A Guide To The Main Kinds Of Crane

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Mechanical crane systems have an immensely long history – stretching back around 5000 years. In ancient Mesopotamia, engineers developed the shadouf. The shadouf was used to lift large amounts of water into irrigation ditches and is the forbear of all modern cranes. The technology was then passed on to the ancient Egyptians and subsequently spread around the world.

As you might expect of an invention so immensely useful and ancient, the basic crane has diversified in appearance, operation, and use in the last 5000 years. What follows is a quick guide to some of the most significant types of cranes in use today.

Tower

Tower cranes are some of the most popular kinds of lifting devices. Companies like Maxim crane hire Manchester primarily deal in tower crane hire and management. They are by far the most efficient type of crane for urban construction and demolition projects. Tower cranes are stored in parts and assembled on site. They use a counterweight system to stay balanced and a wire and pulley system to lift objects. The crane operator sits in a cab suspended next to the base of the arm – which is sometimes hundreds of feet up in the air.

Self-building tower cranes use the power of their motor to self assemble in an elegant unfolding movement.

Mobile

Although tower cranes are somewhat mobile, they do take time to set up. For smaller jobs that do not involve especially heavy loads, truly mobile cranes are often used. These cranes are usually mounted on trucks, boats, and trains. They are usually of the extending variety, although cranes mounted on rail vehicles are sometimes hammerhead designs used to lift heavy derailed train cars. Boat-mounted cranes are used for loading fish, dropping lifeboats into the water, and many other things. They are essential on almost all large seagoing vessels.

Gantry

Gantry cranes are typically used in railyards and boatyards – essentially any place where a load can be lifted and placed on a vehicle without having to be moved side to side. The advantage of a gantry crane is its incredible stability. Because there can be two or four evenly placed points of contact with the earth, there is less need to have counterweights that prevent other types of cranes from falling over. Some gantry cranes can slide loads a small distance to the side. These are often found in container ports unloading vast cargo ships.

Arial

Perhaps the most bizarre kind of crane in modern use is the aerial crane. The term ‘aerial crane’ actually refers to the slinging of cargo underneath an aircraft – usually a helicopter. Although many utility helicopters can sling loads, only a few are designed with it as a primary function. These include the vast Sikorsky S64 Skycrane from the USA, MI-10 from the former Soviet Union, and the slightly smaller Kaman Kmax. These helicopters are used to transport unusually shaped loads in extremely remote locations where conventional cranes would be impractical.

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