The Viability of Vertical Mast Forklifts

As telescopic handlers become increasingly popular on today's construction sites, the future of vertical mast forklifts often raises a question. But the merit of this product category has never been second guessed by Ausa North America Corp., Coral Gables, Fla. In fact, the company continues to invest in these products and introduced two new machines • the 8,000-pound capacity C400H and 11,000-pound C500H • at ConExpo.

Ed Ugolini, North American sales manager for Ausa, explained there are a number of applications requiring forklifts to load, unload, store, and stage materials, and in some instances, companies are ineffectively using telehandlers and industrial forklifts for these jobs. “Masted trucks don't have the attachment capabilities or the forward reach of a telehandler, but what percent of telehandlers are being used to unload and stage materials?” he asks. Similarly, he says many industrial lift trucks are often used to unload materials from trucks on un-improved ground • another ineffective use of machinery.

“Telehandlers are not the end-all, be-all machine,” Ugolini said, adding that construction companies can more practically use their material-handling dollars by better assessing their needs. “Vertical lifts provide a price point, ease of operation, and they are less expensive to maintain,” he said.

But with that said, Ausa recognizes there is a time and place for telehandlers. The company recently made the international debut of its first telescopic handler • the Taurulift T204H • at ConExpo. This Spanish-made unit is currently being tested in Europe, although Ugolini said the unit on display was sold to Liftboss Material Handling in Canada.

Advancements in Dealers and Machine Designs
Ausa is a growing brand in North America, doing business in the United States since 1999 and offering sales and aftermarket support, parts, and service from in its Florida office. After joining Ausa only three months ago, Ugolini says his primary goal has been to develop a sales organization and strong dealer network in North America. He said the big show in March provided some good prospects from U.S. and Canadian dealers.

Ugolini said the selling point of Ausa's product offerings is they are solid machines. The C400H and C500H vertical mast forklifts are available in two- and four-wheel drive configurations. Powered by Kubota engines, they feature Rexroth hydrostatic transmissions and Dana Spicer axles. The four-wheel drive models feature a compensator system with a central gearbox. “True power is going to the wheels as required,” Ugolini said.

The Taurulift telehandler is more compact than a small rough-terrain forklift but provides similar capacities, he said. This unit can carry up to 4,400 pounds to its maximum lift height of 13 feet, and it can handle 2,200 pounds at its 8.5-foot maximum forward reach.

Unique to Ausa is its flip-up cab design, which is designed for easy access to the major hydraulic components of the truck. “In addition, the engine compartment is located under a separate hood so that the operator can easily reach the common checkpoints on the lift trucks.” Ugolini said. He added that the units also have numerous ergonomic features, such as the single joystick control for operation. “The operator never has to take his hand off the steering wheel,” he said.