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The Different Types of Cranes

Updated on May 28, 2015

What is a crane? Unless you’re as strong as Superman or the Incredible Hulk, you will need machines to lift or transport very heavy objects. This is where a crane comes very handy. It is a type of machine that is generally consisted of wire ropes or chains, a hoist, and sheaves. With it you can move objects vertically and also horizontally.

Cranes also come in different sizes. You will see really big ones being used on major construction projects like a skyscraper or smaller ones like a crane truck that can easily fit in most neighborhoods.

First things first, when it comes to hiring a crane you need to know what type is required for your work site. Here is a very useful infographic to guide you:

Now let us proceed to the different types of cranes.

1. Overhead Crane

It is also called a bridge crane because it is built with a hook and line mechanism that runs along a horizontal beam. This type of crane uses two rails to move objects around. Some designs can lift varying weights but the best ones can lift and move objects heavier than 10 tons. The only disadvantage to it is it cannot be easily moved from one place to another.

2. Rough Terrain Crane

This is a truck-mounted, hydraulic crane that is used for off road locations. Its truck has all-wheel drive capability to allow it to work in the harshest environments. While it is very flexible, its major disadvantage is it has to be transported to the work site on another truck as it is not permitted to travel over the normal road systems.

3. Crawler Crane

Imagine a battle tank but instead of having a tank turret, it has a crane on top of it. This type of crane uses Caterpillar tracks which allow it to move around almost any work site with relative ease. It is a favorite crane to use where the location consists mainly of soft soil as the crane’s Caterpillar tracks can move over it without any hassle while providing a much needed support.

4. Aerial Crane

These are actually helicopters designed to lift very heavy objects across great distances. An aerial crane is extremely useful on locations where a normal crane is not easy to set up or operate. Another advantage it has is it can be used for other activities like transporting supplies and personnel to and off the site.

5. Tower Crane

This is the type of crane most of us are familiar with as we see these on construction sites for buildings especially with skyscrapers. It has the advantages of height and lifting capacity, allowing it to lift and move very heavy objects during construction. Most tower cranes can lift around 20 tons.

Always choose the right crane.

Choosing the right crane can be overwhelming, sure—there are heaps of factors to consider and a lot of questions to ask. But once you've got those covered, you're guaranteed to end up with the precise crane for your needs, making your job so much easier and safer.


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