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By Dana Miller on January 06, 2022

What are the different types of cranes? The ultimate guide

Ever wondered – How many types of cranes are there? We will explore in our blog this basic and fundamental staple in the construction industry and how knowing a little more about the variety in types of cranes, you may be better informed to choose the best one for your project.


What is a crane?  

The crane dates back to ancient Greece, based on the simple principle of leverage. They continue to be an integral and essential part for all heavy construction work and enable any kind of lifting task that should arise, as there is now a crane for every need, every challenge and every work site.  

Crane design has progressed and developed alongside the construction industry and continues to evolve with ever-changing amendments. There are simply so many different types of cranes, all aimed to handle and support any type or method of work to be done. 

Crane design has evolved to meet the demands of a variety of industrial needs, and modern cranes often coordinate simple systems to achieve complex lifting tasks. Cranes are valuable assets for the construction industry, making previously difficult tasks easier and therefore enabling any type of construction. 


Different types of crane: 


Tower Cranes 

Tower Cranes are the type of cranes used to build the tallest of structures, like skyscrapers, for example. They consist of a vertical tower, know as the mast, along with an outstretched jib, which can rotate 360 degrees, which is called slewing. The trolly and hook can travel along the jib. Smaller mobile cranes are often needed to assemble tower cranes as well. 

There are three different types of tower cranes: Hammerhead cranes, Luffing tower cranes and self-erecting tower cranes. 


Hammerhead cranes 

Hammerhead cranes have a jib that rotates 360 degrees horizontally around the mast at a fixed level and resembles an inverted L shape. When the trolly moves, the load moves horizontally without changing its level and is the unique feature of this crane. Occasionally, the hammerhead crane are referred to as an A-frame tower crane, or as a topless/flat top tower crane. The difference between a topless tower and an A-frame crane is the presence of metal work above the crane connecting the jib to the counter jib. The flat top crane is often used with low head-room or where multiple cranes may slew above or under each other.  


Luffing tower cranes 

Luffing tower cranes are also known as a luffing jib crane. Although similar in design to a hammerhead tower crane, with the big difference being the jib that is latticed and can be either raised or lowered which is called luffing. Luffing tower cranes can lift heavier capacities however are more expensive. They are particularly useful in heavily congested areas though because of their ability to slew around each other. 


Self-erecting tower cranes 

Self-erecting tower cranes consist of a horizontal jib and mast, which is mounted to a ballast and can fold to be set up or dismantled on the site. They have a lighter frame, are easy to transport and have a lower max load capacity. They suit building sites that have limited space and where extremely heavy lifting is not required. 


Mobile cranes 

Mobile cranes have an outstretched arm, or boom, that is often referred to as a lattice or telescopic boom. That boom is mounted to a structure that travels either via treads or tyres. Mobile cranes consist of crawler cranes, rough terrain and all terrain cranes. The boom can rotate 360 degrees and extends to a variety of lengths which is dependent of the size of the crane itself, and, are easy to move between sites as well.  

Mobile Cranes available on Krank >  


Crawler cranes

Crawler cranes, which are also referred to lattice cranes, boom lattice cranes, lattice crawlers and telescopic crawlers, are the largest mobile cranes. They can lift the heaviest loads and require the most on-site assembly of all of the mobile cranes. Crawler cranes are so heavy-duty that they can lift in excess of 2500 tons. The assembly could include attaching the tracks, assembling the lattice boom, adding counterweights, all of which dependent on the weight of load required. 

The treads on crawler cranes provide adequate stability negating the use of outriggers. If the crane is having a lattice boom attached, for example, they can extend to further heights and distances, than if a telescopic boom is attached.  

Crawler Cranes available on Krank >  


Rough Terrain Cranes

Rough terrain cranes, which are also known as ‘RT’ cranes, are also a type of mobile crane, designed specifically to be used off-road in difficult situations like heavy snow, mud and other challenging environments.  These cranes are mounted on four tyres and use a telescoping boom for pick and carry operations up to 165 tons. Also, due to their compact frame, they are very useful for navigating and lifting in confined spaces. RT cranes are mounted on an undercarriage with tyres, they are easily set up and transported between sites. These cranes are operated from the cab, which swivels over the undercarriage in tandem with the boom’s movement. They are also stabilised for hoisting with the use of outriggers in place. 

Rough Terrain cranes available on Krank >  


All Terrain Cranes 

All terrain cranes are a type of mobile crane that can travel both on the road, as it is road safe, and equally on most off-road surfaces. Like a large lorry,  all terrain cranes have anywhere between 4 to 18 tyres, depending on their size. Each has a telescopic boom mounted onto the bed of the truck and is used to lift and move loads. All terrain cranes are capable of lifting much more than a RT crane, as much as 1200 ton capacity. However, they are less capable of navigating overly extreme environments or confined spaces like other cranes.  Like the rough terrain cranes, they are operated from a cab which again swivels over the truck bed in tandem wit the boom’s movement. They do require some on-site assembly to achieve stabilisation by outriggers and balancing of counterweights.  


Truck mounted lattice boom cranes

Truck-mounted lattice boom  cranes are mounted on a truck or lorry specially adapted to carry an increased load. The lorry can be driven from a front cab as a conventional vehicle, as well as having additional controls for a lattice mast or telescopic boom which extends in sections. Fly jib attachments can be used to increase lifting height. Their lifting capacity varies from 5 to 2,000 tonnes. These types of cranes are very transportable making them ideal for short hire periods. 

 Truck Mounted Lattice Boom Cranes available on Krank >  


Hydraulic cranes 

A hydraulic crane is a type of heavy-duty equipment used for lifting and hoisting. Unlike smaller cranes, which rely on electric or diesel-powered motors, hydraulic cranes include an internal hydraulic system that allows the crane to lift heavier loads. 

The Matsinen 300, for example, is arguably the largest hydraulic crane in the world with a lifting capacity of 50 tonnes and a reach of 40 metres. The crane, made by a Finnish company, is 30 metres tall and weighs nearly 500 tonnes. 

Hydraulic Cranes available on Krank >  


Telescopic Handler Crane  

Driven by a hydraulic mechanism, a telescopic crane features a set of concentric tubular steel booms which can be easily extended and retracted to alter the operational height of the crane. 

A very mobile crane, telescopic handler cranes are very compact and adaptable units which perform effectively where space is minimal and sparse. 

Telescopic cranes are widely used, including by rescue services, and to perform tasks such as launching and retrieving boats at the waterside. 


Bridge Crane 

A bridge crane consists of an overhead crane that is two parallel rails seated on longitudinal I-beams attached to opposite steel columns by means of brackets. The traveling bridge spans the gap. A hoist, the lifting component of a crane, travels along the bridge. If the bridge is rigidly supported on two or more legs running on two fixed rails at ground level, the crane is called a Gantry or Goliath crane.  

Overhead cranes are typically used for either manufacturing or maintenance applications, where efficiency or downtime are critical factors. 

Bridge Cranes available on Krank >  


Gantry Crane 

Using a hoist installed in a fixed machinery housing, a gantry crane employs a strong overhead gantry to lift and manoeuvre extremely heavy industrial loads. 

Gantry cranes and other so-called ‘overhead’ cranes, which also carry suspended loads in a similar way,  are used frequently  in factories and shipyards and similar commercial locations where their robustness is essential. 


Aerial Crane 

Aerial cranes have the largest range of any crane type, being part of an aircraft. 

Aerial cranes are attached to a helicopter with the lifting mechanism commonly used for lifting containers, temporary and pre-fabricated buildings, and timber, for example, in the logging industry. 

Lifting operations are completed using an aerial crane, are sometimes referred to as ‘longline’, as the load is attached to the crane by a single long line. 

These helicopters can operate in a broad range of landscapes, including areas it’s simply not feasible to use any other type of crane, including areas without roads, making them ideal for the job.  


Our Krank platform offers a wide variety of types of cranes and much more, so, why not take a look at the availability on and see for yourself! 

See all available Cranes on Krank >  






Published by Dana Miller January 6, 2022