are a modern form of balance crane that consist of the same basic parts. Fixed to the ground on a concrete slab (and sometimes attached to the sides of structures), tower cranes often give the best combination of height and lifting capacity and are used in the construction of tall buildings. The base is then attached to the mast which gives the crane its height. Further the mast is attached to the slewing unit (gear and motor) that allows the crane to rotate. On top of the slewing unit there are three main parts which are: the long horizontal jib (working arm), shorter counter-jib, and the operator’s cab.
The long horizontal jib is the part of the crane that carries the load. The counter-jib carries a counterweight, usually of concrete blocks, while the jib suspends the load to and from the center of the crane. The crane operator either sits in a cab at the top of the tower or controls the crane by radio remote control from the ground. In the first case the operator’s cab is most usually located at the top of the tower attached to the turntable, but can be mounted on the jib, or partway down the tower. The lifting hook is operated by the crane operator using electric motors to manipulate wire rope cables through a system of sheaves. The hook is located on the long horizontal arm to lift the load which also contains its motor.
A tower crane rotates on its axis before lowering the lifting hook.
In order to hook and unhook the loads, the operator usually works in conjunction with a signaller (known as a ‘dogger’, ‘rigger’ or ‘swamper’). They are most often in radio contact, and always use hand signals. The rigger or dogger directs the schedule of lifts for the crane, and is responsible for the safety of the rigging and loads.
The most basic type of mobile crane consists of a truss or telescopic boom mounted on a mobile platform — be it on road, rail or water. Common terminology is conventional and hydraulic cranes respectively.
A crane mounted on a truck carrier provides the mobility for this type of crane. This crane has two parts: the carrier, often referred to as the Lower, and the lifting component which includes the boom, referred to as the Upper. These are mated together through a turntable, allowing the upper to swing from side to side. These modern hydraulic truck cranes are usually single-engine machines, with the same engine powering the undercarriage and the crane. The upper is usually powered via hydraulics run through the turntable from the pump mounted on the lower. In older model designs of hydraulic truck cranes, there were two engines. One in the lower pulled the crane down the road and ran a hydraulic pump for the outriggers and jacks. The one in the upper ran the upper through a hydraulic pump of its own. Many older operators favor the two-engine system due to leaking seals in the turntable of aging newer design cranes.
Generally, these cranes are able to travel on highways, eliminating the need for special equipment to transport the crane unless weight or other size constrictions are in place such as local laws. If this is the case, most larger cranes are equipped with either special trailers to help spread the load over more axles or are able to disassemble to meet requirements. An example is counterweights. Often a crane will be followed by another truck hauling the counterweights that are removed for travel. In addition some cranes are able to remove the entire upper. However, this is usually only an issue in a large crane and mostly done with a conventional crane such as a Link-Belt HC-238. When working on the job site, outriggers are extended horizontally from the chassis then vertically to level and stabilize the crane while stationary and hoisting. Many truck cranes have slow-travelling capability (a few miles per hour) while suspending a load. Great care must be taken not to swing the load sideways from the direction of travel, as most anti-tipping stability then lies in the stiffness of the chassis suspension. Most cranes of this type also have moving counterweights for stabilization beyond that provided by the outriggers. Loads suspended directly aft are the most stable, since most of the weight of the crane acts as a counterweight. Factory-calculated charts (or electronic safeguards) are used by crane operators to determine the maximum safe loads for stationary (outriggered) work as well as (on-rubber) loads and travelling speeds.
Truck cranes range in lifting capacity from about 14.5 short tons (12.9 long tons; 13.2 t) to about 1,300 short tons (1,161 long tons; 1,179 t). Although most only rotate about 180 degrees, the more expensive truck mounted cranes can turn a full 360 degrees.
Simple, rapid and entirely autonomous, Self-Erecting Cranes are especially suited to construction sites that are of a short duration and require frequent to infrequent operations.
Simple to use and rapid, with installation and commissioning completed in less than one day. Self-Erecting Cranes are the answer to the expectations of companies building private houses and small to medium size residential buildings up to 6 stories high.
The quiet, emission free electric operation is designed and suited to reduce the disruption and stress imposed on the local residential environment, which may surround a construction site.
An early form of level-luffing gear was the “Toplis” design, invented by a Stothert & Pitt engineer in 1914. The crane jibs luffs as for a conventional crane, with the end of the jib rising and falling. The crane’s hook is kept level by automatically paying out enough extra cable to compensate for this. This is also a purely mechanical linkage, arranged by the reeving of the hoist cables to the jib over a number of pulleys at the crane’s apex above the cab, so that luffing the jib upwards allows more free cable and lowers the hook to compensate.
The usual mechanism for level-luffing in modern cranes is to add an additional “horse head” section to the top of the jib. By careful design of the geometry, this keeps level merely by the linked action of the pivots.
As cranes and their control systems became more sophisticated, it became possible to control the level of luffing directly, by winching the hoist cable in and out as needed. The first of these systems used mechanical clutches between luffing and hoist drums, giving simplicity and a “near level” result.
Later systems have used modern electronic controls and quickly reversible motors with good slow-speed control to the hoist winch motors, so as to give a positioning accuracy of inches. Some early systems used controllable hydraulic gearboxes to achieve the same result, but these added complexity and cost and so were only popular where high accuracy was needed, such as for shipbuilding.