With great flexibility and performance, telehandlers can handle heavy loads, reach impressive lift heights and maneuver through congested areas on the operation. They can even tow a trailer, quickly moving it from one location to another. That said, these machines are especially useful during harvest season to transport, store and prepare bails for shipping.
How Telehandlers Can Benefit Your Operation
When harvest season approaches, we understand it’s “go” time! You and your farm hands are working around the clock to satisfy the demands of the season. This is when telehandlers can serve as one of your most versatile pieces of equipment. More and more operations are beginning to use these machines in a variety of ways, including:
Transferring bales from the chaser at the edge of the field, and loading them onto a truck to be transported to a hay compressing facility;
Transferring bales from a truck and placing them into storage;
Transferring bales from storage, and loading a truck to be sent to the end customer; and
Collecting bales in the field and loading trailers.
Spec’ing a Telehandler for Your Needs
Telehandlers come in a variety of size classes, from compact machines that handle around 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg) up to larger versions with lifting capacities of 12,000 pounds (5,443 kg) or more. Depending on the size of the bales you harvest, it’s important to consider the machine’s lifting capacity in order to safely and efficiently carry loads.
Due to the nature of production-type environments, and the stress that type of consistent lifting can cause on the machine, it is crucial to operate a telehandler with a reinforced framework. A stronger framework will help distribute the stress so it’s not always concentrated on one area, ultimately preserving the life of the machine.
It is also important to assess how the boom is extended and retracted—whether it is cylinder-driven or chain-driven. Cylinder-driven booms are recommended for work in agricultural applications, as they are more durable in bucket loading applications. In the same applications, chain-driven booms can be sensitive to stretching and/or damage. Additionally, booms with a low-pin design are ideal for agricultural applications. A low-pin boom provides optimal all-around visibility even when the boom is lowered, a common feature on most compact telehandlers.
Horsepower becomes an important consideration if you plan on operating your telehandler in fields. Look for a machine with upwards of 140 HP in order to achieve optimal torque and traction when lifting and transporting bales from the field to the trailer.
During harvest season, machine downtime is your worst enemy. Fortunately, some of today’s advanced telehandlers are engineered with advancements to significantly increase uptime, including:
Passive engine regeneration – These systems utilize a clean emissions module designed to require no operator intervention or disruption of work cycles. Regeneration of the diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) occurs passively at a low temperature, while the machine continues to operate. Comparatively, in order for the engine to regenerate, some telehandlers have to stop working and be parked in a safe zone to allow the system to complete this process.
Quick-attach couplers – A design that incorporates a quick-attach coupler will make changing attachments easy with the push of a few buttons from inside the cab. Swapping attachments from a bucket to a shear or a fork shouldn’t take more than a few seconds.
Reversing fan – Working in dusty, and often hot environments, it is important to keep debris out of the engine and make sure it remains cool. Reversing fans help avoid potential engine damage or shut-down by constantly blowing out debris and keeping the engine cool while operating.
As you can see, telehandlers offer a lot of value to agricultural applications, especially hay production operations. If you are considering purchasing or renting one to help with your harvesting and storage tasks, it’s always important to research your options and configure the machine to best suit your needs. To learn more about telehandlers and the value they can bring to your operation, contact your local Cat® dealer or visit the Cat® Resource Center.
We’d like to hear about how you are gearing up for harvesting season and your thoughts on adding a telehandler to your fleet of equipment.
Tell us about the machines, attachments and implements you rely on the most during harvest season.
What are the toughest challenges you face during harvest season?
Do you currently own and/or operate a telehandler on your operation? If so, what does it do?
Have you recently considered purchasing or renting a telehandler to help out on your operation? If so, why?
Aside from the tasks listed in this blog, what other jobs do you think a telehandler could be utilized for on a farm or ranch operation?
I’m an Attachments Product Application & Sales Support Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have been with Caterpillar for five years including roles in the field as a dealer sales support representative and marketing support in the skid steer and small wheel loader product groups. I graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Agricultural Business and Economics. Our goal is to provide a full portfolio of attachments for our customers to be more productive and versatile with their machines.
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