A telehandler or a telescopic handler is a machinery which is well-known within the agriculture and construction industries. These machinery are similar in function and appearance to a lift truck or a forklift but are actually more like a crane rather than a forklift. The telehandler offers increased versatility of a single telescopic boom that can extend upwards as well as forwards from the vehicle. The operator has the ability to attach a lot of attachments on the end of the boom. Some of the most popular attachments include: a muck grab, a bucket, a lift table or pallet forks.
A telehandler typically uses pallet forks as their most common attachment to be able to move loads through locations that are usually unreachable for a typical forklift. For example, telehandlers are able to move loads to and from locations that are not usually reachable by conventional forklift units. These devices could also remove palletized loads from inside a trailer and place these loads in high locations, such as on rooftops for example. Before, this abovementioned situation would require a crane. Cranes could be very pricey to utilize and not always a practical or time-efficient alternative.
Telehandler's are unique in that their advantage is also their biggest drawback: as the boom raises or extends when the equipment is bearing a load, it also acts as a lever and causes the vehicle to become somewhat unstable, despite the counterweights on the rear. This translates to the lifting capacity decreasing quickly as the working radius increases. The working radius is the distance between the center of the load and the front of the wheels.
For instance, a vehicle which has a 5000 lb. capacity with the boom retracted may be able to safely lift just as much as 400 lb. once it is fully extended with a low boom angle. The same unit with a 5000 lb. lift capacity which has the boom retracted might be able to easily support as much as 10,000 pounds with the boom raised up to 70.
England first pioneered the telehandler within Horley, Surrey. The Matbro Company developed these machines from their articulated cross country forestry forklifts. Initially, they had a centrally mounted boom design on the front portion. This placed the cab of the driver on the rear part of the machine, as in the Teleram 40 unit. The rigid chassis design with a rear mounted boom and the cab situated on the side has since become increasingly more famous.