What Is A Telehandler?

A forklift, also known as a telehandler or telescopic handler, is a versatile lifting machine used mostly in the construction industry.

Telescoping arms may raise weights and extend and retract to adjust the machine’s maximum reach and lifting height. Their primary use is to lift pallet boards, but they can also transfer large things to inaccessible areas.

For the most part, modern telehandler forklifts have a range of features that help them perform better in a variety of tasks. The majority have a telescoping boom that, depending on the job, may handle a variety of lifting attachments and equipment.

They also contain features that make them suitable for a wide range of terrains and scenarios, boosting their versatility and supporting workers in a wide range of industries in executing on-site processes swiftly, safely, and efficiently.

Most equipment can perform the roles of forklifts, cranes, and elevated work platforms (by attaching a platform to the telehandler boom). This is made possible by a design feature known as a ‘rapid hitch,’ which allows the operator to swap from one attachment to the next swiftly and safely.

This cuts down on the time and effort it takes to transport large goods, as well as the time it takes to execute large operations that would ordinarily require a lot of equipment.

Types Of Telehandler

There are several types of telehandlers, all being suitable for different purposes in the construction industry. 

Fixed Telehandler

A fixed telehandler has a fixed cab and a telescopic boom. The equipment is incredibly sturdy. Even though the cab cannot swivel, this type of telehandler is best used when carrying extremely large goods.

Rotating Telehandler

A rotating telehandler features a telescopic boom and a 360-degree rotating cab. The equipment remains stationary while the cab and boom rotate along the axis, allowing for more maneuverability and access to difficult-to-reach areas.

Compact Telehandler

Compact variations are smaller and more versatile. They are capable of lifting and transporting large loads throughout the construction site.

They combine the power and reach of a telehandler with the capabilities of a regular forklift. There are various types of miniature telehandlers available, each with its own set of pros and limitations, as well as accessories.

How Much Weight Can A Telehandler Support?

Telehandlers are created in a variety of ways, so each one is built to lift a load that is appropriate for its size. The larger a telehandler is, the heavier the loads it can lift, and extreme models are available for the heaviest loads. The maximum lift capacity of standard models range from 4,400 lbs (2,000 kg) to 12,000 lbs (5,445 kg).

You won’t be able to lift a load that exceeds the telehandler’s maximum lift capacity all the way to the reach/height limit. This is likely to put the equipment under unnecessary strain, resulting in more accidents and damage.

To lift varying loads, each telehandler will come with its unique set of instructions, so be sure to follow them. These regulations were developed after considerable testing and provide the safest way to operate this machinery. 

Telehandler Attachments

Telehandler attachments exist in a range of shapes and sizes, with each one designed for a specific job. Many are industry-specific. It’s not always clear which attachment is the greatest fit for the job.

Consider the specifications of the project you’re working on, as well as the outcomes you want to achieve at the end. Quality telehandler models will emphasise durability and versatility, as well as a large range of attachments to ensure that no job is too difficult to complete.

Keep in mind that even the attachments used on Telehandlers and forklifts have to follow the strict guidelines set out by OSHA.

Crane Jib Attachments

The crane jib is another common telehandler forklift accessory. It transforms your machine into a crane for picking and carrying, lifting extremely big goods, and transporting them around a place where regular forklifts are either prohibited or incapable.

Using a telehandler instead of bringing in a large crane can be more efficient and effective, but you must assess this on a site-by-site basis.

Buckets are arguably the best way to lift and move loose items such as sand, water, or anything else that is likely to fall. These may be fastened and lifted using the crane jib attachment on your telehandler forklift, which will help prevent spillage while lifting these types of heavy loads.

Fork Carriage

This attachment transforms the telehandler into a multi-functioning machine that can carry a wide range of items such as:

  • Timber
  • Steel
  • Packages goods
  • Pallets
  • Concrete blocks
  • Industrial pipes

Hydraulic Functions Of A Telehandler

A telehandler can typically perform 6 hydraulic operations. They are:

  1. Frame leveling – this is useful as it levels the telehandler if it is on an unstable or uneven surface
  2. Boom lift up/down – moves the telescopic boom
  3. Steering – covers the 3 steering types found on these machines
  4. Boom extend/retract – moves the telescopic boom
  5. Stabilizers up/down – controls the stabilizers 
  6. Tilt fork up/down – tilt the fork backward and forwards

Telehandler Key Words

Throughout this article, we have mentioned several phrases that you may not completely understand. Here are some common terms you will encounter when using a telehandler. 

  • Forward reach – The greatest forward extension of most smaller telehandlers is roughly 10 feet. Larger versions, on the other hand, can extend to 45 feet in length, which can be extremely handy in certain scenarios.
  • Turning radius – It’s all about the telehandler’s dexterity in this situation. Compact variants are frequently easier to maneuver due to their modest size. The turning radius is critical when selecting whether the equipment is appropriate for your work environment.
  • Steering modes – there are typically 3 steering modes on telehandlers, crab wheel, standard/front wheel, and all-wheel/4-wheel


When selecting the right type of telehandler for you, keep a few key factors in mind. Different types of telehandlers are better suited to different types of work and industries.

Determine your criteria and the type of telehandler that will best meet them. There is a wealth of information on the internet to help you make your decision, and a knowledgeable dealer can advise you on what will work best for you.

Ryan Genkin
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