Shannahan Crane & Hoist

4 Types of Cranes and Their Functions

As long as humans have been building, we have used tools. We’ve come a long way from small hand tools to massive machines like cranes. Cranes of all types have been instrumental on construction sites for thousands of years

Today, there are many types of cranes. All are crafted with care to perform specific functions. These cranes provide service on job sites across many industries. 

Read on, and we’ll take a deep dive into four types of cranes you may find on a job site today.

Bridge Cranes

Bridge cranes are also known as overhead cranes. You’ll usually come across bridge cranes in an industrial environment.

These types of cranes are most often used for either manufacturing or maintenance. In these applications, efficiency and downtime are essential factors. Construction crews know that bridge cranes will get the job done.

History of Bridge Cranes

The first electric overhead crane was designed in England in 1876. It hoisted guns at the Royal Arsenal, where it remained in service until 1980. 

Though the design of bridge cranes has changed slightly, the functional elements remain largely the same.

Bridge Cranes In Action

Overhead, or bridge cranes, are used to refine steel, copper, and aluminum. They can also be found on car manufacturing assembly lines.

Paper mills are another location you’re likely to find bridge cranes in use.

Jib Cranes

jib crane is another overhead lifting device. It’s most useful in smaller work areas doing repetitive lifting tasks. But jibs are also pretty versatile. You can pair them with other overhead cranes to achieve a wide range of production goals.

A jib or jib arm is usually attached to a vertical mast or an inclined boom. The jib is the horizontal beam used to support the load clear of the primary support.

History of the Jib Crane

The jib crane can trace its roots back to ancient Greece. It was likely one of the cranes used to build the temples.

The Romans came to embrace that technology too. They found a use for jib cranes building their roads and aqueducts.

The early design of jib cranes held fast well through the 19th century. Once the steam engine came into play, the crane got an overhaul. The overhaul would allow cranes to accommodate:

  • larger construction projects
  • growing demands from factories
  • safety concerns

While improvements have been made, the core concept of the jib crane remains the same. 

Jib Crane In Action

Jib cranes can be mobile or stationary. Because of this, they find their place on a wide range of construction and work sites.

They can be mounted to mobile chassis at temporary work sites. Or they can be firmly anchored in place on a permanent job site.

Their primary function is support.

Gantry Cranes 

gantry crane is precisely what it sounds like. A crane built on top of a structure that straddles an object or workspace (also called a gantry).

Sometimes gantry cranes are called portal cranes. 

Often, the terms gantry cranes and overhead cranes are used interchangeably. The main distinction is that with a gantry crane, the entire structure is usually wheeled.

Gantry cranes range in size depending on their function. They can be relatively small to gigantic, with the capacity to lift the heaviest loads.

History of Gantry Cranes

The first pure hydraulic gantry was designed in 1963 by Hartley Belding. Mr.Belding was the chief engineer of Belding Engineering Company in Chicago, Illinois.

The design for the gantry crane was born of necessity. The Belding Company won a bid to relocate a manufacturing company. This company had many heavy presses.

As it were, Beldings’ company could not move them with their existing equipment. Beldings set to solve the problem and came up with the gantry. 

All gantry cranes can trace their roots back to Belding’s original design in the 60s.

Gantry Crane In Action

Gantry cranes are found on worksites that require lifting weighty loads.

So they come in handy when building ships, for instance. A gantry crane can lift a massive ship engine with ease.

Smaller gantries are usually used for smaller manufacturing jobs. Occasionally they help move components from site to site.

Workstation Cranes

Workstation cranes are another type of overhead crane. They are used across various industries, including:

  • manufacturing
  • automotive
  • aviation
  • farming

Workstation cranes handle heavy lifting and moving those heavy loads across distances in the workspace.

Workstation cranes often consist of a moving bridge that runs across or suspended from parallel runways. There is usually a lifting device that travels the length of the bridge.

History of Workstation Cranes

Workstation cranes have more or less the same origin story as overhead cranes. A great idea from old Sampson Moore in 1800’s England.

By 1887 Ludwig Stuckenholz company would introduce electrical components to overhead cranes. This step led to crafting specific cranes for specific jobs.

Workstation Cranes In Action

Workstation cranes have the worker’s interest at heart. They can help:

  • eliminate strain
  • boost efficiency
  • keep product safe
  • keep workers safe
  • reduce downtime
  • improve overall workflow

They can be used alone or paired with other cranes for increased functionality.

Hoists – Part of the 4 Cranes

hoist is a simple lifting device that can raise or lower loads using a pulley system. They can be manually operated or pneumatic.

Hoists are slightly different than all the cranes we mentioned. That’s because a hoist can only move loads vertically.

In contrast, cranes can move loads vertically and horizontally.

History of Hoists

The use of hoists goes back at least as far as cranes.

The Greek mathematician, Archimedes, created the first known elevator way back in 236 B.C. It worked by way of hoisting ropes tied around a drum that was turned using manpower.

Hoists have gained sophistication since then, but the basic concept is still the same.

Hoists In Action

For any instance you need to lift weight overhead, a hoist will come in handy.

That weight can be people or materials. However, what you’re lifting will determine the type of hoist you’ll use.

All Your Crane Needs Under One Roof

At Shannahan Crane & Hoist, we’ve got all your handling needs covered. We carry top-of-the-line models of all the types of cranes mentioned in this article.

If you’re shopping cranes you came to the right spot. Our team of professionals can service your existing equipment or help you find replacements. Whatever your needs, we pride ourselves on quick communication and quality service.

Contact us today for a risk-free quote!

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