Rotary and frontal telescopic loaders - differences and application

Forklifts are machines with a very wide range of applications. They can be found at construction sites or in warehouses, but also, for example, in gardening and when installing billboards. They have their place in every work where access to a high place is needed. Additionally, unlike scaffolding, they provide quick and easy access to high-lying spaces.  

Self-propelled telescopic loader

In addition to standard lift trucks, there are also many types of specialised forklifts. These are forklifts which, due to their design, are adapted to perform work where a standard forklift truck would not be able to. One of these is forklift trucks fitted with telescopic handlers. 

The telehandler is a forklift truck with a variable reach. The telehandler's telescopic arm provides the forklift with a very high load capacity, additionally allowing it to carry a load. Telescopic loaders are capable of lifting up to 22 tonnes, making them a very powerful and frequently used type of machine.  

Telescopic loaders are also divided into two subcategories, depending on the range of movement of the forklift's arm. These are: 

  • Rotary telescopic loaders 
  • Straight telescopic handlers 

What are these differences and what is each type of telehandler suitable for? 

Rotary telescopic loaders 

Swivel loaders, are a type of forklift truck in which the cab and telescopic arm also swivel horizontally, thus allowing greater freedom of movement.  

The rotary loader is constructed on the basis of turntable - a module allowing horizontal movement of the arm. This allows the cab of the truck to which the telescopic arm is attached to have a 360-degree movement. This is the main feature that distinguishes this type of machine from a front-end loader. In addition to this, the slewing loader also differs in the supports. In a rotary telehandler, the supports are located both at the front and at the rear. This type of support is necessary due to the fact that the arm of the rotary telehandler, together with the load, loads the machine unevenly. It is also different the way the appliance is controlled, due to the ability to rotate the cab with the operator and arm. 

Telescopic handlers are a very versatile machine, so the number of industries in which they are used is truly impressive. Many different pieces of equipment can be attached to the telescopic mast of such a forklift, making it truly multi-purpose. 

The rotary telehandler can be used for example: 

  • At aircraft maintenance at the airport, 
  • On construction sites, when transporting heavy loads, 
  • In work in urban spaces for the installation and maintenance of billboards, 
  • In horticulture when maintaining hard-to-reach areas, 
  • In rescue, e.g. in fire engines. 

These are, of course, just a few of the situations in which a rotating telescopic loader would work well. Stationary telescopic handlers that are not attached to a moving chassis are also often used. Their use, however, is much broader - it is used virtually anywhere a load or crew needs to be moved and positioned at height. 

The advantage of a rotary telehandler is its range of motion. Thanks to its design, it can carry the load within 360 degrees. It is useful where you need access to hard-to-reach places. Unfortunately, due to its construction, the rotary telehandler is not able to lift a load as heavy as the front one. 

Worker in the cab of a telehandler

Front telescopic loader 

The front telehandler is built and works on a similar principle to a rotary loader. The main difference, however, is that the telescopic arm in this case only moves vertically.  

In the case of telescopic front loader The cab and telescopic arm are rigidly connected to the machine chassis. The telescopic arm cannot move horizontally, which is why front-end loaders only have one pair of front supports. In the case of small loaders with low lifting capacity, there are often no props at all. 

Due to their design, front-end telescopic loaders have a much smaller range of movement than rotary loaders. Their advantage, however, is a much higher load capacity of up to several tens of tonnes. This is why they are used for other types of work, above all those where a heavy load needs to be moved between two locations. A telescopic front end loader can be found, for example: 

  • On the construction site, when transporting heavy loads, 
  • On farms, 
  • In the mining and quarrying industry, 
  • In sawmills when transporting material. 

These telescopic handlers are also used at airports, they are used for towing airplanes. The smaller range of motion compensate for the much higher payload. They can be found in work where a heavy load has to be transported, rather than in workers. 

Permits for telescopic loaders 

In Poland, forklift trucks of all types belong to the equipment covered by technical supervision. This means that in order to operate them, you need a licence issued by the UDT - Office of Technical Inspection. Regardless of whether you are operating a rotary or front-end telescopic loader, you need the same type of authorisation, i.e. for specialised forklift trucks.

The current eligibility categories are: 

  1. The higher category covers mechanically-powered stacker trucks, including those with variable reach and the ability to lift a person with a load (old WJO Category I). This category also authorises the operation of all other types of forklift trucks in the lower category. 
  1. The lower category includes powered stacker trucks, excluding those with variable reach and without the ability to lift persons with load (old category II and III WJO). 

To obtain qualifications for telescopic loaders, you must complete the course and pass the exam before the UDT commission.  

Forklift course it consists of two parts: theoretical and practical. In the theoretical part, students receive information on the safe and efficient operation of forklifts in the category of their choice. Then, in the practical part of the forklift truck course, they have the opportunity to practice the knowledge given to them in the theoretical part and prepare for the final exam. 

The exam, like the course, consists of two parts: theoretical and practical. In the theoretical part, the trainees answer a set of open and closed questions designed to test their knowledge regarding the safe operation of forklift trucks, including telescopic handlers and front-end loaders. Then, in the practical part, they must correctly perform a number of forklift operation tasks in front of a jury. A positive result in both parts of the exam ensures that the trainees are properly authorised to use rotary and front telescopic handlers. 

The course on telescopic handlers can be done by practically anyone who is interested in expanding their professional competences. It is enough to meet a few basic conditions: 

  • Be at least 18 years of age, 
  • Have at least primary education, 
  • Have no medical contraindications. 

The length of the course depends on the level of the students. For people who are just learning how to use telescopic handlers, such training can take up to several dozen hours. In the case of people who only refresh their permits, it lasts one day and ends with an examination taken the same day. 

The price of a telescopic loader 

Both rotary and frontal telehandlers are expensive machines. Their prices start from around 100,000,000 for small-sized devices. They belong to the devices in the higher price category, so you should carefully consider whether the work requires the use of a telehandler. 

Load carrier

For shorter jobs, telescopic loader hire is a good choice. There are currently a large number of companies in Poland providing rental of machines under technical supervision, including telehandlers and front-end loaders.  

People willing to acquire the license to operate telescopic loaders feel free to contact us with our company. We offer courses conducted by high-class trainers who will prepare you or your employees to pass the UDT exam. 

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