10 Fun Facts About Industrial Cranes

Whether you’re working within the rigging industry or not, cranes have become a very large part of people’s lives. Cranes have become a part of our cities skylines, even if you haven’t noticed it! They are such an integral part of construction and development that they can sometimes blend right into the background. They are massive tools that make the existence of much of our infrastructure possible.

A crane bird

Since cranes are such a large but underappreciated part of not only our industry but community, we thought it would be fun to share 10 fun facts you may not have known about cranes. Read on to learn more!

1. Cranes are Named After the Bird

If you google the word crane, you’ll get a mixture of lifting cranes and this fun looking bird, also called a crane! Have you ever wondered why these two share a name? It’s because lifting cranes were actually named after the bird. Crane birds are tall and slender, bendy, and quick with their beaks, so lifting cranes got their name because early crane manufacturers thought they looked like these birds – do you agree?

2. Cranes were Invented in Ancient Greece

The first crane was built by the Ancient Greeks in 500 BC. The first crane was a primitive, wooden form powered by humans and animals, used to pull heavy objects and construct many of the beautiful structures that existed in Ancient Greece. One of the Greek’s most famous buildings, the Parthenon, shows evidence of cranes used in its construction.

3. Jibs Changed the Game

In the Middle Ages, what we know now as a Jib was added to the Greek crane which allowed the crane’s arm to move horizontally and not just vertically! Following this advancement, cranes began to first be used in harbors to unload cargo from ships – something that modern cranes are still doing now. By the sixteenth century, cranes were built with two treadmills, one on each side of a rotating housing containing the boom.

4. From Wood to Steel

As mentioned above, the earliest cranes in ancient Greece were made of wood which did the trick back in the day but wouldn’t have the strength to stand up against some of the jobs modern cranes take on today. Now, cranes are usually manufactured using steel.

5. The First Powered Cranes Were Powered by Steam

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, cranes still relied on human or animal power. What changed that? The invention of the steam engine! This technology was introduced to cranes and allowed them to be powered by a motor. By the end of the nineteenth century, internal combustion engines and electric motors were used to power cranes.

6. Cranes Build Themselves!

That’s right, cranes oftentimes build themselves. The only thing large enough and strong enough to build cranes, is other cranes. With the help of workers, operators use the crane to attach vital pieces of equipment. Sometimes cranes will literally build themselves placing pieces onto itself once the control panel is up and running – how cool is that!

7. There are Many Different Types of Cranes

Different types of cranes can be found on almost any construction project, each one specializing in its own specific task. Here are just a few of the most popular ones:

  • Mobile Cranes – A mobile crane is a cable-controlled crane mounted on crawlers or rubber-tired carriers or a hydraulic-powered crane with a telescoping boom mounted on truck-type carriers or as self-propelled models.
  • Carry Deck Crane – A carry deck crane is a small 4 wheel crane with a 360 degree rotating boom housed in the center of the machine.
  • Crane Vessel – A crane vessel, crane ship or floating crane is a ship with a crane specialized in lifting heavy loads. The largest crane vessels are used for offshore construction.
  • Rough Terrain Crane – As the name implies, these cranes are used for pick and carry operations off-road and on rough terrains.

8. The Current Largest Crane in the World

The SGC – 250, the Sarens Giant Crane also known as ‘Big Carl’, is a 250,000t/m heavy crane designed to sgc-250 craneaccommodate the heavy lifting requirements for refinery, oil and gas, mining, offshore platform, and third-generation components for nuclear power plants.

Built in 2015, this crane has a maximum lift capacity of 5,000-tons and features a 118m – 160.5m main boom configuration with a 40.5m – 99.5 m heavy-duty jib configuration. It operates on a 48.5m outer ring and requires a 5,200-ton counterweight. The jib can be extended up to 100 meters, giving it a maximum height of 250 meters (820 feet) and radius 275 meters (902 feet).

The SGC – 250 can operate on two different blocks at the same time—One on the main boom and one on the jib. The crane’s main hook block weighs 105 tonnes and has a safe working load (SWL) of 3,200 tonnes while the jib hook weighs 58 tonnes and has an SWL of 1,600 tonnes.

9. The Strongest Mobile Crane

Designed by Liebherr, located in Switzerland, the mobile crane, LTM 11200-9.1, is the strongest telescopic LTM 11200-9.1 cranemobile crane in the market and offers the world’s longest telescopic boom. It has a maximum lift capacity of 1,200-tons, a maximum hoisting height of 188 meters (616 feet) and a maximum radius of 136 meters (446 feet) – This is over the length of a football field! 

Some of the features found on the LTM 11200-9.1 are:

  • 100m long telescopic boom and 22m telescopic boom extension.
  • Lifting capacity of 65-tons at the 100m long, suspended telescopic boom.
  • 126m long luffing fly jib.
  • 60.5m long fixed jib, optionally hydraulically adjustable.
  • Fast and easy crane assembly with little required space.
  • Active, speed dependent rear-axle steering (all axles can be steered).
  • Economical transportation.

The LTM 11200-9.1 has been used to assemble larger portal cranes, radio towers, absorber columns, and wind power generators. When fully-loaded the base of the vehicle drives with slewing platforms, luffing cylinder and all four folding beams—With all of these elements, it will weigh in at over 100-tons. However, dismantling these elements is easy to do, making it so you only have to travel with what will be used on the job. Doing this can lessen the total weight to 34-tons, making it much more economical to transport.

10. Cranes can be Dangerous

As much as we admire the beauty and versatility of cranes – At the end of the day, they are a very large and potentially dangerous piece of machinery. Failure to follow safe lifting practices can lead to serious personal injury and cause damage to equipment and facilities. However, with proper training, inspections & maintenance, and workplace protocol you can greatly reduce the likelihood of many safety hazards. Hercules SLR can help with that!

We’re your one-stop-shop. Would you make three different stops in the morning to get your sugar, milk, and grounds for your morning coffee? Of course not—Why should your crane service be any different?

Hercules SLR offers crane certifications & LEEA-certified inspections, repairs, predictive & preventive maintenance (so you can pass those inspections!) and crane parts & accessories like wire rope slings, hoists & whatever else you need to lift.

Have a type of crane you need to be serviced, but we didn’t cover it here? Give us a call—We service anything. 

NEED A QUOTE? HAVE A QUESTION? CALL US—WE KNOW THE (WIRE) ROPES & EVERYTHING RIGGING-RELATED.