The Most Common Types of Mobile Cranes

Though you may be more familiar with large tower cranes that loom above a high-rise downtown construction site, there is a much wider range of cranes that are available on the market for construction, trade, and industrial uses. Today, we’ll be covering mobile cranes.

Mobile cranes, which are usually able to move freely around construction projects, tackle difficult terrain, and handle a range of necessary tasks. These construction industry superstars help ensure that projects can roll forward much more efficiently than they would be able to manage without them.

The mobile crane industry includes cranes that can drive on public roads with a telescopic boom, carry deck cranes that can squeeze into tight spaces, as well as all-terrain cranes that are capable of traveling a short distance across very difficult terrain. Other cranes, such as crawler cranes, require a separate truck to carry the crane and related equipment to the job site. In this article, we’ll go over the 10 major types of mobile cranes that are available on the market, including both the common and the not-so-common options that available for your project.

Common Types of Mobile Cranes

There are several types of mobile cranes, but you’re more likely to see the ones in this section in the field, as others will often have a purpose tied specifically to the type of transportation they’re used with. You’ll find all of these common crane types available for rental at Superior Rigging & Erecting Co.

Carry Deck Crane

A carry deck crane is great for getting into and out of small spaces, making it perfect for the later phases of construction when something must be moved into a tight location, such as an alleyway or access hall. They’re also very easy to set up and are capable of rotating a full 360 degrees, making them a workhorse on the job site. These small cranes are capable of lifting between 8 and 18 tons, depending on the model you select for rental. Combined with their size, this makes it easy to get them exactly where they’re needed.

Rough Terrain Cranes

Rough terrain cranes will often have four very large wheels on a compact body, making it easier to maneuver into difficult spaces or over rocks and other project site debris. Much like carry deck cranes, they can get into tight spaces, but unlike those cranes, they can also handle difficult terrain without the size limitations of all-terrain cranes. With the capability of lifting between 25 and 110 tons depending on the model, rough terrain cranes do a great job of heavy lifting beyond the capability of a carry deck crane, giving you advanced capability without sacrificing the small footprint you need to get into tight spaces.

All-Terrain Crane

Tadano All-Terrain Crane

Less compact than rough terrain cranes, all-terrain cranes have a four-wheel drive system paired with either a single engine or a pair of engines. Because they can be driven on public roads, there’s a seat belt installation requirement for the control system area. They can feature as many as nine pairs of wheels, with several of these pairs being able to turn to reduce the turning radius. The all-terrain cranes at Superior Rigging and Erecting Co. are capable of lifting between 110 and 330 tons, helping with a great many tasks on the job site.

Crawler Crane

Crawler cranes are laid out in a similar style to a carry deck crane, but feature tracks rather than tires. This provides superior all-terrain capability, especially on soft or fragile soils where tires may lose traction and tear up the surface further. The tracks also allow the crane to work in marshy areas where the ground may be damp because it spreads out the crane’s weight across the entirety of the tracks and outriggers. They also have similarities to hydraulic excavators, with the capability of turning 360 degrees. They typically feature a lattice boom and are able to lift loads between 4.24 and 330 tons, allowing you to manage heavier lifting in a relatively small footprint.

Boom Truck Crane

Superior Rigging white truck crane

Sometimes referred to simply as a boom truck, this type of crane includes either a folding or telescoping boom that allows the crane to move heavy loads high into the air, whether to deliver materials to a crew on a different floor or lift equipment into place. The stiff boom of a telescoping boom truck allows materials to be lifted vertically, as well as within a range of degrees to either side of the rear of the truck. The boom truck cranes at Superior Rigging and Erecting Co. are capable of handling loads between 23 and 45 tons, while still providing the ease of transport and use of a larger truck. However, for heavier loads, the hydraulic truck-mounted crane, listed next, may be a better option to consider, as they have more flexibility in terms of load weight and capability.

Hydraulic Truck-Mounted Crane

A truck-mounted crane is typically used for loading and unloading equipment, as well as other tasks that are handled near the ground, or can be used as a full crane for your construction site. These cranes offer exceptional mobility and are able to move around the job site to where they are needed most. Our rental hydraulic truck cranes have maximum lifting capacities ranging from 50 tons to 110 tons.

Other Types of Mobile Cranes

These types of mobile cranes are seen less often, because they are usually tied to a specific type of transportation, such as water, air, or rail, or as in the case of a gantry crane, are used for moving very heavy loads around ports and other locations where public access may be significantly limited.

Gantry Crane

A gantry crane is a type of overhead crane supported by freestanding legs that move on wheels along a track or rail system. At SRE, we use these types of cranes in our rigging process, indoors at sites with a lot of equipment that is hard to navigate around, as well as with lifting and moving art pieces and industrial equipment. They are also common for outdoor use like removing cargo from ships.

Floating Crane

Often used as a mobile harbor crane, a floating crane may also be used for lifting I-beams and related material for roadwork crossing a body of water or for oil and gas activities where heavy equipment must be moved into place on an oil rig.

Aerial Cranes

As an extremely specialized crane, aerial cranes have an extremely narrow use case. Generally, these are heavy-lift helicopters that have been outfitted for lifting in areas other cranes can’t access, such as high-rises, military jobs, or for disaster relief. We offer rigging services for helicopter lifts.

Railroad Crane

Also referred to as a locomotive crane, a railroad crane has flanged wheels to move on railroad tracks. They are often used for the maintenance of rail cars or similar activities and may be purpose-built for the tasks that are required at the time.

Mobile Crane Rentals from Superior Rigging and Erecting Co.

Because our clients have such a diverse range of needs, Superior Rigging and Erecting Co. offers a wide range of cranes, including all of those listed in the first section. They are capable of lifting loads 8 to 330 tons, making it much easier for you to get your materials where they’re needed and positioned for an efficient working environment. All of our cranes are regularly inspected to ensure that they meet safety standards, and lifting plans are created to help ensure better safety on the construction site.

As you can see, we think that the most important thing about operating a crane is safety. A mobile crane operator needs to be able to do more than simply pass a practical exam, they need to have a strong understanding of how their equipment works so that it doesn’t tip when doing heavy lifting. There is no specialty examination that exists that can take the place of experience. That’s why Superior Rigging also offers crane operators for hire. Superior’s operators spend their time working with this type of equipment on a daily or weekly basis, honing their experience on each crane model.

If you’re ready to move forward with your construction project and need a crane rental, a crane operator, or rigging to pull off your job, Superior Rigging and Erecting Co. is ready to help. Our highly qualified team is ready to help you find the right solutions for your job site needs. Please feel free to contact us today with any questions, for more details, or to request a quote on our services.

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