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What Is a Telehandler?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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A telehandler is a construction vehicle made to lift items and heavy weights, and it often is a hybrid of the crane and forklift in terms of abilities and size. The main feature of the telehandler is its boom, which is capable of equipping attachments for further uses. By using the right extension and lifting angle, an operator can double or triple a telehandler’s maximum lifting weight while remaining safe. At the same time, if the arm is incorrectly used, the lifting weight can be drastically cut and the machine may tip over.

The telehandler vehicle is shown to have traits of both a crane and a forklift, though it tends to more closely resemble the former. It is like a crane because it has a large arm that can extend to reach high places. At the same time, it is like a forklift because it is made to pick up heavy equipment or items, and its arm looks similar to the end of a forklift.

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Aside from its long arm, the most defining aspect of a telehandler is its boom. The boom itself is able to pick up and carry items, but it can do much more than this, which makes this machine very versatile. Many different attachments can be placed on the boom, allowing it to perform different tasks. For example, there is a bucket that a person can fit into, a fork or table that can be used to easily lift items, or a safety cage that is like the bucket but larger.

Another benefit of the telehandler is its ability to take advantage of angle and physics. For example, if the operator correctly positions the arm’s angle and reach, then he can double or triple how much the machine can safely hold without tipping. Having items lifted at a high angle without the arm being fully extended normally will increase the carrying weight.

At the same time, this trait can become a safety hazard if done incorrectly. For example, if someone is lifted at a low angle, this can drastically decrease how much the telehandler is able to hold. This hazard, which may cause the machine to tip and be destroyed — along with injuring the operator and any passengers — means there usually are safety features in place. The most common feature is a shutoff function that causes the machine to ignore commands if it puts the operator and machine at risk.

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