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By Sher Ali on February 22, 2022

Cranes: Everything you need to know

What is a crane?

It’s the obvious place to start, but defining ‘What is a crane?’, is not quite as straightforward as you think. There are so many different types, make and models of construction machines, but few can match the versatility and power that comes with cranes. These large machines allow you to move heavy loads, transport themselves elsewhere or both, depending on what is needed out there in your workplace. Put most simply the crane is a versatile construction machine that can be used to move loads horizontally and vertically. When equipped with hoist ropes, cable ropes and sheaves the vehicles can transform themselves to help complete many jobs. The multiple mechanical benefits created by these components creates powerful strength.

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Parts of a crane

Cranes are useful for lifting heavy or bulky materials, and moving them around industrial sites. They come in many different designs depending on the application that needs to be met - but all have some basic components like engines which power its movements. Each component serves a specific role when combined with others; this allows greater control, precision, power or reach. Working with cranes is a team effort. You can't do any one thing well enough on your own, so it's important for you to understand how all of these different parts work together and what their functions are in order get the most out of them when working near or far from site. The cab contains information about load size etc., which may be useful while lifting heavy items. The arm has joints at various heights allowing workers access into tough spaces without having an extend up high into tallest buildings. Let’s discuss the major components of a crane in more detail:


Hooks are vital component parts when it comes to operating a crane, as they hold up and connect the weighty loads like containers or heavy machinery. However, over time this crucial component will experience wear that needs replacing on an annual basis for proper functionality.


Crane's hoist element provides the vertical lifting and lowering power. Depending on their model they can lift up to 5 tons with a chain design, or more than that in some cases if it is an electric powered one


The crane's trolley system provides the horizontal movement power. It is designed to move hoist and hook components along a track or beam across top (top-running) or bottom (bottom running). Some cranes have bogies, short end trucks that allow for additional wheels at each corner of the vehicle in order to distribute weight more efficiently when lifting very heavy objects.


When a crane system is in operation, the bridge element carries all of its weight and allows for horizontal movement. It runs throughout the length to allow trolleys, hooks or hoists to be attached at either end, that can then move across your worksite with whatever load you're trying lift up. The structure that supports everything on top consists mainly from large metal beams called girders; these will be moved by trucks encased within them.


The boom is one of the largest parts, often visible from miles away depending on how big a crane you have. It's like an arm that holds up all your heavy items and sends materials far off into another direction where they're needed most


Outriggers are crane parts that provide extra safety when lifting and moving materials around the job site. These brackets, along with counterweights ensure cranes stay stable and standing even after transporting heavy loads. The outriggers mean the cranes lift off of their wheels so there's no chance for them shift position as a result of wheel movements.

When were cranes invented?

The first compound pulley was created by Archimedes of Syracuse around 287 - 212 BC, which he used to lift an entire warship with its crew. This innovative system had many advantages and pitfalls that needed attention when using it for heavier loads or ships at sea level where there's more Gravity pulling down on each side; but Archimedes deduced if you're up high enough off shore then these problems go away. This new invention quickly spread throughout Europe until eventually evolving into what we know today as a "Compound Pulley". Winches and capstans were used by the Romans to build temples, but they had some drawbacks. One of which was that you could not move quickly or easily because it required too much manpower with slow lifting speeds; this led to cranes evolving eventually to be power-driven wheels with arm spans able enough handle heavy loads at once, while being mobile through circular rotation.

Another major development in the history of cranes was the treadwheel which was invented in 1225, and it's one of the oldest cranes out there. It became popular for mines, harbors (like Utrecht), building sites where they had a major lifting role. The earliest widespread examples of treadwheels are around 1331 when English settlers put these heavy machinery types in action again after having lost land.

How does a crane work?

A crane works by leveraging it’s size, height and length, but their structures have been developed to make lifting as efficient and effective as possible. The mast of a crane is usually bolted to large concrete pad that can weigh as much 400,000 pounds. It's the tall part sticking up in air and it looks kind-of like a ship’s mast. But instead of sailing through the sea, these masts help move

building materials, supported by heavy steel bases. Cranes work in different ways. They can be good examples of how simple mechanics, such as balance and pulleys cranes can complete jobs with little force needed. In comparison there are crane styles which rely more heavily on more complex leverage or friction-based systems

A working arm (or jib) is a long section that provides horizontal movement; it's sometimes called "the lurch". There are many different components that make up each individual machine part. The boom is a bit like an off-center see-saw with its fulcrum much closer to one end than the other, so it gives huge leverage. Essentially this makes it easy for cranes lifting heavy things while using less force; because of how far away from the pivot point they are when elevated high. You can actually easily move them around once suspended in midair without too much difficulty either way.

Types of cranes

There are numerous types of crane used today at construction sites depending upon their load holding capacities and height. When it comes to different types of cranes, there are two main categories: static cranes and mobile cranes. A static or stationary crane at a port or breaker's yard will have the need for very little movement, while being used for an activity that requires specifically what they're designed to do. For example loading and unloading cargo from ships that dock at the same unloading point each day; however, these limitations can be advantageous for examples you can create a very well defined safety area, you don't want your equipment getting away from crane operator’s control and causing an accident.

Crawler cranes

There are types of mobile cranes that all have their own unique features. The crawler is one of the easiest to recognize because there's a basic cab, an open lattice boom (made up mostly by lattice struts you can see through) and it’s caterpillar tracks. The caterpillar tracks make these machines highly moveable and essentially stops any sinking in soft footings, during lifting operation due weight being distributed across a large surface area.

Crawler cranes for sale on Krank > 

Truck cranes

Truck-based cranes are often described as the most versatile crane type and can be used for general purpose lifting. The driving cab at the front allows them to move around easily using standard roads, while the boom mounted on the back of the truck provides lifting fot heavier duty tasks when needed. Booms can be solid or have hydraulic arms that extend up into the air depending upon the reach needed. The Truck Crane has been one of this industry's favorite models since it first came out, because not only does its design allow you versatility, but also convenience in terms moving around various locations without having any trouble whatsoever.

Tower cranes

Tower cranes are an efficient way of getting heavy objects into the air. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but all have one thing common: their ability to lift enormous weights off ground using nothing more than hydraulics. Tower cranes are mainly used for construction projects. Some of them can be raised up from the ground, and others use a hydraulic mechanism that locks new pieces into place when it's needed; this saves time money and effort.


A Derrick is a type of static crane. The are one of the simplest which can come in framework or tower format from which a hoisting pulley is suspended. They come with or without booms helping the weight increase as needed for lifting operations. They are commonly used on Oil rigs where they use simple vertical towers that provide height adjustments while being efficient at what's asked of them. Derricks are a great example of you don't need anything too extravagant when getting things done quickly.

Read our blog post on different types of crane > 

How much do cranes weigh?

The average weight of a crane can vary greatly. It depends on it’s size, the lifting requirement, the type of crane, attachments and more. A simple answer to this is that cranes can weight anywhere from 10 tons, with a boom of about 20 meters, to 300 tons (larger ones) with a boom length of around 60 meters.

Do I need a license for a crane machine?

In the United States and United Kingdom, you require a license and the appropriate training to operate a crane. Operating cranes is complex and potentially dangerous with both capital intensiveness and human lives involved. Therefore, in many workplaces it is by law requirement. Also the employer is also obliged to provide adequate safety and security standards to their employees with proper trainings, workshops, practice sessions and license acquiring.

How do cranes get into construction sites?

Due to the size of cranes, many people ask “How are cranes moved & erected?”. For instance, when a tower crane arrives at the construction site, it's not just one piece that gets assembled. Instead there are 10-12 rigs with about 20 pieces in total: A jib (or blade) and machinery section made up of four horizontal members attached to two mast sections; these get weighed down by counterweights. The foundation of the mast is a large, triangulated lattice structure. The strong and durable nature make it so that this type can remain upright no matter what happens around them. To grow to its maximum height, the crane grows itself one mast section at a time. The crew uses an artificial top climber or climbing frame that fits between their slewing unit and top section of the mast. So in summary moving and erecting a crane could take many deliveries on numerous lorries, then the crane itself helps to erect.

What are the most popular brands of Crane?

The following are some of the most famous manufacturers of cranes:

  • Manitowoc
  • Terex
  • Liebherr
  • Terex
  • Hiab
  • Kobelco
  • Tadano

Published by Sher Ali February 22, 2022