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What Are the Different Types of Cranes?


Cranes are an integral aspect of construction and help with most of the heavy lifting. They are a staple piece of machinery that dates back thousands of years with records indicating that the ancient Greeks invented the first cranes and used them as early as 515 BC. Many ancient structures, if built today, would have needed some sort of crane.

During the industrial revolution, cranes became vital to the modernisation of the world, replacing the manual pulley system with an engine and operator. In the present day, there are many types of cranes found in all different areas of construction, each built to tackle a specific task

With so many cranes available, it can be a challenge to know which one is right for your construction project and which one will get the job done well. Choosing the wrong crane for a job can cause costly time delays so it’s important to know what each crane does so you can pick the right one.


To help you pick the right crane, we’ve put together a guide to all the different types of cranes, from heavy-duty cranes to jib cranes.



Dockside Crane

Dockside cranes are often found at container terminals for loading and unloading intermodal containers from container ships. They are used for specialist tasks such as moving heaving loads over distances and are typically fixed to the ground. You may see these cranes in a row with multiple others to quickly load and offload goods for ships. They are specifically designed to be operated without taking up too much space.

There are two types of container handling crane: high profile, where the boom is hinged at the waterside of the crane structure and lifted in the air to clear the ships for navigation, and low profile, where the boom is shuttled toward and over the ship to allow the trolley to load and discharge containers. They are classified by their lifting capacity and the size of the container ships they can load and unload.

Overhead Cranes

Overhead cranes are commonly called bridge cranes and they’re a type of crane found in industrial warehouses. They consist of parallel runways with a travelling bridge spanning the gap, The hoist travels along the bridge which is supported on two or more legs running on a fixed rail at ground level. These cranes are often used for either manufacturing or maintenance applications such as the refinement of steel and other metals such as copper and aluminium. At every step of the manufacturing process, metal is handled by an overhead crane, making them integral to the operation.


Other applications include paper mills which use overhead cranes for regular maintenance needing removal of heavy press rolls and other equipment. They make it easier to install the heavy cast iron paper drying drums and other massive equipment which can weigh up to 70 tonnes.

Jib Crane

A jib crane is a type of overhead lifting device that is often used in a smaller work area for repetitive and unique lifting tasks. They are extremely versatile and can also be paired with overhead bridge cranes to maximise production. They have a simple design but can have capacities ranging from 250 lbs to 15 tonnes. By implementing a jib crane you can increase worker productivity, reduce workplace injuries and improve overall safety.


There are many different types of jib cranes that can be used for different applications. These include a freestanding jib crane, which can be installed almost anywhere indoors or outdoors and even underneath large bridge crane systems or in open areas. They are often used at marinas, loading docks and in warehouses for assembly operations. Foundationless jib cranes work similarly but are mounted to a slab of concrete for indoor uses. This means you don’t need a special foundation poured and can be installed almost anywhere as long as it meets the requirements of the manufacturer.


Overhead Cranes

An overhead crane is a machine or piece of equipment that allows you to lift and move heavy materials from one location to another in a precise manner. An overhead crane is a type of heavy-duty crane designed and engineered for a specific purpose or application to suit a business’ material handling needs. Overhead cranes suit a range of uses such as:

- Loading or unloading materials from a truck

- Moving materials around a facility more efficiently than a tow motor or manpower can

- Flipping or pulling dies in and out of stamping machines at a manufacturing facility

- Feeding raw material into a machine at a manufacturing facility

- Moving pieces or parts down an assembly line in a controlled fashion

- Moving containers around a shipyard or railyard


A company may choose to install an overhead crane because of its efficiency and safety. Overhead cranes are much more efficient than using a group of workers or tow motors to lift and move material and can work up to 2-3 times faster. Overhead cranes can also handle corrosive or dangerous materials like hot metals, chemicals and heavy loads to improve safety in your manufacturing, assembly or warehousing facility.


Crawler Cranes

Crawlers are track vehicles built on an undercarriage fitted with a pair of rubber tracks. This does however limit the crawler’s turning capacity but it does make it possible to use on soft ground and sites with limited improvement without sinking. Crawler cranes can be highly adaptable by having an attached telescopic arm that allows them to change their size. Crawlers are best used for long-term applications due to their bulkiness, special set up and the need to be transported from site to site.

Hammerhead Cranes

These cranes are among the most commonly used cranes in construction projects. They have a horizontal, swivelling lever resting on a fixed tower. The trolley is held in the forward part of the arm and is counterbalanced with the part of the arm that extends backwards. They offer a feature known as racking which allows the trolley to move forward and back horizontally along the crane arm. Hammerhead cranes are extremely heavy and are assembled on the job site and are most commonly used on bridges, power plants or shipyards construction sites.


Electric Hoists vs Manual Hoists

Hoists are what are used to lift and lower heavy loads and are valuable pieces of equipment in the construction industry. You’ll need to choose the right hoist for your lifting applications to ensure it is best suited for your operations in the long term.

Electric hoists are used for lifting or lowering material with the use of their electric motor and controller. This makes it much easier to lift and lower items and provides the ability to adjust the speed of the hoist. They are best for frequent and everyday usage, where faster lifting is required. The major advantage of an electric hoist is the speed at which lowering and lifting can be done, while also being easier to use meaning less workload which is much more beneficial compared to manual hoists.

Manual hoists are much simpler mechanisms made from durable, high-grade steel. They do require more effort to lift heavier loads in comparison to electric hoists but are easier to move around. An advantage of a manual hoist is that they work by hand so no power is required meaning they can be used almost anywhere. They are also much more affordable and allow you to get tasks done for a cheaper cost.

Crane & Lifting Services: Professional crane repair and installation

We are one of the most reputable crane companies in South Wales offering professionalism and expertise in the construction industry. Whether you are looking for heavy-duty cranes, jib cranes or electric hoists, we have a broad range of cranes to suit any job. Our comprehensive crane services will ensure your project goes smoothly from installation to maintenance. Regardless of your requirements, we have everything you need to get the job to the highest of standards. For more information, visit our website or call us on 01446 700 945. We operate across the UK with locations in Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Aylesbury and London - don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.

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