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Rotating Telehandlers: A Unique Equipment Solution

Blog Posts - Jan 22

Rotating Telehandlers: A Unique Equipment Solution

Rogerio dos Santos
VP of Strategy & Portfolio Management
JLG Industries

Telehandlers have long been a staple on U.S. construction sites, primarily used for pick-and-carry tasks like loading and unloading trucks. Many manufacturers, including JLG®, have pushed the traditional thinking of this type of equipment by introducing higher reaching models to increase their use in pick-and-place applications, like setting HVAC units into place on rooftops or lifting drywall panels into a high-rise renovation project, eight stories up.

At A Glance Rotary Telehandlers

But anything that needs to be placed higher than 75-ft, U.S. contractors will oftentimes use a crane, or for lighter-weight materials using pipe racks or panel carriers, an aerial work platform (AWP), also known as a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP). These machines may or may not be as efficient depending on the job to be done.

With cranes, these machines may offer heavy lifting capacities, but because many job sites today are smaller and closed in, it’s hard to maneuver them in space-restricted areas due to their bigger footprints.

With AWPs (including scissor lifts and articulated and telescopic boom lifts) they may offer a more compact footprint, ideal for overhead work in dense, urban markets, but may not have the lift capacity needed to place heavier loads at height.

In these situations, what contractors need is a heavy-lifting machine with a smaller, more compact footprint — but many don’t realize that there is a third equipment option available to use: A rotating telehandler.

What is a rotating telehandler?

Rotating, also known as rotary telehandlers (or, as they are called in Europe, “rotos”) offer a unique solution to two very specific job site scenarios: 1) material placement in confined areas where space needed for crane usage is at a high premium, 2) lightweight material delivery to an at height work area that is beyond the reach of traditional telehandlers.

Different from traditional telehandlers where the cab and boom are fixed to the machine’s chassis, rotary telehandlers have two distinct elements: 1) A lower section that includes the wheels and chassis, as well as critical machine components like the engine and fuel/hydraulic tanks; and 2) an upper section with the operator’s cab and boom that spins on a bearing. This enables the machine to continuously rotate a full 360 degrees from a fixed position.

Because of this unique design, rotating telehandlers can literally pick-and-place loads in a complete circle around the machine, without the whole machine having to move.

It is important to note here that, the load charts for these types of telehandlers are quite different from traditional models because of their rotational design. For example, on fixed-boom telehandlers load charts, the reference point is centered on the front tire of the machine. On rotary models, the load charts are in reference to the center of the rotation bearing. Before using a rotary telehandler, operators should always carefully review the machine’s load chart to make sure they fully understand the machine’s capacity. And during operation, technology aids integrated into these machines’ functions, like load moment indicators, can further assist operators in the safe and proper use of these machines.

How are rotating telehandlers used?

Compared to using a fixed-boom telehandler, with rotos the process of picking and placing materials is different. For example, using a traditional model, operators would pick up the material from one spot and drive it into position in another spot before being able to place it where it’ll be used.

With a rotating telehandler, however, the machine is typically driven onsite and set-up in position before work even begins. During operation, the operator simply rotates the boom around to both pick and place the materials. There is no additional driving or repositioning required to stage the materials, which speeds up production cycle times and increases efficiencies when the machine is being used in smaller or confined areas — especially on congested job sites in larger cities or in urban settings where space is restricted.

Because of the unique features and benefits of these types of machines, rotating telehandlers can be used in a wide variety of industries and applications, including commercial construction, renovation, masonry, roofing, demolition, cladding, tunnelling, bridgework, facility and industrial maintenance, as well as shipyards and ports.

Why chose a rotary telehandler?

What early adopters in the U.S. found, and increasingly more contractors are catching on to, is that the possibilities of using rotating telehandlers are limitless because of these machines’ ability to utilize a range of attachments. Similar to a traditional telehandler, rotos utilize attachments to lift and extend loads into position, but these machines offer the added benefit of being able to rotate loads into place too. Equipped with these different attachments means that operators get the versatility of having three machines in one: A telehandler, a crane and a MEWP.

Common attachments for these types of telehandlers are work platforms (commonly referred to as man baskets), crane jibs and winches, standard and rotating carriages, forks, buckets, truss booms and coupler-mounted hooks.

As the benefits of rotating telehandlers become better understood by contractors, we expect to see an acceleration in the adoption, and an increase in use, of rotos in across North America.

Does JLG offer rotating telehandlers?

In September 2021, JLG announced that it was going to partner with Italian-manufacturer Dieci, a like-minded innovator, to develop its line of rotary telehandlers for North America, coming to market in early 2022.

At launch, JLG will offer three models with lift heights ranging from 67.3- to 97.1-ft and lift capacities up to 13,200-lbs. Because much of the North American market for rotos is concentrated between 11,000 and 13,000-lbs and 50-ft to 130-ft, these new JLG rotating models fall within the spectrum of what users are looking for.

Key features of these new JLG rotary telehandlers will include (but are not limited to):

  • Continuous rotation of upper frame to allow both horizontal and vertical lift and place capabilities
  • Multi-section booms to support higher reach and greater lift capacities
  • Advanced technology and features like LMIS to prevent overloading the machine, attachment recognition that automatically loads the appropriate load chart and keeps the operator within the limits of the machine and ClearSky® telematics
  • JLG-backed warranty, parts and service expertise with US-based parts distribution for quick delivery and service

And at the time of launch, this new line of JLG rotos will be available with 13 unique attachments for increased versatility.

Learn more about JLG rotary telehandlers here.

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