Top trumps: reaching higher with telehandlers

PMV asks how suppliers are striving to reach the top of the pack in telehandler products and services

ANALYSIS, PMV

The telehandler segment in the Middle East is reasonably straightforward. In construction, the governing principle is that operators largely want high power in a convenient package. The situation can be a little more nuanced in the service industry, where function is more tailored to applications and total cost of ownership may be a stronger consideration. However, in both spheres the demand is there and the game is on for manufacturers to beat the competition.

“Telehandlers are one of the most popular type of machines on any construction site in the Middle East. They have become the work horse of construction sites in the region and are used extensively in building construction and maintenance, road building, logistics supply and general contracting,” says Mamoun Mutair, product manager for material handling at Mohamed Abdulrahman Al-Bahar.

He notes: “They are used at every stage of the building process: erecting, cladding and MEP, as well as during the finishing stages such as painting and decorating — and not only in construction, but also for maintenance and refurbishment, when fitted with a platform for safe work at height.”

Perhaps more surprisingly, from the perspective of Al-Bahar and Caterpillar, the low oil price does not appear to be affecting the segment, as Mutair notes: “The demand in the region has increased dramatically over the last 12 to 18 months.”

Steve Ryder, MENA field marketing manager for Case Construction Equipment, balances: “The telescopic handler market in the Middle East is being affected significantly by the negative market sentiment across the region, but not as badly hit as the heavy-line products. For Case, we are growing our market share in this declining market, and focusing our efforts on delivering a strong value proposition for the customers.”

Ryder affirms that even in the depressed market conditions, all across the Middle East, there are opportunities for telescopic handlers to improve customers’ overall operational efficiencies. He highlights villa construction, and large civil engineering and infrastructure projects, such as airport projects and mall development as the key segments, alongside smaller opportunities in the agricultural sector.

Along similar lines, Gaby Rhayem, MENA director for Bobcat, notes: “We are doing well this year and we are gaining market share in a very tough market. While the construction business is down, we are improving our performance and entering new markets in the region. Construction and rental are still the most interesting markets for telehandlers. The agriculture segment is not really a big market but we have eyes on it. There is also the industrial sector which provides some good opportunities.”

Arthur Danelian, managing director for Haulotte Middle East, adds: “The UAE and Turkey are the most interesting markets for our telehandlers at present with a high demand from the construction market mainly.”

TECHNICAL OFFERING

In terms of product, Caterpillar offers a line-up of 11 telehandlers in the region, ranging from 2.5t, 5m-high compact machines to 4t, 17m-high units, explains Al-Bahar’s Mutair. This offering is supported by an extensive dealer network in the GCC region, including Al-Bahar in the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, and Zahid Tractor in Saudi Arabia.

Mutair notes: “Cat telehandlers can be purchased or rented. We also offer an extensive range of wrap-around services to support our customers: maintenance, operator and service training, customer support agreements (CSA), extended warranty, finance solutions, Cat EMS fleet management solutions and equipment protection plan (EPP). Customers come to us because they know we are there for them every step of the way.”

He adds that the most popular model in the region is the TH417C GC, with a rated load capacity of 4t and lift height of 17m — making it best suited to most job heights in our region.

For Case in the Middle East, Ryder notes that the core products are the telehandlers in the 14m and 17m segments, which Case caters to with its TX140 and TX170 machines.

However, he points to the importance of the other value-added features of the Case range, including the impressive stability offered by the combination of a long wheelbase, low boom pivot point and optimized counterweight — for total stability and maximum lift capacity.

He notes: “The robust boom construction and hydraulic cylinders offer excellent range at the maximum working heights, while the power shift transmissions handle high power without heat build-up. Smooth gear shifting and three steering deliver manoeuvrability in the toughest site conditions, while the four-wheel and the crab-steer offers the perfect solutions when working against obstacles.”

With standard pilot controls for hydraulic functions, the Case TX telehandler are set up to be easy machines to drive. At the same time, load sensing and flow-sharing hydraulics, ensure the independent movement of all hydraulic functions, with precision and accuracy.

Bobcat is achieving success in the same range, with its 14m and 18m telehandlers “aimed at the construction and rental markets”, according to Rhayem, who notes: “We have also sold some high-capacity 7m units, but this is still a small market in the Middle East.”

However some customers are demanding even higher capacities and reach. Rhayem notes: “There is a point at 18m, where the requirements exceed the specifications of the Bobcat range of rigid frame telehandlers and we offer a range of rotary telehandlers for our customers who have bigger requirements.”

This year, Bobcat has also introduced an impressively generous three-year standard warranty for the entire range of Bobcat rigid telehandlers manufactured in France — testament to Bobcat’s utmost degree of trust in “the high quality and reliability” of the products it manufactures at its Pontchâteau plant.

Applicable to the Middle East, these models include models from the 5m T2250 up to the top-of-the-range 18m T40180 telehandler.

Over the last four years, Bobcat has released two series of telescopic handlers: the TL Series of telescopic loaders aimed at intensive applications, with 5.8m to 7m two-stage booms; and the T Series of medium-range, 10m-12m models, the high-lift 13m-14m models and the 18m T40180 telehandler.

JCB has made particularly significant strides in the Qatari market, where Marco Bersellini, regional director, JCB Middle East, claims the brand enjoys a 50% share of the market. He concurs that the 14m and 17m ranges are the most popular, but that JCB has also seen movement in the 20m segment.

Equally critical to JCB’s success, he notes, is the strong service network and its hundreds of technicians and service vans, in addition to the parts stocked by its dealers and supported via JCB’s parts distribution hub in Dubai.

Haulotte’s Danelian also names its 14m and 17m telehandlers with 4t capacities, the HTL4014 and HTL4017, as its most popular in the region — based on large ongoing projects.

Mutair adds: “Customers appreciate the fast cycle times, ease of servicing and the support we offer them. We are particularly proud of our 95% parts availability and service expertise, which ensure that customers can keep the equipment working and minimise the costs.”

Danelian echoes: “We are attentive to our customers and adapt to their requirements. A trend we sense in the market more and more is the need for specific solutions adapted to a specific task, project or customer.”

He adds: “From the second half of this year, the GCC market has started to recover.”

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