It’s hard to imagine what we would do without cranes.
These handy pieces of equipment are essential for projects ranging from building bridges and skyscrapers to lifting and transporting the heaviest of loads. They come in many shapes and sizes, with each type of crane featuring certain characteristics that make it the right crane for the job.
Choosing the right construction crane ensures optimal safety and efficiency when working on any large-scale project. Factors to consider include the terrain, load capacity needed, and maximum height required. For example, tower cranes are best suited for building tall structures, while rough-terrain cranes are ideal for transporting cargo over uneven ground. Carry deck cranes can handle loads of varying weights, while crawler cranes offer increased stability on soft surfaces. Read on to learn more about 10 of the most common types of construction cranes.
Static vs. Mobile Cranes
Static cranes are stationary machines that are secured to a roof or the ground, such as overhead, hammerhead, and luffing tower cranes. They are ideal for lifting heavy objects over a long distance, as their base remains stationary for the duration of a project.
Mobile cranes, on the other hand, have wheels or tracks that allow them to move around construction sites while in operation. This makes them useful when there are multiple lifts in different locations. While static cranes offer stability when lifting heavy loads, mobile cranes provide additional flexibility and portability to suit various needs on a job site.
Types of Static Cranes
Overhead cranes are typically found in factories or warehouses. Attached to the ceiling via fixed beams, the crane travels along these tracks and uses hoists to transport heavy loads or dangerous materials across a facility. Due to their placement, they allow for greater freedom when moving objects both horizontally and vertically in industrial settings where efficiency is critical.
Hammerhead cranes provide excellent reach and rotation capabilities due to their trademark horizontal boom design. Coupled with counterweights, these machines are used for lifting the heaviest loads over an extended period of time. Although they can’t be raised or lowered, their precise horizontal movements make them good choices for sites like shipyards or loading docks where many cranes may be operating at different heights at the same time.
Luffing Tower Cranes
Luffing tower cranes, also known as luffing-jib cranes, are similar to hammerhead cranes, but their automated robotic arm can be raised and lowered. This motion is called “luffing.” This added flexibility while lifting heavier weights combined with a smaller rotation radius gives them an advantage over more stationary crane designs and makes them good options for tighter construction zones.
Level-luffing cranes differ from luffing tower cranes because the hook used for lifting loads remains at the same level while luffing. This makes them ideal for tackling jobs where loads need to be moved carefully and close to ground-level, such as shipbuilding, freight loading, and construction. They can also be used on difficult terrain or locations where access is limited, making them the perfect solution for projects requiring precise lifts and controlled maneuvers.
Self-erecting cranes are compact, lightweight machines that can be easily set up and taken down, making them great for more cramped construction sites or short-term jobs. This means quicker turnaround times once they arrive at a location compared to other cranes, but their lighter build prevents them from lifting as much as other tower-style cranes.
Types of Mobile Cranes
Carry Deck Cranes
Carry deck cranes are fairly small in size compared to other cranes, so they’re often used for indoor projects or hauling objects across a construction site. They feature a flat platform on a four-wheel deck where cargo can be placed, allowing objects to be transported easily through tight areas such as warehouses.
Crawler cranes are distinguished by their broad tracks similar to those that a tank uses, so these heavy-duty cranes can operate even on difficult terrains. Crawler cranes have powerful engines and exceptional lifting capacity, making them a go-to workhorse for many construction projects.
Rough Terrain Cranes
Similar to crawler cranes, rough terrain cranes are designed specifically for jobs that take place on uneven ground conditions like sand or mud. These specialized machines combine the power of crawlers with the lightweight mobility of wheeled vehicles. However, what rough terrain cranes make up for in maneuverability, they sacrifice in lift capacity.
All-terrain cranes share similar features with rough terrain cranes, but all-terrain cranes can also be driven on the road. These cranes use wheels instead of the broad tracks of crawler cranes, allowing them to move easily between roads and construction sites.
Also known as boom trucks, vehicle mounted cranes, or truck mounted cranes, telescopic cranes feature a boom mounted to a truck bed. Although they are smaller in size and can’t lift heavier loads, they can safely travel on roads and transport lighter objects around construction sites (as long as the ground isn’t too muddy or uneven)..
Each of these types of cranes are powerful and versatile pieces of machinery that offer distinct benefits depending on the job at hand. So whether it be for a long- or short-term project, building a high-rise or hauling cargo over difficult terrain conditions, choosing the right construction crane will ensure the job is done safely and efficiently.