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Cranes, Weight and Access: A Balancing Act

Cranes are fundamental tools in construction and logistics, but their operation hinges on a basic principle of physics: balance. The crane's weight plays a crucial role in ensuring stability and safety.


Here's how:


  • Counterbalance and Stability: The weight of a crane serves to counterbalance the load it lifts. As the boom extends to reach farther, the counterweight becomes more critical to prevent tipping.

  • Weight and Reach Correlation: There's a direct correlation between the reach of a crane and its required weight. The longer the reach, the heavier the crane must be to maintain stability.


And here lies the problem. Cranes need to be heavy to gain reach and capacity. But weight affects manoeuvrability and access.


Access - Mobile Crane
Access - Mobile Crane

Mobile Cranes: Maneuverability and Access


Access to job sites is a critical factor in crane operations.


Here's where mobile cranes shine:


  • Steering Axles for Maneuverability: Mobile cranes are often equipped with steering axles, enhancing their ability to navigate tight spaces and position accurately for the job.

  • Proximity to Job Sites: The closer a mobile crane can get to the lift point, the less reach is required, allowing for lighter, more compact cranes.



Access - 40 Tonne All Terrain
Access - 40 Tonne All Terrain


McLeod's Approach to Access and Mobility

At McLeod, understanding and adapting to diverse access requirements is our forte. Our fleet reflects this versatility:


  • From Spider to City Cranes: Our range includes spider and mini cranes, ideal for constrained spaces, and extends to our 13-tonne Kato City Cranes, perfect for urban environments.

  • Lightweight Yet Powerful: A 13-tonne City Crane, weighing about 3 Tonnes per wheel, offers an excellent balance between lifting capacity and compactness, making it suitable for residential areas and driveways.

  • Scaling Up with Caution: As crane capacity increases, so does the weight and width of the machine.

The Balancing Act: Weight vs. Access

The choice of crane is a careful balance between lifting capacity and site accessibility:


  • Assessing Site Constraints: Factors like driveway strength, space constraints, and overhead obstacles dictate the choice of crane.

  • Risk Management: Higher-capacity cranes bring added weight and width, increasing the risk to access routes, especially in residential or congested urban areas.


As we get even bigger with cranes, we start to have additional weight requirements with Counterweights. These are often delivered with semi-truck and trailer combinations to the crane.


The Crucial Role of Counterweights in Large Crane Operations


For large cranes, counterweights are not just an add-on; they are a critical component for safe and effective operation.


Understanding Counterweights

  • Significance: Counterweights provide the necessary balance to the crane, ensuring stability during lifting operations. The larger the crane, the more substantial the counterweight required.

  • McLeod's Largest Crane: For our 350-tonne Crane, weighing 76 tonnes, an impressive 120 tonnes of counterweight is needed. This figure highlights the scale of engineering and operational planning involved.


Managing such significant counterweights involves intricate logistics:


  • Separate Transport Requirements: Due to their massive weight, these counterweights often need to be transported separately to the job site.

  • Assembly and Disassembly: The process of attaching and detaching counterweights is a task that requires precision and expert handling.

Operational Challenges and Solutions

  • Increased Site Footprint: The addition of counterweights expands the operational footprint of the crane, necessitating more space and careful site planning.

  • Enhanced Safety Protocols: Counterweights' assembly, use, and disassembly demand safety protocols to protect the crew and the surrounding environment.


At McLeod, we have developed a systematic approach to handle these challenges:


  • Specialised Equipment and Crew: We employ specialised equipment and highly trained crews to manage counterweight logistics safely and efficiently.

  • Planning and Execution: Each step, from transportation to assembly, is planned and executed to ensure seamless integration with the overall crane operation.

  • Adherence to Safety Standards: Safety is paramount in all our operations, especially with heavy counterweights' added complexity.


At McLeod, these challenges are faced day to day. We work with our customers to manage the risk and are open about possible options. Having a range of equipment gives McLeod and our customers choices that can help achieve the project when access becomes a concern.

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