AUSTRALIAN farmers are realising the myriad benefits of agricultural telehandlers, with sales jumping significantly over the past 12 months.
CLAAS Harvest Centre Product Specialist – CLAAS Greenline & SCORPION, Blair McAlwee, says telehandlers deliver far greater productivity than a front-end loader.
“A telehandler has far greater reach, hydraulic capacity and manoeuvrability than a tractor,” he says.
“You can use a wide range of implements, including buckets, forks, bale hands and silage grabs, in the tightest of areas. “You can raise, tip, lower and return in just a few seconds – all automatically, if you want – so you can get jobs done more quickly and without stress.
“It’s all about productivity – a saving of just a few minutes a day can equate to a few hours a week and ultimately a few days a year. “Then there’s the safety and comfort to consider. “Telehandlers have a much lower centre of gravity, four evenly-sized tyres and increased visibility.
“Once you get the opportunity to operate a telehandler, it won’t be long before you’re thinking about how you could use it on your property.”
The CLAAS Harvest Centre network stocks all six models from the new range of CLAAS SCORPION telehandlers. Developed in partnership with leading materials handling manufacturer, Liebherr, the new series boasts numerous improvements to enhance performance, handling, comfort and safety.
Blair says the SCORPION 732 or 736 models are the ‘go-to’ machine for dairy farmers, while the 741 or 746 models are typically chosen by broadacre farmers.
“The 732 and 736 are compact, highly manoeuvrable ‘all-rounders’ that have a maximum reach of seven metres a lifting capacity of 3.2 and 3.6 tonnes, respectively,” he says. “The 741 and 746 are the same machines but with a larger lifting capacity of 4.1 and 4.6 tonnes.”
All four models are powered by a 136 hp Deutz Stage IIIA (Tier 3) diesel engine equipped with an advanced management system for more efficient operation and transport. The engine also features a dynamic cooling system that automatically controls the fan speed according to engine demand.
“The fan also has an automatic reverse function, which automatically cleans the raditator every 15 minutes when working in particularly dirty conditions,” Blair says. “The driver can also reverse the fan manually at any time, at the touch of a button.”
The proven VARIPOWER or VARIPOWER PLUS transmissions have three speed ranges which can be selected using the joystick. The electrohydraulic parking brake is automatically activated if the machine stops, the engine is switched off or if the driver leaves the cabin. The parking brake is automatically de-activated when the driver puts their foot on the accelerator.
All models can be operated in front-wheel, four-wheel, crab-steering and optional manual crab-steering mode, which allows the front axle to be steered manually. “This mode offers distinct advantages for certain applications, such as compacting the edges of clamps or moving along the walls of buildings and cleaning out silage bunkers,” Blair says.
The three smaller models are equipped with 460 mm diameter tyres as standard, while the 746 can be fitted with 500 mm diameter tyres for improved stability and reduced ground pressure when working with heavier loads.
The cabs offer un-interupted all-round visibility. “The attachment point for the telescopic boom now lies lower on the chassis, significantly expanding the field of view to the right and rear of the machine,” Blair says. “This also lowers the centre of gravity, maximising safety and operator comfort.
“The controls are logically arranged and are easy to operate. “The 3.5” or optional 7” screen means the operator can monitor all of the important settings, such as speed, steering mode or oil level, at a glance.”
Blair says the SMART LOADING driver-assistance system, including automatic bucket return and overload protection, helps to improve efficiency and safety. “SMART LOADING enables precise control of the working hydraulics to enable material to be stacked with greater accuracy. “The speed of the working hydraulics can be halved via a toggle switch.”
All models are equipped with the proven quick-release headstock and 50 mm diameter locking pins. They can also be fitted with a wide choice of hitches and trailer brakes for towing heavy loads. A side support for the telescopic arm is also available. “This additional support provides even greater stability and protection of the machine during clamp work or pushing operations, which involves significant extension of the arm and lever action,” Blair says.