7 Types of Construction Cranes


Cranes are extremely useful machines that can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. They are used in multiple industries but are most often seen in the construction and manufacturing industries. If you’re interested in undergoing crane operator training, you’re likely researching the variety of construction cranes that are used the most.

What is a Crane

A crane is a machine that is equipped with sheaves and cables that can lift or lower heavy objects or materials. Cranes were invented by the ancient Greeks and the one-of-a-kind design was inspired by the tallest flying bird in the world, a crane. The crane “jib” or “crink” was originally created to mimic a human finger or knuckle, which allows it to move in and out of tight spaces with greater ease. The crane can be used as a temporary structure or it can be fixed or mounted to the ground or a custom vehicle.

Before the 19th century, animals and humans were used to help power and control the crane, but today, trained crane operators generally control them. They can also be operated with a push button pendant control station or with radio controls. The crane operator is responsible for the machine’s safety, as well as the site where it is being used, which is where crane operator training becomes very important.

Here are seven types of construction cranes and what makes them unique.

Rough Terrain Crane

This is a crane that is connected to an undercarriage with four rubber tires and it is generally used for off-road use. It is ideal for rougher construction sites that may have uneven, rocky, or dirt-filled terrain. There are outriggers that can be extended horizontally or vertically, which helps level the crane during hoisting.

Mobile Cranes

This is the most commonly used crane in the construction field. It is a mobile hydraulic crane that has a steel truss or telescopic boom attached to a movable platform, such as a cat truck or rail. This crane is very versatile, due to its footprint and mobility. Because construction sites can vary in size and scope, having a crane that can adapt to different areas to get close to where the materials need to be hoisted is important. These mobile cranes have the capacity to do that.

Tower Cranes

This is a form of a balance crane. When it is fixed to the ground, tower cranes have incredible height capacity (up to 265 feet tall) and reach capacity (230 feet) that makes these invaluable machines on a construction site. Tower cranes are a must-have for tall building projects. They can lift about 19 tons and some tower cranes can assist in hauling materials to buildings that are hundreds of stories tall.

Telescopic Cranes

These cranes have a boom that includes different tubes that are fitted inside each other. The crane utilizes a hydraulic device that retracts or extends the tubes to change the length of the boom. They are commonly seen in marine ports because of their incredible mobility, height adjusting capability, and ease in transferring cargo to the right containers.

Truck-mounted Cranes

Otherwise known as boom trucks, these kinds of cranes are self-propelled and mounted to a rubber tire truck for maximum mobility. The machine uses outriggers for horizontal or vertical extensions and those also help in steadying the crane as it hoists materials around. These cranes are generally limited to hoisting 50 tons. While they are commonly used in construction, they can also be used for repair work or for loading or unloading single-item cargo.

Loader Crane

These cranes are sometimes called folding boom cranes or knuckle-boom cranes and are powered with hydraulics. They have an electrical-powered arm that is fitted to a trailer or truck that is used to unload or load equipment onto the vehicle. It is made up of various joints that can be folded to fit into smaller spaces when not being operated. These cranes vary in size and can sometimes carry up to 200 tons.

Overhead Crane

Otherwise known as a suspended or bridge crane, this machine is commonly used in factory work or other industrial environments. They come in different size options, but large overhead cranes are often seen in large manufacturing plants or shipyards to help hoist materials or products. There are parallel runways with a bridge that spans the gap. Hoists are put on a trolley that moves in one direction along the beam, and it can be moved at different angles.

Heavy cranes are very important pieces of equipment that help the world’s various work industries function smoothly. Students enrolled in heavy equipment training receive hands-on training on how to operate these powerful machines. They are given time to learn the ins and outs of working on a construction site with various kinds of cranes, so they can be prepared to enter the workforce with confidence.

Ready to get started? Students in our classes attend four to eight-week sessions of classes that can be combined with training programs. We care about the quality of training that our students receive, so during enrollment, students are armed with the skills that they need to have a successful career.

No matter what heavy equipment training or certification program students are involved in, our goal is to give each student the knowledge they need to thrive and love the career they’ve chosen.