Rotary telehandlers, rotos or 360 telhandlers, such as those available from plant hire specialist CW Plant Hire, have an extending boom mounted on a rotating upperstructure, similar to a mobile crane. The roto is in effect three machines in one, providing all-round telehandler capability with pallet forks or attachments, working with a crane jib and a winch, or performing as an aerial work platform basket.
Rotary machines weigh in at the heavier end of the 360 telescopic handler line-up, with maximum working heights of 10-32m. Lift capacities range from 1.3-7.0-tonnes with an impressive operating envelope, thanks in part to secure, widely spaced outriggers and a self-levelling chassis. However, the machine’s ability to lift, reach out and rotate, placing a load without having to reposition at ground level, can be as important on site as its ultimate maximum lift capacity.
Despite the separate upperstructure and lower chassis, rotary telehandlers retain the multiple steering options and all-terrain drive capability of their forward-reach stablemates. They remain exceptionally manoeuvrable and capable of accessing confined site locations in all weather conditions. All-round visibility, from the high-mounted operator cabs, cameras and other sensors, also contributes to overall site safety.
Available from many manufacturers, 360 telescopic handlers can be supplied by plant hire or rental companies like CW Plant Hire, with or without an experienced operator. Companies using their own operators should ensure that the driver holds the CPCS A77 Telescopic Handler 360 Slew certificate, as well as the standard forward-reach CPCS A17 Telescopic Handler card.
CW Plant Hire currently offers two models of the JCB rotating machine – the JCB 555-21R and the JCB 555-260R. Benefitting from JCB’s number one position in the global telehandler market, both models have a maximum lift capacity of 5.5-tonnes, with lift heights of 21m and 26m respectively.
Given the capabilities and lifting capacity of the machines, contractors will also want to fully evaluate their method statements and working criteria, before carrying out any actual lifting operations. This may involve the use of banksmen, to ensure safe lifting is carried out, while operators will need to ensure that any chains or slings conform to regular safety checks. Where the rotary machine is used as a mobile aerial work platform, the basket should also be inspected and all operatives qualified for work platform use.
Of course, roto machines will be more expensive to purchase and to hire than a conventional forward-reach machine. However, the benefits of using a rotary model, versus a forward-lift telehandler, are that the operator will be able to carry out a wider range of lifting tasks without having to lower the boom and relocate the carrier machine, delivering increased productivity and cutting time and cost on site. A roto telehandler will also usually be far less expensive to hire-in than a dedicated all-terrain crane lift.
The versatile 360 telescopic handler is a master of all trades, offering a compact crane and a powered access platform capabilities in a single, highly productive machine.