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Seven Kinds of Common Cranes

There are various types of cranes used in civil engineering construction works. A crane is a piece of heavy machinery that is a tower or platform that is equipped with cables and pulleys. They are used to lift and lower materials. The most common use of cranes is in the construction industry and heavy equipment manufacturing.

Different types of cranes are used under different circumstances and environment. Here are 7 crane types that are used commonly depending on the project, work objective and environment.

1. Telescopic Crane

A telescopic crane offers a boom that has a number of tubes that are fitted inside each other. Then hydraulic mechanisms extend or retract the tubes to length or shorten the boom.

2. Mobile Crane

This is the most basic type of crane and consists of a steel truss or telescopic boom mounted on some kind of mobile platform. This platform could be wheeled, a rail or even a cat truck. The boom is hinged at the bottom and can be raised or lowered by cables or hydraulic cylinders.

3. Truck Mounted Crane

These types of cranes are mounted on a rubber tire truck and provide excellent mobility. The outriggers will extend vertically or horizontally and are used to stabilize and level the crane when it is hoisting a load of materials.

4. Tower Crane

A tower crane is considered to be a modern form of a balance crane. When fixed to the ground, this type of crane will often give the best of height and lifting capabilities. They are also used when constructing tall buildings.

5. Rough Terrain Crane

The crane is mounted on an undercarriage that has four rubber tires and is designed to be use off road. The outriggers can extend vertically and horizontally to stabilize and level the crane when it is lifting a large load. These types of cranes are single engine meaning that the same engine is used to power the undercarriage and the crane.

6. Overhead Crane

These types of cranes are also known as suspended cranes. They are generally used in a factory and some are able to lift very heavy loads. The hoist of the crane is set on a trolley that will move in one direction along a beam, sometimes two beams. They move at angles to the direction along the elevated or ground level tracks. The tracks are usually mounted along the side of an assembly area.

7. Loader Crane

This is a hydraulically powered crane that has an articulated arm that is fitted to a trailer. A loader crane is used to load equipment onto a trailer. The crane can be folded into numerous sections and will fit into small spaces when not in use. The crane can be easily transported because of its capabilities to be folded.

Civil engineering uses many different types of cranes during a project. They can be used to move heavy equipment or machinery. Many types of cranes can quickly and easily move equipment into trenches or down steep hills. They can move large pipes from one place to another. Cranes are beneficial in the construction process for buildings, bridges and overpasses. They are an indispensable asset to the construction and engineering fields. So using proper type of crane is important in construction works.

How Does a Crane Work?

A crane is a mechanism that uses a collection of simple machines to both raise and lower objects, and also move them horizontally. They are always equipped with at least a winder; cables, ropes or chains; and sheaves. Both sheaves and the winder are a form of pulley.

What Is a Crane?


Cranes can use a combination of simple machines to gain mechanical advantage and lift objects. The first is the lever, used in the balance-style crane. The crane’s beam is balanced at the fulcrum, allowing it to lift heavier objects with a smaller amount of force. The second is a jib-style crane, which uses pulleys to achieve mechanical advantage (but note that all cranes use pulleys–in this case, the pulleys are the main source of mechanical advantage). The third way a crane can lifts objects is by use of a hydraulic cylinder, either directly or in powering a balance or jib.

Horizontal Movement

Horizontal movement in a crane can be achieved in one of two ways. The first is to mount the entire device on a rotating pivot, and simply to swing the load-bearing boom or beam around. This is very common in mobile cranes and also some fixed cranes used in construction. The second method is to roll the load back and forth on tracks along the boom itself. This is very common on the fixed cranes in ports and railroad yards.


A final consideration in how cranes work is stability. A crane is stable when the sum of all movements about the base equal zero. As a practical matter, this means the size of the rated load on a crane must be less than what it would require to tip the crane over. In the United States, a mobile crane can only lift 85 percent of what it would take to tip the crane over. That margin is to account for potential instability arising from what the mobile crane happens to be sitting on.