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Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Cranes and Their Applications

Updated: May 19

Cranes are an essential part of the construction industry, offering a unique blend of power, reach, and mobility that sets them apart from other types of heavy machinery.

These versatile machines come in various types and sizes, each designed for specific tasks and environments. From mobile cranes that can be easily transported to and from job sites to towering cranes designed for constructing skyscrapers, each type of crane plays a crucial role in various construction projects.

In this post, we will delve into the different types of cranes, including mobile cranes, tower cranes, mini cranes, and more specialized models like spider cranes, gantry cranes, and self-erecting tower cranes.

We'll explore their unique features, advantages, and ideal applications, providing a comprehensive guide for construction professionals and enthusiasts.

Gantry Cranes

Gantry cranes, or portal cranes, are built atop a gantry, a structure used to straddle an object or workspace. They range vastly in size and capacity, from large 'full' gantries capable of lifting some of the heaviest loads in the world to smaller indoor workshop cranes.

Gantry Crane
Cab Controlled Gantry Crane

Gantry cranes are typically used for moving heavy objects in various settings. They are commonly found in shipyards, used to move large ship components or even entire ships. In manufacturing settings, they can transport heavy materials or equipment across the production floor.

One of the main advantages of a gantry crane is that it can lift and move heavy objects in a straight line along the track or rail installed under the gantry. This makes it ideal for tasks that require a steady, precise lift, such as positioning large parts during assembly.

Mini Cranes

Mini cranes are compact and lightweight, ideal for small and confined spaces. Despite their small size, they can be surprisingly powerful, with some models capable of lifting up to 10 tons.

Mini Crane
Mini Crane

Mini cranes are often used in indoor construction or renovation projects, such as shopping centres or office buildings, where larger cranes would be impractical. They are also popular in landscaping and for installing large glass panels.

Spider Cranes

Spider cranes, named for their spider-like appearance when their outriggers are extended, are a type of mini crane. They are designed to be incredibly compact and versatile, able to fit through standard doorways and operate in confined spaces.

Spider Crane
Spider Crane

Spider cranes are often used in construction, maintenance, and installation projects where space is limited, or access is difficult. This includes high-rise construction, curtain wall installation, and even inside buildings for renovations or installations.

Truck Loader Cranes (Hiabs)

Truck loader cranes, also known as Hiabs (a brand which has become a generic term), are mounted directly onto a truck chassis and are used for loading and unloading the vehicle. They are equipped with a hydraulic-powered boom that can extend directly from the base, providing a great deal of flexibility and reach.

Hiab - Truck Loader Crane
Truck Loader Crane (Hiab)

Hiabs are often used in transport and logistics, construction, and any other industry that requires the loading and unloading heavy goods. They are particularly useful when it would be impractical to use a larger, separate crane to load and unload the truck.

Pick and Carry Cranes (FrannA)

Pick and Carry cranes, often called Franna cranes, are a unique blend of power and mobility. These cranes are designed to pick up heavy loads and transport them over short distances within a job site, eliminating the need for a separate transport vehicle.

Pick and Carry Crane
Pick and Carry Crane (Franna or Tidd)