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Operating cost comparison: Telehandler vs. Skidsteer

Discussion in 'Forklifts/Telehandlers' started by digger242j, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    The home builder I often work for has recently decided to retire their crane, in favor of a telehandler. They've owned one crane or another for probably 20 years now, but apparently the cost of liability insurance is more than they're willing to pay. I've said, for the record, that there are things the crane does for them that the telehandler never will, but the decision has been made.

    The main role of the crane has been to lift material, (studs, decking, shingles, etc.) to the framing crews, so they don't have to pick it up and carry it upstairs. It also sets roof trusses and steel beams, moves cubes of brick and block, and occasionally pours concrete in places that are otherwise out of reach. Some of that, the telehandler will be ideal for, and some, not so ideal.

    On the job, there are usually two skidloaders as well, and at least half of what they do is material handling, with forks.

    Yesterday, independent of each other, both the job super and one of the operators complained that they'd been told by the powers that be not to use the telehandler for "small stuff". I presume that means anything that one of the skidders can handle, with respect to both weight, and reach. I suspect that's because those powers that be figure the skidder will be the substantially cheaper of the two machines in terms of overall costs.

    Which leads me to the question--For any given material handling operation (that could be accomplished with a fork equipped skidsteer), is the cost involved substantially more or less than doing the same thing with a telehandler?

    I have no handle on the life expectancy, maintenance costs, fuel efficiency, etc. involved in ownership of a telehandler. Is it possible that the telehandler might be, over the long run, the cheaper machine for the tasks at hand ?

    The operator's wages would be the same, whichever machine it was. The site is a new subdivision, so some moves would be a matter of only a few yards, but others might involve moving material a distance of several blocks.

    Is this a legitimate concern for the big boss, or is he just being "penny wise and pound foolish"?
     
  2. Turbo21835

    Turbo21835 Senior Member

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    I would say it is a wash in the end. I started out on a 6036 Skytrack. A lot of your wear and tear on a telehandler is your boom chain and slides. Anyone using a bucket on a telehandler, and using it as a bulldozer with the boom out are going to put a lot of extra wear on it. That being said, this doesnt sound like it is the case. Fuel consumption may be an issue. I think the skid steers are going to be a little better on that. Then again, i think the skid steers are going to do tasks a lot slower. A couple yard move would be a good move for the skid steer. Several blocks, the telehandler will be a lot quicker

    From personal preferance, I would use the telehandler. Its going to be quicker in most situations. I like have the reach, so you dont have to be on top of everything. I also like having all the lift capacity a telehandler provides. The leveling feature alone will make it quicker than a skid steer in a lot of applications. Ive done almost anything you can think of with a telehandler. From loading/unloading trucks, moving material around on jobsites, using it to set trusses, as a lift with a man basket, ive even set a 34ft tall windmill on a farm. Versitle to say the least. Best for every application, no. Setting trusses, moving a concrete bucket, crane has it hands down. Moving things around a jobsite, I say its going to be more productive, and cheaper than with a skid steer
     
  3. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    From my experience, owning both a telehandler and skidsteers, I would say the difference in operating costs between the two for material movement would be negligible.

    The telehandler is a purpose built machine to move materials around the job site. The skid can do the same but with the obvious limitations. My Gradall and my Bobcats are both fuel sippers compared to the heavy iron. The Gradall has a 40 gal tank and the skids have a 20 or so gallon tank. Run the skid all day toteing materials and you will burn 3/4 or so tank of fuel. The Gradall will run 3-4 days on a tank of fuel.

    The tires are more expensive on a telehandler but the skids tires wear out alot quicker due to the way the skid operates. Overall the tire cost of a skid is alot higher than that of a telehandler. I will need to replace the original tires on my Gradall this year, it has 3k hours on it. I will also need to replace the original tires on my skid this year, it has 300 hours on it. I have to rotate the tires on the Gradall ever so often, due to the way the steering is set up, to evenly wear the tires. Like Turbo said the biggest maintenance/cost items on a telehandler is the boom and chains. But like any piece of equipment proper maintenance is crucial to get the most life out of the machine.

    Of course a telehandler is a more expensive purchase than a skid and this may be a factor in the managements decision although not the only factor to consider. I agree with Turbo that the telehandler will be quicker in most situations than the skid. The only reason why we use a skid to move materials around the jobsite is usually due to space confinements.

    To sum things up:

    Fuel - wash
    Tires - telehandler wins
    Operators wages - same
    Initial expense - skid wins
    Versatility and speed placing materials - telehandler wins
    Longevity/durability - telehandler wins

    Digger - to answer your question, Yes I believe the owner is being penny wise and pound foolish. If you make the investment in a telehandler, then use it for it's inteneded purpose. What I could see happening in this situation is guys will be standing around waiting on the skid to move "the small things" while the telehandler is sitting there. The hourly labor costs for 2-3 guys standing around is alot more than the hourly operating cost of the telehandler.
     
  4. bobcatmechanic

    bobcatmechanic Senior Member

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    cm1995 thats really quick to blow through tires learn to make wide turns on pavement and watch for stuff that will cut the tiers also for new tires if you work on mostly dry ground and pavement get some severe duty bobcat tires they wear really well and last a long time also if you get them foam fill them it is a lot of intial cost but if you run ott steel tracks alot they save on flat down time and having to remove the tracks to change the tire a draw back to the severe duty tires is they tend to ball up and not clean out in the mud is the only draw back to them as soon as you hit the street though they leave a nice long trail of mud as they clean out:D just a few tips for tires that i have seen you can also get foam fills recapped by tire companys alot cheaper then getting them cut off new tires and re foam filling
     
  5. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    The factory Bobcat tires are not neccessarily the best as far as wear items go. I have been running skids for over 20 years and we usually get 400-600 hours out of a set. My skid has 300 hours on it, less than a year old and I will have to put new tires on this year, they are 50% worn.

    But this has alot to do with the operating environment. The wheeled machine is used mostly on asphalt - cleaning streets with the sweeper, landscaping, backfilling curbs, demo, etc. As far as steel OTT, abondonded them a few years ago when the rubber track machines came out. With the expense of rubber tracks, the track machine stays off concrete and asphalt as much as possible.

    My skid does have foamed tires. I am not too familiar with re-treading these but that is something to look into. Thanks for the advice.
     
  6. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    Thanks, guys, for the thoughtful replies.

    They sort of confirm my impressions.

    As far as the tires go, the site that all the machines in question are on is an old slag dump. The streets are paved, but the building lots, and the yet-to-be-developed portion of the site, consist of nothing but old slag that came out of the steel mills. For the most part, it's fine, granular material, but it's abrasive as hell. I don't know what they're spending on skid steer tires, but I know the guy from the tire shop doesn't need to be reminded of the directions every time they call.


    As far as boom and chain wear, if it's a situation where the job could be done with a skid, then the boom won't need to be extended anyway, will it?

    Anyone with further input is encouraged to join the discussion...

    :)
     
  7. will_gurt

    will_gurt Charter Member

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    They were paying around $91 USD per skid tire plus installation not foamed after they were told that foam voids the warranty, when I was still there. Yes the slag is really rough on tires. We were getting, what? around 150 to 200 hours on half sets of tires per skidloader and in hours maybe 1000 for the dump trucks if driven strictly off road. For the trucks in mileage that would be like 3000-5000 miles for drive tires and like 8000-10000 miles for steering. Don't forget about all the acellerated wear on the rest of the machines in question running in the slaggish enviroment.

    The powers that be, had the same feelings about thier,then brand new 247B skidloader too. It will pass when the get hit with the constant contractor waiting for supplies thing that always seems to hit them!