There are many machines on the market which are very versatile and have applications in various sectors of industry and agriculture. Telescopic handlers are among these machines. Have you ever wondered what they look like, what they are used for or what requirements must be met in order to operate them? If so, this article will answer all these questions and more.


What type of equipment are telehandlers and what are they used for?

They are work machines that belong to the category of specialised forklifts. Telescopic handlers are characterised by the ability to perform many different tasks. They are used to lift, carry and place materials at a specific height. Their work can replace several other machines: excavator, lift, forklift or crane, and this translates into their efficiency. They are used in agriculture, in the construction and timber industries, in municipal works and in sea ports for loading and unloading containers. Telescopic handlers are also useful when transporting heavy materials, such as steel structures, concrete elements, wood, stones, earth and any loose materials.


Types of telehandlers

Within the basic division of telehandlers, we distinguish between:

  • Rotary loaders - have a swivel head in their design which allows the operator's cab to rotate 360 degrees. Their advantage is a high maximum load lifting height.
  • Front loaders - have the boom located on the right-hand side. In this case, the operator's cab is not movable, but this translates into a high lifting capacity of the machine.

In addition to the above division, we can distinguish between types of telehandlers by other characteristics (body and chassis design, type of drive, method of reversing).

Body and chassis construction:

  • rigid-frame or articulated wheeled chassis;
  • a swivel or non-swivel body.

Drive type of the driving unit:

  • hydrostatic-mechanical;
  • hydrokinetic-mechanical.

Method of changing direction of travel:

  • steering on all four wheels;
  • steering with the front wheels only;
  • steering by means of so-called crab steering (enables the machine to be steered diagonally).


Telescopic handler design and its functionality

The telehandler allows high lift and high lift capacity at the same time. It owes its stability to lateral stabilising supports, which place the centre of gravity at a suitable distance from the front of the machine. To distribute the load appropriately, it must be raised or lowered as required. The machine has four-wheel drive, which makes it easy to work even on uneven ground; the loader's axles are then levelled. Like all machines of this type, it also has a cab where the operator controls the entire machine. It is important to note that the loader cab can rotate 360 degrees. It has a telescopic arm that can raise, lower and extend to different lengths and heights. The forks that move up and down also play an important role. The design of the telehandler allows movement not only forwards and backwards, but also diagonally.

Telescopic handlers can be fitted with additional attachments such as:

  • pallet forks,
  • loader buckets,
  • bale grippers,
  • lawn mowers,
  • sweepers,
  • working platforms,
  • booms, e.g. trussed booms,
  • ploughs,
  • cultivation units,
  • seed drills and other implements for agricultural tasks.


Regulation of telehandlers

Due to its construction, a telehandler is subject to two types of regulations relating to its use. Firstly, it is a construction machine, so it falls under the Technical Inspection Office. Secondly, it is a piece of equipment designed to be driven on public roads, and is therefore subject to the Highway Code. It can be treated as a slow-moving machine or an agricultural tractor, which already has a place for the registration plate.

The operation of telehandlers is regulated by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 7 December 2012 on the types of technical devices subject to technical supervision (Journal of Laws No. 122, item 1321, as amended) - the principles of technical supervision are defined here (§ 1(6)(L)).

In addition, this device is subject to supervision as a result of the Ordinance of the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology of 21 May 2019 on the manner and procedure for verifying the qualifications required for the operation and maintenance of technical devices and the manner and procedure for extending the validity of qualification certificates (Journal of Laws 2019.1008). This, in turn, results in the operator having to be appropriately qualified to operate it.


Safe operation and testing

Each time before starting work, the operator's task is to check the technical condition and operation of the steering and braking systems of the device. When a person comes into contact with a new machine for the first time, it is necessary to understand its properties depending on the type and model. Each machine must be equipped with instructions for proper operation and be able to lower it in an emergency but safe way in the event of an emergency. During work, it is important to keep an eye on the weight of the transported materials so as not to exceed the maximum load of the loader, which depends on its type. The operator must constantly monitor the load being transported in order to control its stability. While driving, the distance between the implement and the ground must not be less than 30 cm, and the driving speed should be adjusted to the place and working conditions. After finishing work, the operator's task is to safely set the loader in the designated place, it is important that the attachment is resting on the ground and not raised high.

Telescopic handlers are subject to full technical supervision and testing:

  • receiving,
  • periodic,
  • ad hoc.


authorisation to operate telescopic handlers

In order to be able to take the qualification examination at all, you must first take a specialist course. It is open to people who have reached the age of eighteen, have a minimum basic education and do not show any health contraindications, which are verified during medical examinations. The aim of the training is to prepare the candidates for properly performed work in the future. During the theoretical classes, the trainee learns the types and construction of a telescopic handler, technical inspection regulations, the basics of loads and their transport, the construction and operation of gas cylinders, as well as health and safety regulations at the workplace. During the practical part, the instructors not only teach how to maneuver the device, but also all activities performed by the operator before, during and after work.

When the trainee has completed the training, he or she is directed to take an examination before a board of the Office of Technical Inspection. This is a relatively demanding exam that thoroughly checks the knowledge acquired during the course. It consists of a theoretical part in the form of a test with closed questions and a practical part on a manoeuvring area.

After passing the exam, qualifications are granted in the category for specialized trolleys, enabling the operation of a telescopic handler. This is the widest category of permissions, as it also authorizes you to operate other industrial trucks, e.g. forklifts. Qualification UDT for this type of machine, unlike others, are granted indefinitely.


Telescopic loaders or forklifts - market trends

Forklift trucks are very widely used machines in industry and training in their operation is extremely popular. However, as mentioned above, the qualifications for telescopic handlers also allow you to control forklifts. More importantly, employers are increasingly switching from forklifts to telescopic loaders, as they allow for greater flexibility and scope of work. Therefore, it is worth investing in a course in the field of chargers, although it may be more expensive.