Crane machines have been used since the time of the Ancient Greeks.
They may have evolved and grown somewhat since the 6th Century BC, but the concept and use remain the same. They are an essential part of all of our material handling industries. We would not be able to run most of our manufacturing and construction businesses without their help.
If you would like to learn more about these essential, gigantic machines, then read on. We have seven interesting facts about industrial cranes, crane operators, and how they have played an essential part in our lives.
1. The Taisun Gantry Crane Holds a Guinness World Record
Overhead cranes are used in all kinds of industries for moving heavy loads across large distances. Overhead gantry cranes are often used in shipyards to help move goods on and off ships or even pick up ships themselves. They are powerful and capable of lifting loads up to many thousands of tons.
The biggest overhead gantry crane is in China and called the Taisun Crane. It is over 436ft high and spans a distance of 394ft, greater than a soccer field.
It currently holds the Guinness World Record for heaviest weight lifted by a crane at 20,000 tons. That is the same as 14 Sierra Red Wood Trees or the Statue of Liberty (without her base).
As well as being the world’s heaviest lifter, it has also won awards for the impact it has had helping the offshore shipping industry and for environmental and health safety standards.
2. Kockums Crane Became a National Landmark
Another famous overhead gantry crane you may have heard of is the famous Kockums crane in Norway. It stood in Malmo until 2002 and was one of the countries famous landmarks.
Standing at over 452ft high at the time, it could lift loads of up to 1500 tons. Sadly, due to a shipyard crisis that lasted over two decades, it rarely got to serve its purpose. Instead, it stood quietly over Malmo and became a recognized part of the skyline instead.
They dismantled it in 2002 and sold it overseas, but luckily it did get to fulfill its heavy lifting purpose one last time when it built the pillars for Oresund’s bridge in 1997.
3. There Is a 200 Year Old Working Bridge Crane in Spain
If reading these facts about cranes has given you a passion, then good news! You can visit a fulling working 200yr old version of an overhead bridge crane in Spain. Take a trip to Catalonia and visit the Catalonian Railway Museum.
Here you will find an immaculately maintained and restored version of an overhead bridge crane used to get Spain’s railways up and running. The museum has been built around the crane that was last used in the 1900s to lift trains onto the track.
The crane itself was actually built in Great Britain, but like many British, decided to take a trip to the Spanish Costas, where it remains fully functional to this day.
4. Belfast’s Iconic Samson and Goliath Became Protected Landmarks
Gantry cranes often make a dominating feature on a cities skyline. In Belfast, two giant yellow cranes are now national treasures. Named Samson and Goliath after the biblical personalities, these two cranes were built for the shipbuilding industry.
Goliath is actually the smaller at 315ft tall and older crane. His name is something of an in-joke as giant Gantry and Bridge Cranes are often nicknamed Goliath. Samson joined the yard five years later and stood at 348ft tall.
They were constructed during a difficult period in shipbuilding, and their erection was seen as a beacon of hope for the industry’s future. As such, they have become protected landmarks and will remain on the Belfast skyline in perpetuity.
5. A US Inventor Hoisted the Country Out of the Great Depression
Cranes are only as much use as their hoist that raises and lowers the heavy loads. There are several types of hoist design that has been around since Ancient Greek times. However, one major design change saved an entire community from the Great Depression.
Fred R. Coffing is famously remembered as the man who invented the chain hoist. Fred was struggling like many others during the great depression. Hoists at the time were limited as they were made out of rope, and it was difficult to lift weighty loads.
Fred had a flash of inspiration and invented the chain hoist, now an industry standard, that allowed him to lift loads far heavier than before. His invention transformed the farming and manufacturing industries and quite literally lifted the nation out of the Great Depression.
6. Crane Operators Use Hand Signals
A shipyard or factory can be an incredibly noisy place to work. Most have to wear ear defenders to protect themselves from permanent damage. This means that verbal communication in such an environment is challenging.
If you are interested in learning about cranes or would like to become a crane operator yourself, you will need to learn the hand signals. Health and safety when working with such large and potentially dangerous machines are essential. As such, a good understanding of how to communicate in crane sign language is also important.
If you go to a well-maintained site, you will see posters up demonstrating the signs you need to use to maneuver a crane capable of lifting thousands of tons. The most important would be ’emergency stop’; arms straight out and move your hands up and down. If you see this sign, time to stop immediately before someone gets hurt.
7. Modern Cranes Use Air, Electricity, and Manpower
It might sound like something out of the Power Rangers by modern cranes are still powered by three very different forces. Pneumatic cranes use air to power pistons that drive air into cylinders and give them their lift and pull powers.
Overhead cranes have to use by electricity running along the bridge and gantry. However, there are still some push-type cranes that are entirely powered by man. An operator can push the small cranes to their location and then manually hoist a load.
So, humankind has not been overtaken by machines just yet. We still have a role to play in operating cranes. But with the advancement in AI and control technologies, who knows for how much longer!
Facts About Industrial Cranes
Hopefully, this article has inspired you to learn a little more about industrial cranes and has introduced you to some new facts about overhead cranes and hoists that you may not have come across before.
If you would like to know more about our material handling and crane services, then please take a moment to contact us and see how we can help your business.