler Attachment

Tue March 26, 2013 - National Edition
Brian Boeckman


The swing carriage, which rotates up to 90 degrees to the left or right allows operators to swing and place longer loads through windows and in confined areas.
The swing carriage, which rotates up to 90 degrees to the left or right allows operators to swing and place longer loads through windows and in confined areas.
The swing carriage, which rotates up to 90 degrees to the left or right allows operators to swing and place longer loads through windows and in confined areas. Grapple buckets feature a hydraulic arm that clamps down to grab bulky materials and secure the load.

Telehandlers provide a convenient way to move many types and sizes of loads. When properly selected, a variety of attachments that fit on the end of the telehandler boom can enhance the versatility and performance of these machines.

Determining the optimum attachment for a particular application requires a thorough understanding of the load you are moving. That means asking a number of questions: What are the width, length and height of the load? Is it palletized for forks, or will the load require a sling? How heavy is the load, and where is its center of gravity? Answers to these questions will direct operators to the attachment best suited to perform the task at hand.

Common to most job sites are standard carriages that enable operators to pick and place an assortment of materials, from pallets of concrete block to loads of lumber. They typically come in a variety of widths (JLG offers 50, 60, and 72 in. [127, 152 and 183 cm] widths), so carriages should be selected to accommodate the width of the load. Fork length should also be selected to accommodate the length of the load. JLG offers 48-, 60-, and 72-in. [122, 152 and 183 cm] forks as well as a 90-in. (228 cm) fork extension for longer loads.

In addition to width and fork length, carriages vary according to their ability to tilt forward and aft as well as side to side. Standard carriages provide the operator with the ability to tilt the forks forwards and backwards. Side-tilt carriages tilt side to side for more precise placement and retrieval, while side-shift carriages make it possible to slide a load 4 in. (10 cm) to the right or left during placement by moving the forks side to side on the carriage. This is especially helpful in warehouse applications or applications that require load retrieval or placement through a window.

Another carriage option is the swing carriage, which rotates up to 90 degrees to the right or left, allowing operators to swing and place longer loads through windows and in confined areas, or where exact positioning is required. In addition, a dual fork positioning carriage provides the ability to adjust the position of each fork independently, allowing the operator to handle a variety of palletized loads without having to leave the cab.

Buckets provide operators with another useful tool. A standard utility or material bucket is an effective and efficient tool to scoop and carry loose materials around the job site, including gravel, dirt, mulch and other small debris. To tackle larger tasks, including clean-up associated with natural disasters, many telehandler manufacturers offer grapple buckets, which feature a hydraulic grapple arm that clamps down to grab bulky materials and secure the load.

Truss booms offer a means to move suspended loads and are primarily used to set trusses, frames, and beams for wood and steel building construction. Available with or without a winch, the booms come in different sizes and provide the operator with extra reach capabilities without requiring a larger machine.

Suspended loads also can be handled with a lifting hook. The hook slips onto the carriage forks, adding versatility to the carriage and allowing operators to lift awkward objects, like septic tanks and generators without removing the carriage.

Finally, personal work platforms extend the capabilities of the telehandler and improve job site efficiency and productivity by lifting material and persons to working heights when there is no safer alternative. The fork-mounted attachment can move brick layers and mortar from one level of scaffolding to the next, lift inspectors for roof inspections, elevate electricians and spools of cable to transformers, and lift maintenance workers to replace parking lot lights.

To gain the full benefit of each of these attachments, operators are advised to answer the questions originally posed in this article and review the load chart that accompanies each piece of equipment. In addition, it makes sense to consult with the local rental store or telehandler dealer to ensure the best match of attachment to the defined scope of work. By taking these simple steps, operators will more fully appreciate the versatility of the telehandler as a job site work tool, and its ability to meet a wide variety of jobs faster and with greater ease.