Cranes are a staple piece of construction equipment. Although there are a variety of types of cranes – tower, boom, telescopic, loader and more – most cranes utilize the same types of machinery and engineering to perform similar tasks – lifting and moving heavy loads.
Most cranes are mobile pieces of equipment. This is due to the fact they must travel between construction job sites. Some cranes, like the common tower crane, will remain grounded at one site, like a loading pier or other permanent manufacturing site.
If you’ve ever seen a crane in action, you may have wondered how some cables and a long metal ‘arm’ can lift massive amounts of weight without toppling over or without the arm breaking. There’s a lot that goes into each crane to make such feats of physics possible.
The first-ever cranes were developed in Ancient Greece. Although these lift systems were without the engineering advancements seen in modern cranes, they utilized similar lifting principles and set the stage for what was to come. Essentially, if the load is on the short end of a beam and fulcrum, the load can be lifted much easier by pressing the long end of the beam.
Anatomy of a Boom Crane
Most cranes feature a system of cables and pulleys to lift and lower materials, such as concrete, steel, generators, large tools and more. Sometimes these materials can weigh thousands of pounds. Although there are many different types of cranes, they mostly use similar pieces of equipment and rely on the same concepts to successfully operate. Here’s a rundown of the anatomy of a boom crane.
- The boom – The boom is easily the most recognizable part of the crane. It’s the steel arm of the crane. It’s a very long, telescopic and fixed piece that is used to lift and move objects.
- The counterweights – The counterweights are found at either the base of the crane or near the crane’s cab. The location depends on if it’s a fixed or mobile crane. Their function is somewhat self-explanatory; they counter the weight being lifted by the arm, or boom, so the crane can remain balanced.
- The jib – The jib is connected to the top or end of the boom. It’s a lattice-like structure that carries the load, extending the boom and providing more mobility. If the boom is the arm, then think of the jib as the wrist.
- The rotex gear – For a crane to operate successfully, it must be able to seamlessly move right and left and up and down. This is what the rotex gear is for. The rotex gear is a hydraulic-powered turntable that allows the crane to rotate its apparatus, allowing the crane to operate at odd angles or positions sometimes necessary for the job. It’s often controlled with pedals inside the cab.
- The hook – Likely the most obvious of a crane’s parts, the hook keeps the load connected to the jib and boom. It works in tandem with a large steel ball at the end of the jib to keep the lines taut when no load is attached to the crane.
- Reinforced-steel cable – A crane’s reinforced-steel cables run from the crane’s base, along the boom and the jib, and extend to the hook and steel ball. Depending on the size of the crane – and how many cables the crane has – the steel cables can support anywhere from 14,000 to 140,000 pounds.
- Outriggers – When the crane is in use, it undergoes tremendous shifts in balance due to the weight of the load. In addition to counterweights, most cranes will use outriggers to help stabilize the crane so it doesn’t topple. Outriggers use hydraulics to lift the entire crane at once to help the crane remain balanced while lifting a heavy load.
Crane Rentals, Sales and Service
Although cranes rely on tried-and-true concepts and have many of the same components, they’re still incredibly complex machines with a variety specific functions and abilities. If you’re in need of a crane for your next project, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the right crane to get the job done. Contact the experienced staff at Coast Crane Company for your crane sale, rental and service needs. Call 800-400-2726 or visit Coast Crane Company online for a quote today!