The word ‘crane’ has been a long used term dating back to Middle English origins. While the word itself has remained the same, the type of machinery and structures we refer to as a crane has greatly evolved as technology has advanced.
A wide array of different vehicles, machinery and structures are now referred to as a crane.
From tower cranes which are used in high-rise building construction to mini-spider cranes that are used in tight areas to hold up curtain walls.
While most managers and crane hirers in the industry have a strong knowledge of different crane types and their uses, if you’re hiring a crane for the first time it can be confusing.
Understanding the different types of cranes is crucial to ensure you are hiring the right lifting equipment for your needs. We’ve created a thorough explanation of the different types of cranes to help you make the right choice for your upcoming project
Mobile Cranes Vs. Tower Cranes
The easiest way to differentiate between cranes is whether they are mobile (as in able to be moved around) or need to be assembled on site.
If a crane is assembled onsite for the duration of a specific construction project it is referred to as a tower crane.
Tower cranes are commonly a vertical metal structure with a large boom that has a full 360-degree turn angle. Typically at least 30 metres tall, Tower cranes are often used on large commercial construction projects and can lift anywhere between 18 and 300 tonnes of weight depending on the type of lift.
On particular projects, tower cranes will be on tracks so that they can move in a set direction around a construction site. These types of tower cranes are commonly referred to as rail-mounted cranes.
By understanding what a tower crane is, you’ve gained some insight into what constitutes a mobile crane.
A mobile crane is essentially any crane that is easily movable and can be transported to a construction site, rather than needing to be assembled piece by piece at the site of the lifts.
However, unlike a tower crane, there are several distinct types of mobile cranes.
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. You can read more about Franna Cranes here! Or check out out 25 Tonne and 40 Tonne Franna Cranes!
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. Call (03) 9311 1499 or enquire online today about our lifting solutions!