Telehandlers and forklifts are seen on construction sites and workplaces the world over and for many people they are interchangeable. This isn’t the case though and if you are deciding about what makes the most sense in terms of a plant hire option, it is important that you completely understand the difference between the two pieces of machinery. 

What is a forklift?

A forklift isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you are considering options for construction equipment, but it is a powerful machine that is used to lift and move items around the site. If you are looking to move materials onto and off site, a forklift might sometimes be the best option.

Primarily, a forklift is a vehicle with a two-pronged forked front attachment that is used to lift materials, mostly on a pallet or wooden platform. Forklifts only have the capability to move things up and down using the forks attached to the front. They offer the perfect solution to sites where there is extensive lifting required, and therefore you often see forklifts used in warehouses and production workplaces, lifting materials on and off shelving and to different parts of the building for production and distribution purposes. 

What makes a telehandler different to a forklift?

What makes a telehandler different is that it offers versatility with telehandler attachments. Whereas a forklift only has forks that lift the load up and down, there are booms attached to telehandlers that can be fitted with a wide variety of attachments that instantly makes a telehandler versatile and capable of performing different tasks. 

There are multiple arm attachments that can be fitted to the boom of a telescopic handler. This allows them to carry out specific tasks, such as acting like a mini crane, that just isn’t possible with a regular forklift. You can fit buckets, hooks, grapples, and all sorts of different telehandler attachment types. One type of attachment is a pallet fork, which provides the same capability and performance that a forklift does, moving awkward or large loads to positions they need to be in.

Telehandlers have a larger wheelbase than a forklift and larger bodies, making them a much more desirable choice when it comes to moving materials on surfaces that might be slippery or uneven. When it comes to outdoor sites and construction sites therefore you are more likely to see telehandlers rather than forklifts, which are more suitable for indoor, warehouse-type workplaces.

Choosing telehandlers for outside work

Telehandlers are often the go-to-choice for projects that are primarily outside, such as construction jobs. Telehandlers provide the versatility of use, stability on uneven and slippery terrain and safety standards that fit the outdoor workplace well. Hiring telehandlers allows you to minimise the number of vehicles on site at any one time, due to the versatility and capability of performance. Forklifts on the other hand are the perfect choice for indoor workplaces, such as warehouses and factories, where there is a need to offer functionality by moving loads across shelves and throughout sites.