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What’s the Difference Between Telehandlers and Forklifts?

What’s the Difference Between Telehandlers and Forklifts?

In the lift and rigging industry, even the tiniest differences between two tools can make a huge impact on their designated use. But what exactly makes a telehandler different from a forklift, and how do you know when to use which? Let’s break down the features, benefits, and uses of each to find out.

Operational Curve

They might look the same and even perform tasks that seem similar from a distance, but forklifts and telehandlers are completely different machines. Therefore, operating them requires a unique set of practices and protocols. Forklifts work vertically, whereas telehandlers have a more versatile move set. Telehandlers can reach farther and higher, which means operators have to pay careful attention to weight distributions in order to maintain balance at all times. 

Tool Attachments 

With a forklift, what you see is what you get. These machines move vertically so operators can lift and lower loads as needed. Telehandlers, on the other hand, have booms that support a variety of attachments –– which then supports a variety of tasks. Attachments fit onto the telehandlers’ adjustable arm, which extends and retracts to reach and transport over a significant distance. Some of the most common telehandler attachments include: 

  • Buckets
  • Grapples 
  • Carriages 

Selecting the right attachment can increase the productivity, power, and performance of telehandlers as it pertains to specific tasks on site. Such modifications allow crewmembers to easily move materials ranging from wood to heavy metal. 

The Ideal Job Site 

Forklifts are better for use in indoor, controlled environments. They have a compact design that supports a more limited and tighter range of motion. Furthermore, forklifts’ smaller size makes them easy to maneuver in a closed setting. Telehandlers, however, are more flexible for a range of job sites –– indoors and out. Because of their all-terrain design, telehandlers can better navigate environmental landscapes regardless of texture. And because they come in a range of sizes, crewmembers can easily find one to fit in a tight building space or open job site. 

At Florida Wire & Rigging, we not only have the supplies you need to get the job done, but we also have the knowledge to help you get it done right. Whether you need to know what makes one tool different from another or how to correctly apply them to your next lift and rigging job, count on our team to educate yours with on-site seminars, inspections, and analyses. To learn more about our available products, services, and certifications, contact us today at 800-432-2269.