Choosing the Right Telehandler

A telehandler, or telescopic handler, is a machine similar to a forklift that is widely used in various sectors including agriculture, industry, and construction. It is a practical and versatile handling machine equipped with an articulated telescopic arm for lifting, moving, and placing loads (materials, goods, etc.) with great stability. Telehandlers have four-wheel drive and are therefore able to operate on all types of terrain.

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  • How to choose a telehandler

    The following criteria should be considered when choosing a telehandler:

    • Handling capabilities: Do you want to load/unload or transport/move materials?
    • Load: What will you be loading and how much does it weigh?
    • Lifting capacity: This is the capacity that the telehandler can support.
    • Boom lifting height: You need to choose a telescopic handler compatible with the height at which you want to place your load, or from which you intend to move it. Models on the market offer lifting heights of up to 17 meters.
    • Horizontal extension: This is the maximum distance reached horizontally with the boom extended. Note that the load capacity of the boom at its extended reach will be lower than when it is retracted.
    • Type of telehandler: Depending on the type of movements you want to do, you can choose between a rotating telehandler and a fixed telehandler.
    • Dimensions: Check the length, width, and height of the equipment to ensure that it can move easily in the space where it will operate.
    • Work environment: Will the work be carried out indoors or outdoors? What type of floor or terrain will the machine operate on? Will it operate in confined spaces or areas that are difficult to access?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of telehandlers?

    Telehandlers have several advantages and disadvantages:


    Telehandlers are equipped with all-wheel drive, allowing them to operate on all types of floors and terrains. They offer great flexibility of use with the various accessories that can be attached to them such as forks and work platforms. They also make it possible to lift heavy loads to great heights and move them across long distances. Finally, they can be used to work in cramped urban conditions.


    Telehandlers are mainly used outdoors because of their large size, especially those with combustion engines. There are more compact models for indoor use, but they are much more expensive.

  • What are the different types of telehandlers?

    There are two main types of telehandlers: rotating and fixed. Although there are major differences between them, as we’ll explain later, both types of telehandlers can be fitted with different forms of steering (four-wheel steering, crab steering, and front-wheel only steering).

    • Rotating telehandlers
    MERLO SPA rotating telehandler

    MERLO SPA rotating telehandler

    Rotating telescopic handlers have a cab and boom, both of which can rotate 360 degrees while the body remains fixed.

    Rotating telehandlers offer several advantages:
    They are easy to maneuver and are ideal for moving loads in hard-to-reach areas and over uneven terrain. Depending on the model, booms can extend up to 46 meters and they can support load capacities of up to 45 tonnes.

    Telehandlers are widely used in the construction industry because of their ability to rotate, which enables them to reach areas that are difficult to access.

    • Fixed telehandlers
    JCB compact telehandler

    JCB compact telehandler

    Fixed telehandlers have a fixed cab and an articulated arm. Their lifting capacity and reach vary according to the model:

    Super-compact telehandlers: These lightweight machines have small lifting capacities (maximum 2.5 tonnes) and limited reach (up to 5.6 meters).
    Compact telehandlers: These can lift loads of up to 4 tonnes and have a maximum reach of 10 meters.
    Standard telehandlers: These can lift loads of up to 4 tonnes and have a maximum reach of 20 meters. They are widely used in the industrial sector.
    Heavy load telehandlers: These are capable of lifting loads of up to 7.2 tonnes but their maximum reach is limited to 10 meters. They are particularly well-suited to transporting heavy loads on construction sites, for example.

  • What jobs can you do with a telehandler?

    Telehandlers can be used for four main types of jobs:

    • Loading and unloading trucks
    • Transporting materials indoors or outdoors
    • Handling and storing merchandise
    • Working at elevated heights

    They are used in various sectors:

    • Construction
    • Agriculture
    • Industry
  • What are the different lifting accessories for telehandlers?

    Five main types of interchangeable accessories can be attached to booms on telehandlers:

    Forks: useful for transporting pallets and unloading trucks
    Drum handlers or reel handlers
    Spreader bars: for containers
    Buckets: used to transport loose materials such as sand or stones, or for removing rubble and backfill on construction sites
    Work platforms: for lifting workers and tools to work at elevated heights

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