What makes a good telehandler bucket?
We have seen a massive trend in recent months and years for telehandlers to be fitted with buckets to increase their versatility on construction sites, but we have also noticed that many operators or plant hire companies don't fully recognise that different applications may require different features in order to maximise the life of your bucket, and also make your operation as efficient as possible.
Structural Design of Telehandler Bucket:
The first point to consider is the structural design of the telehandler bucket. Some of the points you need to look out for are as follows:
What is the thickness of the steel used in the bucket?
You would assume this goes without saying, but even on this point it requires a bit of explanation. As a general rule, we would say that a thicker steel is better, and this particularly applies to the bucket of the bucket, as this is the part that takes the most strain when driving into a pile of aggregate etc.
But that said, if you are mainly handling light materials such as grain and some types of waste then a lighter shell design might be better as it allows the bucket to be made larger without impeding on the weight limit of the telehandler.
Likewise, even on smaller buckets, you have to have a trade-off between the weight limit of the machine and the amount of material you are wanting to move on one pass.
Are any parts of the bucket made from hardened or heat treated steel?
Another important consideration is whether the bucket contains any parts which made from hardened steel.
Of particular importance is the material that the lip plate of the bucket is made from. All buckets we supply are fitted with a hardened lip plate which is heat treated to 400HB (Hardness Brinell) because this is the first part of the bucket which engages with any material and is often used for scraping the ground. Using a harder material ensures that the lifetime of the bucket is maximised.
Does the bucket have any additional wear protection?
Some areas of the bucket have greater engagement with the ground and are therefore more susceptible to wear so it is important to review these areas carefully and see what additional wear resistance is fitted.
2 examples of high wear points are shown in the images below:
The image on the right shows the additional wear straps and heel blocks fitted on a Rhinox Telehandler bucket. These plates protect the bucket as it rubs along the ground, massively increasing the wear resistance of the bucket.
The image on the left shows the front corner of a Rhinox telehandler bucket, with the additional wear gusset. The front corner often takes the brunt of the force when digging into a pile of aggregate, and also faces a lot of wear, so these corner gussets increase the strength of the corner and also provide greater wear resistance.
Not every bucket manufacturer takes the time to fit these extra wear protection, and as a result, the bucket wears out a lot faster.
Can the bucket be fitted with a Bolt-on Underblade?
A lot of our customers opt to fit their telehandler buckets with an extra bolt-on underblade. These are a double edge, to allow them to be turned once the leading edge is worn, and provide additional wear.
We would particularly recommend this for high wear / abrasive materials applications such as sand, salt, recycling etc. I'll touch more on this further in this post.
Can the bucket be fitted with Bucket Teeth?
Whilst this is relatively rare, especially in the UK, some recent experiences made us think it worthy of being included in this post.
Some applications that telehandlers are used on now require the shifting of very compact materials and in these situations, we would recommend that the telehandler is fitted with bucket teeth.
The point I make here is that most UK manufacturers don't drill the telehandler blade to accept teeth, so it is not easily done.
All our Rhinox telehandler buckets are drilled to accept bolt-on wear blades or bucket teeth, which it makes it easy for this to be done straight from the factory.
I'll cover off more details and specifics later in this post as to where it is advisable to use teeth on the bucket.
What is the right telehandler bucket for my application?
As mentioned right at the start of this post, telehandlers are increasingly being used in a wide variety of applications which traditionally were undertaken by a wheeled loader or loading shovel.
Whilst this isn't necessarily a bad idea, it is important to understand some key challenges presented by some specific applications and what features are important to each one.
Each of these scenarios is a specific challenge we have worked with over the years.
This is perhaps the most aggressive application we have encountered, and the reason for this is that when salt gets wet it solidifies and goes extremely hard.
For this reason, we recommend a couple of things when considering purchasing a bucket. The first is that you fit the bucket with teeth - this helps penetrate the salt and break it up for loading.
The first is that you fit the bucket with teeth - this helps penetrate the salt and break it up for loading.
The second is to consider the thickness of the back shell of the bucket. Because the telehandler will be driving very hard into a very solid pile, it puts a lot of strain on the back of the bucket. If you want to maximise the life of your bucket, we have developed a special bucket specifically for this application with a very upgraded bucket shell to cope with the strain. Call our sales team on 01430 828945 for more details.
Tarmac / Loading Hotboxes
SPS supply a lot of buckets for loading and handling of tarmac into hotboxes. The only reason that I mention this as a special item is that often the hotboxes require a bucket which is narrower than a standard telehandler bucket.
SPS have manufactured a lot of telehandler buckets specifically for this application, usually at a width of 60" to facilite easy loading.
Contact our sales team on 01430 828945 for more information.
Concrete Batching Plants
I have mentioned concrete batching plants specifically, as we have seen a big increase in the use of telehandler in these applications, where traditionally a wheeled loader or loading shovel would have been used.
Whilst the machine is capable of doing this operation, typically the bucket will be subject to frequent high load use in an abrasive environment, so we would recommend using a heavy duty bucket developed to cope with this application.
Contact our sales team on 01430 828945 to discuss your requirements further.
Grain handling deserves a mention, as it is a very common use for a telehandler in the agricultural arena.
Because grain is usually lighter than aggregate, machines can often be fitted with a larger capacity bucket, but special attention needs to be given to the design of the bucket to get the optimum trade-off between weight of the bucket and the weight of the material being moved so that these factors are matched to the capacity of the machine.
Recycling Plants / Waste Rehandling
Our final application here is waste recycling plants. The reason I mention this here is that often buckets used in this situation are used for scraping along the ground which subjects the lip plate to excessive wear. We would recommend that you fit a bolt-on hardened steel under-blade for this application to maximise the life of your bucket.
We hope this post helps direct you when you next need to purchase a telehandler bucket, and if you have any specific questions or comments we would be glad to hear them in the comments box below.
Thanks for reading.