As part of its strategy to gain a bigger footprint in the agricultural market, Case IH has extended its product offering to include a full range of telehandlers.
First seen in the UK at last year’s Lamma machinery show, Case IH is now offering a full range of telehandlers.
In addition, the manufacturer reckons its dealers selling Case IH telehandlers will be able to have fewer franchises while maintaining or increasing their product offering. However, the firm is adamant it is not going to put any pressure on dealers to sell its telehandlers, especially if they are already tied in with another brand.
Comprising six models the FarmLift telehandler range includes machines with lift capacities from 2.5-4.2 tonnes and lift heights from five to nine meters. All use a two-stage boom apart from the long-reaching 935. To keep things easier for the customer, the manufacturer says it can supply handlers with various headstocks to fit existing attachments.
Unsurprisingly, the CNH-built machines are shared with sister company New Holland, but Case IH called first dibs to offer this latest range of telehandlers.
The only machine not built in-house is the compact 525, which is sourced from Italian firm Dieci. While it uses a single speed hydrostatic transmission, the CNH machines use a 40kph, four-speed, ZF powershift transmission (on 632,735 and 935 models) coupled to a torque convertor.
CNH machines also share the same frame with power coming from sister firm FPT using 4.5-litre engines. Emissions control is via a selective catalytic reduction system using AdBlue.
There is some overlapping of models in the six model range, which sees two machines (the 635 and 742) receive a higher specification for increased operator comfort and extra functionality. On top of standard specification, these get integrated armrest controls, two extra gears (giving six forwards and three in reverse), an automatic gear shifting function in the top two gears, limited slip differentials in both the front and rear axles and the ability to change steering modes on the move (at speeds less than 5kph).
And it is the high-spec 742 we got to try for an evaluation. Jumping aboard reveals a very spacious and uncluttered cab, helped in part by a large curved windscreen which offers good visibility to attachments throughout the lift range.
Sight lines all-round are aided by a relatively high positioned cab and plenty of glass. There is no obtrusive air conditioning unit over the rear window either which helps, but the engine bay is quite bulky, a problem most manufacturers are dealing with as they need an increasing amount of gizmos to clean up emissions.
There is definitely a familiar Case IH family feel to it too, with recognisable components used throughout. All primary controls are located on the joystick which is integrated into the righ-hand armrest, allowing it to move with you and the seat.
Incorporated into the ‘stick are buttons for transmission, direction and de-clutch control with proportional roller switches for boom and third service control. Feel of controls, particularly the proportional rollers, and response of hydraulic actions is good but there is a lot of travel in the joystick from fully down to fully up. And because of the layout of buttons and rollers, you often need an extra thumb.
For example, more than once we found we could not simultaneously change direction and operate a third service. Perhaps relocation of a roller switch to the rear of the joystick or an optional left-hand reverser would be good.
All other functions can be found on the main right-hand console, including transmission and steering modes, with controls clearly laid out and labelled, more so than many competitors.
Neatly nestled at the top of the console is the dash, which again could not be clearer and includes an analogue load indicator.
To comply with the EN 15000 technical standard, designed to prevent longitudinal overturns, you will find no over complicated attachment or mode selection, just boom and attachment movements limited when maximum load limits are approached.
Transmission is responsive and the 742 soon picks its feet up around the yard and on the road. Cycle times are further aided by sharp, but not neck-breaking, shuttle characteristics.
A handy feature, which should save both wear and tear and fuel, is an automatic neutral function which automatically disengages drive when the brake pedal is depressed. This function can be turned on or off.
Front auxiliary services are on the same circuit as the rear hydraulic services and are easily switched between via a valve. The front auxiliary is also tied into the hydraulic locking mechanism, using an electric valve to switch over. A mechanical version is available as an option.
Stability is good with a wheel practically on the extreme of each corner and, even when loaded up, steering is light as a feather.
Unfortunately for the main boom pin, it has to take a lot of stress when delving into a heap as, unlike some manufacturers, the boom has no lateral support to prevent it moving from side to side when lowered.
To keep out the way of dirt, the main cooling radiator is mounted high and to the rear of the cavernous engine bay, with hydraulic coolers mounted to the side. Reversing fans are optional.
Entering into a new market type is always a struggle but, with CNH resources, Case IH seems to have done a decent job with the FarmLift.
There are some areas which could do with a few tweaks, such as joystick design/control layout and lateral boom support when lowered, but on the whole the Farmlift has no reason not to mix it with the best of them.
It certainly is a simple machine to use and very intuitive. Whether or not it will appeal to non Case IH users will be the question. After all, we can hardly see it being accepted into a diehard John Deere or Massey Ferguson fleet, especially given the choice of non-tractor branded telehandlers available.
However, at least there is now the option of a Case IH telehandler for those wanting to compliment their red fleet and certainly worth a try if you are in the market.
In addition, the manufacturer reckons the opportunity for its dealers to sell Case IH telehandlers will allow them to have fewer franchises and to maintain or increase their product offering. However, the firm is adamant it is not going to put any pressure on its dealers to sell its telehandlers, especially if they are already tied in with another brand.