Though the telehandler was introduced long back to the Indian market, it still remains a new concept, probably, due to the high cost and lack of awareness among the user industry. Agith G Antony finds out the details.
In developed countries telehandlers have become very popular in the construction industry as these machines are powerful, and with a host of attachments the machine becomes really versatile and practical; also it is readily available as the number of manufacturers and models has exploded over the past five years or so. Although the telehandler is a relatively new concept machine in relation to other construction equipment, it is widely used in the US and Europe. The number of new telehandlers sold in the last five years in these areas is given in the table.
As you can see due to the financial crisis which hit in the early 2008, the quantities of new machine sales came down dramatically in subsequent years. The market for telehandlers in the Middle East and BRIC countries is still in a developing stage. In the Middle East the markets are a little more developed than India, especially in the GCC countries, the UAE in particular. "The market in Saudi Arabia and most of the Middle East (probably with the exception of the UAE) is still in an infant stage of development as far as telehandlers as concerned. We have similar challenges over here too," says Srini Kadaba, General Manager, Snorkel Access India.
In Europe and in the US the telehandler is extensively used in housing construction as they mainly are two and three storey structures, where the telehandler is ideal to lift construction material to the required floor level. The machine has to generally be positioned a little away from the side of the building that is being constructed, which means the load needs to be telescoped into the work site. A standard rough terrain fork lift truck would not be able to do the job as this machine can lift only vertically up with no forward reach.
The machines are also used in the agricultural sector in the US and Europe; this may probably never be used in agriculture sector in India. "The main area where telehandlers are used in Europe and in the US is in housing construction. I do not see a similar trend in India as most housing in urban India is now in the form of multi-storey buildings, where telehandlers have limited applications," says Srini.
A telehandler is quite a different machine. You could think of a telehandler as a fusion of a fork lift truck and a mobile crane. It is designed to handle palletised loads but unlike a conventional fork lift truck where a palletised load can be lifted only vertically straight up (along a mast), a telehandler has also a forward reach. The carriage (where the forks are fitted) is mounted at the end of a boom which can be lifted up and down (derricked) as well as telescoped in and out (which gives the forward reach).
"Telehandlers are essentially multi-utility vehicles and therefore need to be marketed in that manner. For the Indian market, it is presently in the concept sales stage. These are to be sold as application oriented solutions and each telehandler can be used for different applications with the help of a variety of attachments, says Rajinder Raina, General Manager (Marketing), Escorts.
As per sources from Terex Genie, telehandlers are versatile pieces of equipment that are designed to be used for a wide range of tasks. Compact telehandlers such as the GTH-2506 for example can be used indoors because of their light weight and narrow dimensions (4,450 kg - 1.81 x wide x 1.92 m height). They can easily work inside where no other telehandler can go. In addition, thanks to a tight turning radius the Genie GTH-2506 is extremely manoeuvrable and can work in tight and congested areas. Compact telehandlers such as the GTH-2506 are suited to working areas such as city centre developments or demolition projects. Being able to access restricted spaces as well as operating inside buildings and containers or being lifted for work in high-rise situations is a major benefit.
In a telehandler the operator does not have to determine the load for every lift like in a pick and carry crane. Since the load is picked up on the forks, a load greater than the lift capacity of the machine cannot be picked up as the hydraulic pressure relief valve will blow when it reaches the maximum systems pressure. Also telehandler is equipped with an LMI (Load Moment Indicator) with an automatic cut out which will prevent the load being telescoped out after it has been picked up, if the load is greater than the designed capacity of the machine at a given outreach. Technically the LMI continuously compares the actual load with the designed load and if it exceeds the capacity it will prevent the operator getting into an unsafe condition. So it will also prevent the boom being lowered (as that increases the load radius) if the load is greater than the machine capacity. The boom would have to be retracted in before lowering to keep it within its designed load moment.
According to inputs Genie telehandlers are equipped with longitudinal stability control system with visible display and load moment indicator with LEDs, audible alarm, automatic lock-out of boom extension and lowering; automatic lock-out of stabilisers and rear axle; automatic lock-out of boom suspended loads (GTH-6025ER); a range of motion corresponding to the attachment installed can be easily selected; and moreover, all functions of the attachment, depending on the model, are controlled by a touch pad.
The telehandler machine is a new concept in India, so not many people know about it. Some of this has to do with the industry practice. In India the articulated pick and carry crane still dominates the lifting industry and has been used in a number of applications where a telehandler, as per experts' views, will be a lot more efficient. Similarly, in the logistics sector, especially palletised load handling, forklifts trucks dominates the market, where as a telehandler is a fusion of a forklift truck and a crane providing both vertical and forward reach. However, because of the relatively low price of these cranes, machines like telehandlers have not been able to make any inroads in India; though the telehandler was introduced long ago in the Indian market, it still remains a new concept, maybe, due to the lack of awareness among the user industry.
Says Rajinder, "The lack of awareness about the utility of telehandlers has resulted in low demand so far. The primary job for Escorts is to customise the telehandlers along with attachments specific for the application, so as to deliver full value to the customer. Our performance so far shows that we are on the right track." He further adds "Escorts has tied up with Manitou for telehandlers and aerial work platforms for all applications barring mining. The entire range of Manitou products along with attachments is on offer in the Indian market. Manitou is a global leader in telehandlers and in the very first year of our tie-up, we have emerged as the market leaders. The unmatched deliverables and top-end safety features have exceeded the customer expectations with Escorts providing excellent after support even in the north-east, J&K and far- flung areas of Himachal."
According to Srini, the articulated pick and carry crane has become a very popular piece of equipment on construction sites as well as industrial applications in India. The disadvantage with the articulated pick and carry crane is that the load has to be slung from a hook which in many instances is an inefficient way of handling (such as palletised loads). It is slow and cumbersome and can also be unsafe if the crane has to traverse over inclined ground as the load could sway outside the centre of gravity of the machine.
Says Srini, "Two areas that are sadly neglected in India are safety and productivity. As long as poor safety condition on work sites and low productivity is tolerated, machines such as telehandlers will always be considered 'too expensive' to use." He further adds, "Another factor is the proliferation of the use of the articulated pick and carry crane in India. Although this cannot be termed as a hurdle, the fact is that these cranes have been used so extensively and for such a long time that the industry practice has now evolved around these cranes. The volume of cranes manufactured and sold in India is so large that the unit cost of these machines is very low, which acts as an entry barrier for more productive and safer machines like telehandlers which are more expensive.
Does the entry of telehandlers adversely impact the sale of the articulated pick-n-carry cranes that has been dominating the lifting industry? Rajinder says, "It will certainly not affect the existing range of crane offerings in the market. Given their utility, telehandlers are creating a niche market, a separate domain, for themselves, which is bound to witness a decent growth."
The market for rental of construction equipment has been growing rapidly in the Middle East. This has increased even more so recently by the entry of a number of European rental companies who have seen their domestic markets shrink after the financial crisis. The Middle East is one area of the world where the economy of most countries is growing, points out Srini. He further adds, "In India too, the availability of machines on rental will spur the growth of the use of telehandlers, albeit to a lesser extent than the rest of the world for reasons mentioned earlier."
Rajinder says, "Handling palletised loads is just one of the multiple applications and not a major one at that. Given the price of the equipment, it will get sold mostly where multiple attachments are used or for some very specialised application. There is a wide range of attachments available and customisation is also offered. Forks, man basket, crane hooks, loaders, rib erectors, tyre handlers, are some of them." Construction companies want their equipment to be versatile. It is not uncommon for a telehandler to be used with a hydraulic jib, a bucket and a man-platform, all in the same day. Genie offers a wide range of attachments.
Speaking about the importance of training Srini says, "Like any other piece of machinery an operator must be trained on a telehandler before he starts using the machine. This is true for any piece of equipment. The training on a telehandler is not as complicated as say a mobile crane."
Rajinder sums up the sitution on with a positive note. "There are challenges but not hurdles. Being a high-value product coupled with low awareness, it is for the manufacturers to develop the market. With foreign players coming in various segments, it will be that much easier to overcome the hurdles."
GENIE PRODUCT RANGE
Genie offers three types of telehandlers: Compact (fixed), Hi-Reach (fixed) and Rotating telehandlers. Compact telehandlers meet the need of most building, refurbishment, masonry, landscape, industrial jobs. The compact models easily find versatile uses and provide high utilisation. With infinitely variable hydrostatic transmission and four-wheel drive, three steering modes, including front wheel, coordinated steer and crab steer.
The high reach rough terrain telehandlers help increase productivity on jobsites ranging from new construction and multi-storey buildings to masonry. Powerful features such as four-wheel drive and a turbocharged diesel engine provide reliable performance in the most rugged conditions. Easy to use multi-function joystick provides fast, precise positioning of the boom and forks.
Genie rotating rough terrain telehandlers have the reach and performance capabilities for challenging jobs. They are ideal for rough dirty tasks where high lifting capacity and outreach is required. They provide excellent lifting capacity and great horizontal outreach even without deploying stabilisers, so you can easily move substantial loads like steel, masonry and bricks across the worksite.
The turntable allows fast and precise positioning; simple, logical controls.
GTH-4016SR & GTH-4018SR rotating models - An easy to use multi-function proportional joystick provides fast and precise positioning for ease of operation and minimal operator effort with hand movement. A second joystick on the left side allows the turntable to rotate separately from the other movements.
Other features: Engines are side-mounted to allow easy access to components for increased uptime. Part commonality and no-tool access to direct service points make Genie telehandlers easy to service and manage.
The cabs offer excellent visibility.