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Kevin Forestell
January 27, 2020

The Material Handler

material handler or lull in warehouse

A material handler is also known as a Lull. The lull is a type of material handler equipment often seen in agriculture and manufacturing. The material handler AKA lull is also known as telehandlers or tele-loaders.

Mainly used in agriculture and manufacturing, a material handler – or lull – has been seen on construction sites more often in recent years. They can be used for a variety of jobs including moving heavy loads off trucks, cleaning up sites and moving materials.

What Is a Material Handler?

A material handler is a piece of hybrid-type equipment that mixes a boom lift, a forklift, and a tractor of sorts. With the ability to move materials into the sky, as well as drive over uneven terrain, it can be a useful machine in a number of projects. 

The extendable boom of the machine can extend at a 70 degree angle up to 30′ or further. The max weight restriction is affected by a mix of factors including boom extension, angle, the type of attachment and wind speed. 

They have a maximum lift capacity ranging from 4,400 to 12,000 lbs, depending on the size of the equipment. However maximum lift capability cannot be reached at maximum reach and should always be used with care.

telehandler moving pallet with fork attachment

Common Uses of Lulls and Material Handlers

The most basic use of a lull, or material handler is to lift and move materials to different heights. The different attachments, like forks or buckets, mean that a variety of materials are able to be handled by a lull. Primarily used as a “lift and place” tool, this machine is seen as a more advanced forklift since it has a greater extension ability than a traditional forklift. 

Choosing the Right Material Handler for the Job

Material handler rentals listed on DOZR are organized by lift capacity and forward reach. It is important to have an understanding of the job requirements before renting a material handler. This can direct what lift capacity and reach the machine should have as well as what types of attachments should be added to the rental.

Attachments for Material Handlers

Forks are the most common attachment for a material handler. Compact or midsize machines can be used indoors to move and transport items in warehouses or manufacturing plants. 

Forklift and bucket attachments are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. They allow for easy scooping, loading, lifting, and moving of material from the ground to a loft or to load into a truck. 

A List of Attachments

There are a variety of attachments and accessories which can be added to a lull. They help to diversify the ability of the machine and help make it an efficient tool for a number of jobs. Examples of lull attachments include:

  • Side-tilt carriage
  • Material bucket
  • Cubing forks
  • Pallet forks
  • Lumber forks
  • Grapple buckets
  • Work platforms
  • Truss jib
  • Trash hopper

The History of the Lull

The Lull telehandler was created in 1959 by Legrand “shorty” Lull in Minnesota. His company became Lull Engineering Inc in 1963, then was acquired by Stamatakis Industries before declaring bankruptcy in 1992.

At this time it was purchased and owned by a man named Badger Bazen from Johnsonville, S.C. who changed the name to Lull Industries and finally Lull International. Over the next few years the Lull name was passed around some more, joining The Harbour Group of St Louis in 1996 which made it a division of SkyTak. In 2003, after a few more company ownership shuffles, JLG acquired the Lull name and used the brand recognition to lead the way for the North American market.

Despite the many twists and turns that the Lull name has seen it grew to become a recognized brand name for a material handler. In fact it has been used synonymously for the term “telehandler” and some people refer to the machine simply as a “lull”.

Image borrowed from Eliftruck.com.

A division of JLG, the Lull telehandler line is on it’s way to extinction. JLG announced in 2014 that they would cease all production of Lull telehandlers in 2015 but would continue to service these machines beyond that time. This decision was made in response to a market decline for this particular model and increased EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) engine standards. 

The Lull models of telehandler are the Lull 644E-42, 944E-42 and 1044C-45 Series II.

JLG

John L Grove founded JLG in 1969 and sold their very first boom lift in the 1970s. Since then JLG has expanded into lifts and trailers. They now have two varieties of material handlers: the JLG High Capacity Telehandlers and the standard JLG Telehandler. 

Their standard material handlers all feature a Tier 4 Final engine to make the machines more fuel-efficient and better for the environment. They have lift capacities ranging from 5,500 to 12,000 lbs and can reach heights up to 55 feet. JLG designs their material handlers with ultra-strong booms which make them notorious to reach higher and further than any other brand.

Image borrowed from For Construction Pros.

Potential Safety Hazards Lulls

As it is with any type of heavy machinery operation, the use of a lull requires training and planning to help ensure safe operation.

Never operate a lull without first receiving proper training. Never operate a lull on a job site if it is not safe to do so.

There are a number of reasons, like bad weather, excessive loose materials and debris in the work area, wet or muddy terrain or high wind speeds, which can increase the safety hazards of using a lull. Always follow safety procedures and take the time to plan accordingly before beginning to work with a piece of machinery. 

There are a number of safety hazards specific to material handler operation. Click on each topic to learn more.

Beware of Load Capacity

Exceeding load capacity of a lull could damage the boom or attachment. It also increases the hazard of tipping the machine which puts both the equipment operator and those working around the equipment in danger. Never lift more than the machine can handle and always use the proper attachment for the job. 

Secure All Loads As Needed

Another piece to load safety is to always secure all loads accordingly. Lulls are used primarily for material handling and moving so it is vital to secure all loads accordingly every time material is being transferred.

This also applies to the platform attachment: always ensure that anyone working on a platform is properly harnessed and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Check the guard rails of the platform for safety and stability.

Report any discrepancies and never use a piece of equipment that is not safe. 

Terrain Safety

While material handlers are designed to be tough machines ready for any kind of terrain there is still a level of danger for certain terrains. Steep slopes or inclines can affect the center of gravity of a machine, especially when carrying a load.

This could also lead to the tipping of a machine. Always survey a worksite before beginning to work and use the platform stabilizers accordingly.

Always Practise Preventative Maintenance

Just like with any equipment proper upkeep is the key to a long life of functional machines. Keeping up with oil changes, greasings, monitoring damages and taking care in storage and tire maintenance can ensure that any machine can be used for years to come. 

Practices for Safe Operation of Lulls

  • Always follow manufacturing guidelines and weight restrictions
  • Never operate a lull without receiving proper training
  • Always check blind spots and use general equipment operation safety practices to keep you and fellow workers safe
  • Organize work projects away from ground personnel and always be aware of people working around the machine
  • Always wear a seat belt
  • Never lift anyone with a skid steer attachment

The Lull: FAQ

Can a lull be driven on the road?

A lull must be registered and licensed to be driven on a public road but it can be done.  It is important to take the proper steps to safely transport a lull or any other machine on a public road.

How much weight can a lull lift?

The amount of weight that a lull can lift is determined by the reach and load weight of the material that is being moved. Its lift capacities range from 5,000 – 15,000+ lbs all depending on these two factors.

What is the difference between a lull and a telehandler?

The lull and the telehandler are the same type of machine. The difference between them is the model name. The lull is made by JLG but telehandlers are made by a number of other manufacturers.

A lull is also the term used in Florida and other regional areas while telehandler is a term used in Canada and other Northern regions. 

How much weight can a lull lift?

The amount of weight that a lull can lift is determined by the reach and load weight of the material that is being moved. Its lift capacities range from 5,000 – 15,000+ lbs all depending on these two factors.

Can I rent a lull?

Yes, lulls and material handlers can be rented. You can search for lull rentals on DOZR by their lift capacity and forward reach.

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Kevin Forestell headshot
Kevin Forestell
Kevin Forestell is CEO of DOZR and one of the co-founders. Kevin first got started as an entrepreneur when he founded Forestell Landscaping right after graduating from University. His love and passion for the industry and desire to help solve an equipment problem that contractors faced every day is what brought the founding team to start DOZR. Kevin is proud of the level of efficiency brought to the industry through DOZR and hopes that DOZR will help change the standard way equipment is rented.
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