Types of Cranes Used in Construction

7 January, 2021

There are various types of cranes used in construction and for different purposes. Cranes in construction are used to lift or lower objects and move them horizontally. Either way, all cranes are equipped with pulleys and cables that are useful when it comes to moving objects around.

They are usually temporary structures that are either mounted on a custom-built vehicle or fixed to the ground. They are controlled remotely or by a professional operator who moves in a cab along with the crane. Like with all other items in construction, the crane operator has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the construction site, the working crane, and the rigging crew.

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12 Popular Types of Cranes used in Construction

Types of port cranes

The different types of cranes come with varying capabilities and features that determine their use. These features include the lifting capacity, lifting range, lift angle, the working radius, mobility, weight & dimensions, setup time, and night working capabilities. These features will determine the kind of crane needed for the construction industry.

Here are the 12 most popular types of lifting cranes used in construction today:

    1. Mobile Cranes
    2. Vehicle Mounted Cranes
    3. Rough Terrain Cranes
    4. All Terrain Cranes
    5. Crawler Cranes
    6. Railroad Cranes
    7. Aerial Cranes
    8. Tower Cranes
    9. Telescopic Cranes
    10. Overhead Cranes
    11. Loader Cranes
    12. Floating Cranes


Mobile Cranes

Mobile cranes are the most standard and versatile crane used in construction today. They are the most basic of all cranes and consists of a steel truss or telescopic boom mounted on a mobile platform, which could be a rail, wheeled, or even on a cat track. The boom is hinged at the bottom and can be either raised or lowered by cables or hydraulic cylinders.

There are plenty of lifting operations where the use of a tower crane would not be practical. Activities like indoor lifts or statue lifting cannot be engineered using static tower cranes. The best solution is, therefore, to use the mobile crane. These crane types are faster to set up and flexible and able to access areas where the static crane can’t reach. These cranes also do not need a lot of space and are cost-efficient since they are cheaper than the other major types of cranes. Let’s have a look at the different types of mobile cranes.

Vehicle Mounted Cranes

These types of cranes used in construction usually have one engine used for both the crane and undercarriage. They are mounted on rubber tires trucks, which offer excellent mobility. There are outriggers used in stabilizing the truck by expanding it vertically or horizontally and level the crane when it is hoisting a load of materials.

The capacity of these cranes rarely exceeds 50-ton capacity. The main advantage of the vehicle-mounted cranes is that they can travel on the highways without the help of a unique vehicle, making them easy to use and less expensive. These cranes also can be rotated 180 degrees, though some can rotate to 360 degrees. The ones that rotate 360 degrees are more expensive.

Rough Terrain Cranes

A rough terrain crane is a crane mounted on an undercarriage with four rubber tires designed for off-road operations where a typical vehicle mounted crane is not suitable. The outriggers extend vertically and horizontally to level and stabilize the crane when hoisting.

These cranes have single-engine machines where the same engine used for powering the undercarriage is the same one used for powering the crane. They are ideal for construction sites that have uneven, dirt, and rocky terrain. The mobility and ability of the crane to travel around the site make it an effect support crane for lighter hoists on highway, construction, and infrastructure projects.

All Terrain Cranes

It is also a mobile that can move at the same speed on paved roads as well as in rough terrains. Therefore it can be used in both applications. It has more wheels than a typical vehicle, and they balance the vehicle without overturning in rough terrains.

types of cranes used in construction

Crawler Cranes

Crawler cranes have the crane mounted on a caterpillar track giving them supreme mobility and strength to handle hefty loads. They are mobile and also require little setup because they are robust and do not need outriggers. A crawler track also makes work on unprepared job sites easy.

In places where the ground is soft, the broad base of a crawler crane helps to distribute weight through a wider area, hence preventing the crawler crane from sinking amidst a lift. The major drawback of this machine is that it is expensive and difficult to move from one site to another. However, this type of crane can still be moved with the help of trucks, therefore, reducing the cost of transportation.

Railroad Cranes

Railroad cranes are useful for the construction of railway lines and repairing and maintenance of railroads. These have flanged wheels at its bottom which can be moved in rail track only.

Aerial Cranes

These are also called sky cranes. They look like a helicopter and are useful when the target is difficult to reach by land or to lift large loads to high rise buildings.

Tower Cranes

A tower crane is a modern make of the balance crane most commonly used on urban construction sites. When this crane is fixed to the ground during the construction period, it offers the best combination of lifting capacity and height. These cranes are attached using a substantial concrete base and anchored by large bolts which can be removed easily after construction. They are used mostly in the construction of tall, multi-story buildings. It is important to note that when the tower crane constructs past a certain height, it would be essential to have it connected to the construction building to help prevent the crane from swaying or tipping.

The best thing about tower cranes is that they surpass the lifting and loading capacity of all other kinds of cranes. Their height capacity too cannot be matched the other cranes. Tower cranes are incredibly stable and can endure tough tasks. The downside is that they are costly and need a lot of effort and time to move from one point to another. The maintenance costs for repairs and depreciation are also high. Despite being costly, industrial constructors can still achieve their goals with these machines by hiring to avoid high expenses.


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Telescopic Crane

These cranes comprise large booms fitted with tubes from the inside. A telescopic crane increases its height using the tubes by a hydraulic mechanism. This crane is mostly useful in transporting goods from one point to another. However, the telescopic crane is best at transferring objects to higher positions. This is because the crane can adjust its height. These cranes are also in rescue operations.

Overhead Crane

An overhead crane is also referred to as a suspended crane. They are commonly used in factories, with some being able to lift extremely heavy loads. Bigger overhead cranes are also called goliath cranes and can be used in shipyards and in large outdoor manufacturing plants. This type of crane has its hoist set on a trolley that moves in one direction along a beam or two. The beams move at angles to the direction of the trolley along raised or ground level tracks which are often mounted along the sides of an assembly area.

Loader Crane

Also known as a folding boom crane, a loader crane is a hydraulically powered articulated arm fitted to a trailer used to load equipment onto a trailer. The numerous sections can be folded into a small space when the crane isn’t in use and the crane is easy to fold hence can be easily transported. The capacity of these cranes has increased dramatically over the years. Presently there are 200-ton capacity loader folding boom cranes on the market today.

Floating Crane

Floating cranes are also called crane ship, crane vessel, or floating crane. They are are used for bridge or port construction, and also to load and unload ships. They have a capacity of up to 9000 tons.

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