Types of Cranes and Their Parts

Cranes are often used on construction sites to move loads of materials from one level to another. However, not all cranes are made the same. According to a report by the Material Handling Industry of America (which is available online here), there are four main types of cranes: jib, bridge, gantry, and stacker. These vary a bit, but there are certain parts that are found with most types of cranes. You can further categorize cranes according to their setup, and many construction sites operate with multiple types of cranes. These parts include the boom, job, outriggers, counterweights, cable, hook, and more. If you’ll be operating a crane on the job, it is important to learn about the parts of the crane you’ll be using. Preventing injuries starts with education.

Most people recognize a crane by the boom. The boom is the large metal beam that extends and moves to lift the load. At the base of the boom, you’ll find a winch – a crank that moves the ropes (which are actually steel cables) to help raise and lower the load. You’ll also find an operator’s cab, which is were a person can sit or stand to control the crane’s movements, including the winch, the boom movement, the brakes, and more. The cab sometimes sits on a rotating gear, which allows the cab to spin, giving the operator a full view of the area surrounding the crane. Outriggers and counterweight help to keep the crane balanced, and of course, you need cables and a hook to lift the load. Most cables have a large metal ball in addition to the hook, which helps to keep the cable from swinging uncontrollably when there is no load being lifted.

What are the differences between types of cranes? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and OSHA have teamed up to provide a really helpful guide to the types of cranes generally found in a workplace, which can be viewed online through the NOAA learning center here. Here are some of the most common types of cranes:

  • Wheel-Mounted Cranes: Most smaller workplaces have some form of wheel-mounted crane, which usually uses either a telescopic (extendable) or latticework.
  • Overhead Cranes: The most common type of overhead crane is the gantry, which uses a single or double leg system supported by the floor and walls. Bridge crane systems are also overhead systems, though these are mounted on tracks. With overhead cranes, you don’t have a tradition boom – the arm of the crane – so some people don’t immediately recognize these as “cranes.” Overhead systems aren’t usually mobile from site to site (though they are mobile over small distances in some cases) – they are set up in factories and other locations for long-term use.
  • Hammerhead Tower Cranes: Hammerhead tower cranes are identifiable for their tall fixed towers. They have long arm and counterweight that creates a “T” shape , and the trolley raises and lowers the hook system. There is less mobility with a tower crane, but they can typically handle much larger loads. Tower cranes are similar to derricks, which (instead of the T shape) have an arm at an angle hat can be raised a lowered.

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There are tons of other types of cranes as well, which you can read about here. The parts of a crane are similar no matter which type you are operating, and remember – the most important parts are those that control crane safety. An overloading indicator system, brakes, and counterweights are important to keep the crane operator and others on the ground safe. If you have been injured in a crane accident contact a crane accident lawyer> today.

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