A mobile crane can be very basic, with just a telescopic boom on a platform, or can be a full sized crane. A standard crane is a machine used for lifting heavy objects. This type of machine is fitted with a wire rope drum, chains, and a control panel. The advantage of a mobile crane is the additional flexibility to access sites and equipment that are otherwise difficult to access.
There are five types of mobile crane: truck, side lift, all terrain, crawler, and railroad. All cranes must be operated by trained staff, and this type of work is often completed by a team of people. Depending on the size of the load and the location of the crane, a spotter may be required to ensure that the load is properly installed.
Most people are familiar with the truck crane, where the actual crane is mounted to the body of the truck. This type of unit is able to travel on main roads and highways. This additional flexibility makes it possible to transport large loads and access a wide range of locations.
A side lift crane is another type of mobile crane able to transport materials and hoist large containers. Very large containers are lifted using a pair of side lift cranes. The added benefit of this mobile crane is that it can be used to lift a container from the ground, providing extra flexibility.
All terrain cranes can travel on regular roads at fairly high speed as well as over rough terrain. This type of mobile crane has all wheel and crab steering for extra flexibility. The ability to cover different terrains in the same equipment is very important when working on new construction and development projects.
The main advantage of a crawler crane is the ability to quickly lift items with very little set up. The size and design of the crane placement on the undercarriage, along with the tracks, allows users to avoid the process to stabilize the crane. Instead, the sheer weight of the crane, along with the longer contact with the ground eliminates this requirement for all but the heaviest loads.
A railroad crane is specifically designed with flanged wheels so it can travel along railroad tracks. These units are used for maintenance work and loading freight into railway cars. On occasion, they are also involved in recovery operations when trucks tip over or spill their load.