How to use telehandler load capacity charts

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To safely use a telehandler on the worksite, it is vital that operators should understand how to read a telehandler load capacity chart accurately. The combination of lift, reach and mobility allow telehandlers to perform a wide variety of tasks, making them a common sight in construction and landscaping work. Despite this versatility, telehandlers still have limits and exceeding these can have catastrophic results. Even with stabiliser legs deployed, there is the risk of overbalancing or dropping the load. This can cause damage to the load, the telehandler and surrounding property and place other workers at risk. This is where telehandler load capacity charts come in, clearly depicting the safe ranges of lift and reach for specific load weights.

It should be noted that there is no universal, ‘one size fits all’ load capacity chart. These can be found in the unit’s owner’s manual. Each make and model of telehandler will have a number of specific load capacity charts for different attachments. Fork carriages, truss booms, buckets and other attachments each have their own safe lift heights and outreach and the corresponding chart should be used for each. The make, model of telehandler and attachment will be clearly stated at the top of the load capacity chart, making it easy to select the correct one 

How To Read A Telehandler Load Chart

Regardless of the information on the load capacity chart, there are several basic safety measures that should be observed for all jobs. No two jobs are the same, so it is important to select the correct attachment to safely lift the load. While forks are suitable for many tasks, loose loads or long items such as logs or steel beams will need different attachments. When forks are used, they should be at least two thirds of the length of the load. The load should also be centred on the forks (where used) and flush to the back of the fork frame.

A telehandler load capacity chart consists of a grid with a superimposed curved diagram showing weights and angles in ten-degree increments. While this can initially look confusing to the unfamiliar eye, it is simple to interpret once explained. The horizontal axis shows the length of
the boom (outreach)in feet when extended. This is measured from the front edge of the front tyres on the telehandler. The vertical axis shows the height of the boom when lifted, measured from the underside of the attachment being used. By calculating these measurements and cross referencing them on the grid, the maximum telehandler load capacity for a specific job can be derived.

Interpreting the data

There are two methods of interpreting the data on a telehandler load capacity chart.

1. Calculating the maximum weight

This is useful if the height and distance that a load needs to be lifted are known, but various weights are to be moved. Find the point on the horizontal axis where the distance in feet is marked. Trace this line up until in intersects with the correct height on the vertical axis. The
corresponding section on the curved diagram will give the maximum weight and boom angle in degrees for this job. As long as these are not exceeded during operation, the job can be performed safely.

2. Calculating maximum height and extension

Rather than using height and distance calculated in advance, this uses the physical markings on the telehandler itself. As the boom is lifted, the angle of lift is displayed in degrees on the boom itself. As the boom telescopes out, an ascending number or letter will be revealed. Whether numbers or letters are used will depend on the make and model of telehandler. Which is used is unimportant as the load capacity chart will use the corresponding characters. Find the relevant character on the top of the curved diagram and follow the curve until it intersects with the angle. This will show the maximum extension and angle for the weight being lifted. This is useful if a specific weight is being moved multiple times, but to different distances and heights. The markings on the boom are visible from the cab, so the operator can monitor these during work. by ensuring these are not exceeded, the load will always be lifted safely.

Other considerations

It should be noted that the load capacities on the chart are for a telehandler operating in ideal conditions. When working indoors, the values will be correct for all tasks, but environmental factors should be considered for outdoor work. Soft or uneven ground or wind causing loads to swing can all affect the safe load capacity and the maximum weight lifted should be reduced.

Generally, the horizontal centre of the load should be 24” (61cm) back from the front edge of the forks. Similarly, the vertical load centre should be 24” (61cm) from the upper vertical surface of the fork tines. Load capacity charts for some makes of telehandler are based on a larger load centre, but this will be stated on the chart itself.

If the load centre is greater than the standard 24 inches, the telehandler weight capacity will be reduced. 


SERV Plant Hire are plant and machinery specialists offering a huge variety of construction equipment and tools for hire to the North West of England. We offer a range of market leading Manitou telehandlers, from compact models ideal for urban and indoor work to our largest model with a lift of 18 metres. We can also supply a variety of attachments to fully exploit the versatility telehandlers offer. Whatever your needs, contact us, we will be happy to answer any questions and ensure you have the best equipment for the job in hand.

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