With the MLT 840, Manitou hopes to up the ante when it comes to telehandler development. James Rickard puts its latest machine through its paces with an on-farm test.
Sitting in between the 735 and the 845, Manitou’s MLT 840 telehandler is a direct replacement for the 741, featuring more capacity, productivity and efficiency. With a lift height of 7.55m and a maximum lift capacity of four tonnes, it sets itself apart from its predecessor and contemporaries with a modern, tractor-like working environment and sophisticated control systems.
It is available in three specification levels; Classic, Premium and Elite. However, for the UK, the higher spec Elite version will be available as standard. This includes a higher powered 137hp engine, as opposed to 115hp, a 180 litre/minute variable flow rate pump, air conditioning, boom suspension, attachment line decompression system and xenon work lights.
A one-piece door, incorporating electric window, provides good access to the cab, which is now 15 per cent bigger – and it shows. Its roomy cab is clad in decent, solid plastics, with a control layout much more akin to a high-end tractor. The steering column includes reach and rake adjustment, which incorporates stalks for lights and wipers, which now has an intermittent function, and the newly-designed dash has been kept low so not to impede forward visibility. It contains all the usual information including load indicator, as well as an LCD screen which provides information such as the next maintenance period, gear selection, travel speed, boom angle and fuel consumption.
Just below this is a back-lit control panel which takes care of machine functions including different handling modes.
The firm’s now legendary, mouse-style, JSM joystick is integrated into the seat’s armrest for easier use. It puts all primary controls to hand including direction change and gear selection. It also incorporates rollers for proportional auxiliary service and boom out control which are responsive and very accurate.
At first it is a bit of a head trip having so many controls on one joystick, but after 10 minutes you wonder how you managed without it.
Lots of wipers keep up the all-round good visibility of the 840, but the roof one is a little small. Sight-lines to the headstock when hooking up attachments is pretty good too.
One of the 840’s most notable features is its new Dana Spicer M-Shift transmission. It is a five-speed box which can be driven in fully automatic mode or in manual using the plus and minus buttons on the JSM joystick, much like a powershift. In either mode, gear changes are smooth and swift, with automatic providing an effortless drive for both yard manoeuvres and road work. Also in automatic, top gear can be limited to second, third or fourth depending on the job.
In addition, there are also modes for handling and road. In handling you get an inching function in first and second gear for precise movements, which was evident when stacking straw. In road mode you get torque lock up in gears fourth (above 23kph) and fifth (above 38kph) for a positive and more efficient transmission of power to the wheels. Top speed is 40kph.
Brakes integrated into the front and rear differentials are standard as is an automatic handbrake, which can be switched to manual if desired.
Much of the design and development of the 840 has been driven by safety legislation, predominantly the EN15000 technical standard which addresses longitudinal stability – i.e. fore and aft movement.
This has led to the development of three handling modes; default, bucket and suspended. Default gives you full capacity of the telehandler, but when the safe boom-out limit is reached it then only allows you to make non-aggravating movements, i.e. retraction of the boom or lifting of the boom.
Bucket mode allows the above plus crowd and tilt movements and the use of an auxiliary service. The machine will also remember it is in bucket mode unless the engine is stopped – unlike before.
Suspended mode is similar to default mode but with 10 per cent less load carrying ability to counter the swinging movement.
This safety system may sound interfering and over-nannying, but in normal operation it is hardly noticeable. It is only when the machine is pushed it begins to kick-in. Either way, it does give you piece of mind when working. If necessary though, the system can be overridden for 60 seconds via the press of a switch to the left of the operator’s seat. Tilt lock-out can also be selected for use with man baskets.
Another safety feature designed to prevent accidental injury is ‘operator presence’. This deactivates the hydraulics and transmission when two of three things are not detected; the door is not shut, the driver is not in the seat, or when the throttle pedal is not being used.
The 840 is said to have 25 per cent more hydraulic pumping capacity compared to the 714, and it shows. Even when carrying out multiple tasks such as crowding the bucket, retracting the boom and lowering the boom, the 840 swiftly reacts, keeping cycle times to a minimum. With such high hydraulic capacity, it also meant engine revs could be kept to a minimum.
To cope with increased forces, the boom’s neck has been completely re-designed and is now made of cast steel. The boom has also been tweaked to increase its strength.
Boom suspension is standard which works very well at ironing out bumps.
The 840’s headstock remains the same to match the rest of the range, which includes hydraulic locking and the ability to restrict the flow of the auxiliary services via knobs in-cab. Both send and return can be adjusted individually to allow, for example, a shear grab to be opened fast and shut slowly, or the speed of a bale dispenser to be slowed down. Continuous flow is also standard as is the Easy Connect System which dumps oil pressure out of the auxiliary service lines.
Power for this new machine comes from a 4.5 litre, four-cylinder Deere Power Systems engine, complying with stage 3b emission regulations using exhaust gas recirculation, a diesel particulate filter and a diesel oxidation catalyst. No AdBlue required.
Manitou chose DPS because, it says, the Deere power-plant matches up best with the transmission and hydraulic systems for the best performance, when compared to the several other engines it tried.
As a result of a new engine, the engine bay has been revised to accommodate it. This features an improved air-flow and a fully automatic, hydraulically controlled radiator fan to reduce fuel consumption. It is also reversible in cycles of 15 seconds. This can be either triggered manually or set to automatic whereby it reverses every three minutes. A screen on the radiators can also be pulled out for easy cleaning.
Engine bay access is also improved thanks to a two-part folding hood. Daily maintenance and checks have been kept simple with a compartment, just in front of the cab, housing the cab’s air filter, washer bottle and brake reservoir. A central greasing bank takes care of the main lift ram, the compensating ram rear oscillating axle.
At the rear it is fitted as standard with a pick-up hitch (2t lift capacity with 10t towing capacity), lighting socket, hydraulic brake service and auxiliary service.
The 840 is available now to order retailing at £76,467 for an Elite spec machine.
When handling grain and straw at our test site, we found the 840 to be in its element. Precise control, coupled with rapid hydraulics, good lift capacity and exceptional manoeuvrability, made the 840 a pleasure to drive.
Even with a 3cu.m capacity bucket full of grain the machine felt stable. Its standard boom suspension did a good job of soaking up bumps too.
With its transmission we think it has achieved the drivability of a hydrostatic with the performance of a torque convertor.
For all its safety features we still found the machine very drivable, with the systems passively working away in the background.
There is no denying, with all the changes and updates, Manitou has produced a well specified machine. In terms of comfort and operation, it is a quantum leap forward.
It is fair to say, after a relatively short drive, we were impressed with the 840. Perhaps a longer drive or some strenuous clamp work may reveal a few weaknesses, only time will tell.