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Comparing the Costs: Mobile Crane vs Hiab (Truck Loader Crane)

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

The construction industry often poses challenging questions regarding the right equipment for a specific task. One common debate centres around choosing a crane or a Hiab (Truck Loader Crane).

Crane and Hiab
Crane and Hiab Tandem Lift

Though many believe that using a Hiab is invariably cheaper, the reality is more complex. This detailed comparison, keeping in mind the comprehensive services provided by McLeod, helps in understanding the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of both Cranes and Hiabs.

Efficiency and Precision

  • Design Advantage: Cranes, especially Mini Cranes / 10 Tonne City Crane and 20/25 Tonne City Crane or Rough Terrain, are designed to get closer to the work, making them more efficient on-site.

  • Precision: The wire rope and dual hooks (auxiliary and main) provide a more precise experience during lifting and positioning.

  • Greater Capacity: Modern cranes can commonly exceed 200 Tonnes.

  • Range: The range of crane options is often greater, from small to very large. You're more likely to find the right machine to fit the challenge.

  • Radius: Cranes can reach a larger radius.

  • Counterweight Swing: Concerns mitigated with technology like Variobase or asymmetric outriggers. However cranes have a Counterweight which swings over the side and hiabs don't.

  • Mini Cranes: Adapting to meet the market with attachments like beam or glass manipulators.

  • Operator: View and ability to see what's happening and respond.

  • Dogman: Speeds up the task

Hiab and 4x4 Hiab

  • Design Limitation: Generally less efficient on-site. (Often no rope, have a knuckle to deal with, lighter lifting capacities)

  • Short Rig Capability: Known for avoiding live traffic lane interference.

  • Capacity: The Hiab is a puzzle of the Weight of the Crane vs the Payload. The larger the crane, the less payload. So a heavy payload may result in less lift ability. However hiabs are great for light payloads (frames / truses etc)

  • Knuckle boom reach: Have the ability to reach into buildings. (Up and In). They can also reach over with Aux jibs and Hydraulic in to difficult locations.

  • Attachments: Availability of specific attachments like concrete barrier grabs, grapples, pallet forks etc.

  • Operator: Acts as both Dogman and Crane Operator. This increases the Hiabs hire time compared to a crane while reducing labour costs. The Hiab earns a higher rate than the Dogman, so this effect is often counterproductive.

  • Remote: Some cranes have this but ultimately it's the Hiab Operators and there remotes that rule the roost. The Hiab Operator can move and stand in the best position.

Flat Deck Semi Transport
Flat Deck Semi Transport

Transport Component

  • Transport Collaboration: Effective when working with a flat deck for longer distances. A flat deck is often cheaper than the Hiab.

  • Higher Truck Capacity and Greater Crane Precision: Make it often more cost-effective to match a specific truck and payload with a crane for the specific job.

  • Integrated Lifting and Transport: Useful for short distances. Last mile delivery.

  • Load Weight Consideration: The value diminishes as the load weight exceeds the allowable transport weight. There is a compromise between Hiab Payload and Lift Capacity.

  • Fuel Adjustment Factor: This may affect the overall cost. If it is just a crane, you require.

Comparing Strengths and Limitations

Hiab Transport
Hiab Transport

  • Cranes: Greater lifting capacity, precision in lifting, and new technology allows greater options to fit the crane on site in a multitude of locations. Two hooks and a wire rope, sounds simple but cranes often have two hooks and this allows some clever options.

  • Hiabs: Integrated lifting and transport, ability to short rig (no tail swing), and specialised attachments. Ideal for light loads and jobs where you pick up the load transport it and then place the load.

  • Cranes: Counterweight tail swing may be a concern but new tech like variobase often means it can still be done. Can't transport the load.

  • Hiabs: Less efficient and precise on-site, load weight considerations, and fuel adjustment factor reduces cost as they alter but can come as a extra expense if not correctly catered for.

McLeod's Expertise

At McLeod, we are committed to working along side you and your project with our cranes, hiabs, and other logistics services. With the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and central North Island regions as our core service areas, our highly skilled operators utilise modern equipment selected to meet unique project needs.

McLeod Services

  • Crane Hire: With a range of sizes and types.

  • Mini Crane Hire: Includes innovative attachments like beam or glass manipulators.

  • Hiab Transport: Provides short rigging and specialized attachments like concrete barrier grabs.

  • Engineering Consultancy: Ensuring optimal efficiency and safety.

The choice between a Crane and a Hiab is not merely about cost but involves understanding the unique capabilities, strengths, and limitations of each.

From the higher capacity of cranes to the specialized abilities of Hiabs, McLeod's expertise in the field ensures that the right choice is made according to the project's requirements.

Whether you need a high-capacity crane or a Hiab with specific attachments, McLeod stands ready to assist with personalized and reliable service. Contact McLeod for a consultation tailored to your needs, and let us provide the precise equipment to make your project successful.

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