Telehandler - The Brief History

Telehandler The Brief History

The telescopic handler, or telehandler as it is commonly known was originally pioneered by the Matbro company in Horley, UK.

Since this time several other manufacturers including JCB, Manitou, Bobcat, CAT and Merlo have developed telehandlers for a wide range of applications, including agriculture and construction.

Perhaps the most iconic and widely recognised of these is the JCB telehandler.

JCB first made its debut with a telescopic forklift in 1977 with its JCB 520 telehandler model which took the industry by storm.

Since that time it has gone on to produce over 200,000 machines in the UK alone, reaching this milestone in April 2016.

JCB also coined the name ‘Loadall’ for its 520 model, and this name has been widely used in the industry ever since. 

The first Loadall was a two-wheel-drive machine and enabled massively increased versatility to contractors who had previously had to make use of cranes, rough terrain forklifts and backhoe-loaders.  The telehandler combined many of these pieces of equipment into one adaptable machine saving contractors time and money.

Since these early days, several other manufacturers developed telehandlers, including Manitou, CAT, Bobcat, and Merlo.  Telehandlers have also increased in size, and some now boast working heights in excess of 65 ft and lift capacities over 6.5 tons!

Other features that have been introduced are better designed fork carriages, to enable rapid pick-up and detaching of attachments including Forks, buckets, sweepers, jibs etc.

Many telehandlers also now feature different steering options, including 4-way steering, 2 way steering and a crab steering pattern.

Telehandlers are now not only used as forklifts.  Many construction sites now fit buckets to their telehandlers and use them for shifting aggregate etc. 

Another very common use for these machines is for loading salt gritters in the winter time.  Telehandler buckets for salt applications endure a lot of increased stress, as the salt is very abrasive, and also very hard when wet.  It is important that the bucket used has the strength to cope with the application.

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