Everything You Need to Know Before Purchasing a Crane

The use of cranes in construction goes back a long time in human history. Civilizations as early as the Greeks have been found to possess crane-like technology. Of course, in today’s world, cranes are bigger than just construction. They are used in a variety of systems, including assembly plants and manufacturing plants. 

Simply put, a crane is a high-rise structure with cables and pulleys that’s capable of lifting heavy weights. This article is about helping organization decision-makers decide on what type of crane they should buy, and whether they should buy or just rent:

Types of Cranes

Seven (7) common types of cranes are used in heavy machinery industries. The differences between them make them suitable for different functions. All cranes are controlled by an operator who could be in an attached cab, a control station, or be using radio controls. Here they are: 

  • Mobile Crane: This is the most common type of crane. They are famous for their versatility. They usually consist of a steel truss or a telescopic boom attached to a mobile platform. The nature of the platform depends on the location of use. The most common types of platforms are rail, wheeled carts, and cat trucks. The boom is typically attached to the bottom of the mobile platform and moves using cables of hydraulic cylinders. Mobile cranes can be used to lift materials from difficult positions due to their mobility. The footprint of the crane is the determinant of the terrain that it can enter.  
  • Overhead Crane: This type of crane is also known as a suspended crane. It’s typically used in factories to lift heavy loads. In an overhead crane, the hoist is fixed to a trolley that moves in one direction along a beam (or two). The hoist moves at angles to the path of the trolley along fixed elevated or ground level tracks. Larger-sized overhead cranes nicknamed Goliath cranes are common in shipyards and outdoor manufacturing plants for moving heavy equipment. 
  • Telescopic Crane: These cranes consist of a boom with several retractable tubes. The tubes extend or retract to alter the length of the boom, depending on the need. They are very common in the construction industry, especially with work that involves working with various height requirements. They are sometimes mounted on trucks for mobility. 
  • Truck-Mounted Crane: Also known as picker trucks, they are cranes mounted on rubber-tire vehicles. They are excellent for jobs that require movement. They typically have outriggers for stabilizing the crane while hoisting. They are, however, not ideal for heavy-lifting, with the maximum capacity usually at 50 tons. 
  • Rough Terrain Crane: These cranes are specifically designed for off-road operations. They are typically mounted on an undercarriage with sizeable rubber tires. Much like truck-mounted cranes, they contain outriggers for stabilizing the crane during hoisting. It’s common practice for the cranes to draw power from the same engine as the undercarriage. They are ideal for sites with uneven topography. 
  • Tower Cranes: You’ll typically find these are the construction site for high-rise buildings. They are always attached to the ground and give a great combination of height and lifting capacity; they can be as tall as 1000 meters. Considering that the typical floor dimension for a high-rise building, that means they can go as high as 285 stories. On the other hand, when building past a certain height, the crane will have to be attached to the building to prevent crane sway or tipping. 
  • Folding Boom Crane: Also known as a loader crane, this lifting machine can be used in multiple situations. It consists of a hydraulically powered arm which is fixed to a trailer. The arm is typically foldable into a small space when the crane isn’t in use. They have a higher capacity than truck-mounted cranes but less mobility. They can usually carry up to 200 tons of load. 

Questions to Answer Before Buying a Crane

Cranes are a capital-intensive investment, with even the cheapest models costing tens of thousands of dollars. As a business owner or decision-maker, purchasing a crane isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Here are a couple of questions to help you make an informed decision:

What will you use the crane for?

The work you need the crane for is an essential decider off whether you should get one or rent it. If the nature of the work is recurring or it forms a core part of your business offering, then you should probably get one. On the other hand, if the nature of the work isn’t core to your business or repetitive, you might be better off renting.  

Also, the nature of the materials that will be lifted is an important consideration. Some materials require special requirements and fittings to be lifted. The load size also plays a role in the kind of crane you should favor, alongside the frequency of use. Cranes have different capacities, so you have to make sure whichever one you take meets your requirements. 

 What features will you need? 

The specific features you need on your crane are a function of what you need it for. In certain cases, you may need to make specifications for the design with the manufacturer, especially if you need specific fittings. Here are a couple of functional requirements that can influence your decision-making:

  • Advanced features: As stated earlier, unusual features can be designed if you can come to an agreement with the manufacturer over the specifications of the design. You may also need other accessories like cables, chains, or bars for lifting materials. To get an idea of the fittings and accessories you may need, you can check https://twaylifting.com/spreader-bar-rental/  
  • Maximum load: Crane models typically come with an indicator of what the maximum load capacity is, and when it has been exceeded. Ideally, you should know the maximum load rating you’ll need in a machine. This maximum load rating should include measurements of all the accessories, slings and hooks, etc.
  • Motorized or manual: Depending on your needs, you may prefer either a manual or a motorized crane. 
  • Power source: Your preferred way of powering the crane is essential, too. If the crane isn’t mobile, electric power may be an option. Otherwise, LPG, diesel, or petrol can do.
  • Technology features: If your crane requires remote control capabilities, you may need to install other features like a hi-res LCD and Wi-Fi. These specifications may require extra spending, so make sure to factor it into your cost.

Where will you use the crane?

The location of a crane is vital in not only deciding the kind of crane to buy, but also the terms of use. Location is an essential factor when choosing how the crane should be set up. In some cases, you may need to build a concrete platform to ensure smooth working conditions. The ambient temperature is another crucial thing to keep in mind. If outdoors, your crane might be exposed to extremely low temperatures during winter, which can be damaging due to rust.

On the other hand, certain indoor processes result in extremely high temperatures. The work environment also determines the types of contaminants you may be faced with.  Airborne particles like grease, oil, wood shavings, and scrap metals can be problematic to deal with.  

What’s the monetary implication?

Since cranes require huge financial deposits, you must carefully consider what the impact of the purchase will be on your bottom line. Several factors would have to be taken into account, including the purchase price, maintenance and repair costs, power and consumables, and the installment cost. You may also need to consider the secondhand value of the crane. Cranes are typically long-term equipment, so it makes sense to look to sell them off after a while. If the effect on your bottom line is more than you can take within a short while, you may have to consider other options. Renting may be more sustainable for the short term, and it also doesn’t include installation and maintenance fees. If you insist on buying it without having enough cash, you may have to take a loan or look for a supplier that will take staggered payment.

What are the maintenance requirements?

Like every other piece of machinery, cranes need constant support, service, and maintenance. Understanding the kind of maintenance you’ll need is vital before making a purchase. In most cases, it’s advisable to have a support contract with the manufacturers. That way, you can be sure that your crane is in the best hands. You can typically arrange for this while negotiating your purchase. An account manager should be assigned to you to help sort out the details of your contract. If structuring support and maintenance with the supplier isn’t possible, you may have to hire in-house help to maintain and repair the cranes.

Conclusion

Making decisions for a business is never easy; much less when they require spending huge sums of money. Hopefully, after reading this, you’re better informed about what kind of crane to go for and how to go about getting it. Make sure to purchase from certified sellers as they are more trustworthy.

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