The term ‘crane’—rooted deep within Middle English origins—might have remained constant throughout the centuries, but the machinery and structures it now represents have radically transformed.
With technology propelling evolution, an impressive variety of vehicles, machinery, and structures proudly bear the title of a ‘crane’.
From towering cranes that erect skyscrapers to mini-spider cranes perfect for tight spots in curtain wall constructions, the crane family is expansive.
If you’re a first-time crane hirer or even a seasoned manager wanting to brush up your knowledge, understanding the different types of cranes is crucial to ensuring you hire the right lifting equipment for your project.
At Premier Cranes, we’re eager to simplify the process for you.
We’ve crafted this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the world of cranes, ensuring the perfect fit for your upcoming project.
Mobile Cranes Vs. Tower Cranes
Categorising cranes is a cinch when you look at whether they’re mobile or need assembly on site.
Tower cranes, constructed on site for specific projects, are typically towering metal structures with a full 360-degree turning radius.
Frequently gracing large commercial construction projects, tower cranes can lift between 18 to 300 tonnes.
Sometimes, you’ll find tower cranes on tracks, enabling movement around a construction site – we call these rail-mounted cranes.
Understanding tower cranes paves the way for comprehending mobile cranes – versatile workhorses that are easily movable and can be transported to a construction site, eliminating the need for on-site assembly.
However, mobile cranes aren’t just a monolith – they come in various unique types.
The Different Types of Mobile Cranes
Mobile cranes can essentially be broken down into two types, those with wheels and those without wheels.
Cranes with wheels are traditionally thought of as your standard mobile crane, while cranes with tracks are often called crawler cranes.
Truck-mounted Cranes combine the maneuverability of a truck with the standard features of a crane.
Outriggers are used with a truck-mounted crane for additional stability, the advantage comes from a truck-mounted crane being able to mobilise to site quickly.
This makes them more cost-efficient than hiring a larger crane with a bigger radius for smaller lifts.
Similar to a truck-mounted crane, a Franna Crane (also known as a pick and carry crane) combines the mobility of a truck with the lifting power of a crane.
Unlike truck-mounted cranes, the boom of a franna crane is inbuilt into the chassis of the vehicle. This allows Franna Cranes to lift heavier weights without the need for outriggers.
However, it doesn’t allow for 360’ rotations as the direction of the boom is fixed, meaning it has a lot less rotational movement.
Frannas are better for lifting and moving heavier objects over greater distances compared to a truck-mounted crane. But, they have limited capabilities in other general applications.
Often used in compact urban environments, bubble cranes are typically four wheeled cranes that have the features and benefits of an all-terrain crane in a smaller design with a single cab (similar to a truck-mounted or franna crane).
This streamlined design comes at the cost of lifting capacity, but the taller boom and jib (crane arm) means bubble cranes are highly effective in smaller city spaces and completing residential lifts.
All Terrain Cranes
A vast majority of mobile cranes can be classified as all-terrain.
These cranes are road legal and can handle most off-road terrains.
Unlike the previous cranes mentioned, all-terrain cranes have a separate crane cabin from the driver’s cabin and are generally not able to move when performing lifts.
Through the use of additional lifting and rigging equipment such as stabilising bog mats and outriggers, these cranes can perform heavier lifts.
At Premier Cranes, we offer all-terrain cranes ranging in a lifting capacity of 40 tonnes to 250 tonnes. You can see our full range of mobile cranes here.
Spider (Mini-Crawler Cranes)
Designed to be used in tight spaces and indoors, mini crawler cranes are often remote-controlled cranes that can be used within factories or plants to help install industrial equipment.
Relative to their size, spider cranes can lift significantly heavier weights due to their four stabilising legs which are planted when performing lifts.
These legs are what gave the mini-crawler crane the nickname of the spider crane.
The least mobile of the mobile cranes are crawler cranes that use large metal tracks (similar to a military tank) instead of wheels to move around.
This makes them more effective on soft ground, but means they require heavy haulage vehicle assistance to and from a construction site which increases the cost of hire.
The range of configurations for a crawler crane is much more diverse than that of all other mobile crane types.
The lifting capacity of crawler cranes is greatly increased which makes them highly adaptable. Often, crawler cranes are used for longer-term projects due to this versatility.
Choosing the Right Type of Crane
If you need help in choosing the right type of crane for a lift, contact the team at Premier Cranes today!
With an experienced team of lifting and rigging experts, we can help you plan and complete your lift in a safe and efficient manner.
No matter how complex the project is, you can rely on Premier Cranes & Rigging to get the job done.
With Melbourne’s most dynamic fleet of mobile and crawler cranes, and a hand selected and trained team of Crane Operators, Riggers and Dogmen, we stand out from our competitors.
Whether it’s a small builder site, medium sized commercial project, or government-led infrastructure project, we thrive on providing safe solutions to your challenges.