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A KEANE EYE: Every home should have one

You want reach – tick (that was easy – telescopic means reach by definition).You want mobility – tick. A telescopic handler is as mobile as a backhoe, with some capable of 40km per hour at top speed. They are best trailered between jobs, but can stretch their legs round town if required. However, the mobility is most useful around a large site.You want good sight lines from the cab – tick. The telescopic handler arguably provides its operator with the best view of the work area of any type of equipment on the market.You want manoeuvrability – tick. With four-wheel steer and a relatively short wheelbase, the telescopic handler can get into most places. Crab steer makes it even better.You want good off-road performance – tick. With 4WD, large wheel diameter and good ground clearance, a telescopic handler is better than most machines when the going gets sloppy.You want an easy access cab – tick. The guy who came up with the idea of hanging the power pack down low on one side of the boom and the cab on the other side was a genius. You can step in and out of a non-slew telescopic handler all day. But if you definitely must have a slewing machine, there are a few manufacturers who can help you out.You want serviceability – tick (because the mechanicals are down low and on the side, where you can get at them from ground level).You want to be able to use a wide range of attachments – tick. Almost everything that a skid steer or mini excavator can handle, a telescopic handler can handle. And then you’ve got their core materials handler capabilities, and the scope to develop specialist attachments for particular applications because the platform is mobile, has excellent reach and … (see all the ticks above).It looks as though the telescopic handler has collected more ticks than a bushwalker, and it has. That might be what scares people off – it is so versatile that it is hard to categorise – because I don’t believe that, even now, the telescopic handler market in Australia has reached anything like saturation.That is not to say that people have not been trying to stretch the boundaries. The major suppliers have done a lot of work in developing machines (where they did not comply) to meet new Australian standards that are arguably the most demanding in the world.Applications in underground mining, and as a high capacity rough terrain man platform, are being exploited locally but there are many other potential applications – in part because the base machine ticks so many boxes.Being a relatively young machine, the telescopic handler has not buried itself in a rut, and the leading manufacturers such as Dieci, Manitou, Merlo and JCB are continuing to innovate.The size range of the telescopic handler category is another reflection of the versatility of these machines. At the compact end, machines that fit within a 2m hight/2m width envelope are now offered by most manufacturers, and are light and compact enough to work on a suspended slab. At the upper end, these machines have applications in the mining industry with tyre handler attachments, with the added benefit that they can change attachments and take on materials handling applications if required. Yep, if I was to pick a single machine to go into battle with to stay busy over the next year, I think a telehandler would be at the top of the list.

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