Telehanders are wonderfully versatile and powerful machines but they are only as good as the attachment they are using at the moment. Just like choosing the right tool for a car repair, the “best” tool for the job isn’t necessarily the one that’s in your hand right now.

Telehandler attachments have evolved dramatically over recent years. Attachments come categorized in different groups according to function. Users have to be very aware of what attachment will safely and effectively do the task that is demanded. You may need to scoop dirt, raise or move a load of material or suspend a load. 

We’ll take a quick look at each category and discuss the functions and jobs that each is meant to address. We’ll also talk about an attachment designed for JLG with the help of West Coast Equipment’s own Dave Robidoux!


Carriages are the most popular and widely used attachment for telehandlers. They utilize forks like forklifts use, but with more flexibility. Carriages vary in width and function and the different types allow for additional features for specific types applications. 1

  • Side tilt carriage: Can position the load properly for transport across uneven terrain and can also pick or place loads that are not on a level surface
  • Side swing carriage: Provides offset placement of the load in angles from 50° to 90° each side from center. This is useful when the machine is unable to provide a direct path to the load due to working in tight spaces.
  • Fork positioning carriage: Provides a powered means to situate the forks at the correct spread for palletized loads, without the operator leaving the cab
  • Side shifting carriage: Will shift the entire carriage and fork either direction. This is useful if positioning the machine side-to-side is not possible when picking up a load or if lateral placement of the load is necessary.


Buckets are generally used for loading loose material. All buckets are intended for non-excavating applications.

  • Non-powered general-purpose bucket: Can be used for loading dirt, mulch, gravel or any other bulk material
  • Powered grapple bucket: Helpful for non-uniform loads that are awkward to capture in the bucket without use of the grapple arms. This is helpful to maintain the load in the bucket while transporting and disposing the contents.
  • Multi-purpose bucket: Can accomplish many applications. With its split bucket design, it can be used for loading, carrying and dumping; as a grapple for handling odd-shaped objects; or for dozing, leveling and spreading material with the clamshell open.

Truss Booms/Lift Hooks

Truss booms can provide a multitude of solutions for the job site. They can expand the use of the vehicle by providing increased reach and sometimes increased height of the suspended load. Most come in fixed lengths, but adjustable truss booms are also available, which vary the reach of the load. Additional variations of coupler or fork-mounted truss booms and hooks expand the options available to the customer including some truss booms that are equipped with a winch.

Specialty Attachments

The number of specialty attachments can be endless, depending on the work site application. Some of the more popular work tools used today include fork-mounted work platforms, pipe grapples, sweepers, augers and trash hoppers.

Here is where we’d like to talk about the Sheet Material handler attachment.

Our own Dave Robidoux worked closely with JLG to develop the new Sheet Material Handler Attachment for JLG telehandlers.

Dave saw a unique opportunity to better assist contractors with picking and placing sheetrock, drywall, plywood, greenboard, and more. Until the sheet material handler attachment, placing these items was difficult, time consuming, and costly. Watch Video for more info.

The bottom line is that, the power and effectiveness of telehandlers is directly tied to the tool, or attachment it is fitted with at the moment. The best tool is the one you know is specifically designed for the work that needs to be done right now! The options have grown dramatically in recent years and it is important that you are familiar with what is available to make your work site as safe, efficient and effective as possible.