The Correct Crane Designations

by Dirk Knoester (senior advisor at Mammoet) - July 2020

Hydro, telescope, mobile crane, tower crane, crawler crane, all-terrain crane, lattice boom, ring crane, truck crane, RT, AT, etc. It’s enough to cause confusion because these names are often used interchangeably. So, what should it be? To understand it properly, let’s look at a few definitions:

 

  • A crane is a piece of hoisting equipment, equipped and intended for the movement of freely hanging loads.

  • A mobile crane is a crane that can be moved and is not attached to a fixed track. This includes all cranes, which can be moved in any accessible direction by road or on a site, either under their own power or assisted. Cranes on rails, such as construction cranes or railway cranes, are therefore not included in the category of mobile cranes.

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Types of Mobile Cranes:​

The distinction is made on the basis of the substructure:

  • Trucks with a crane structure. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a truck with auxiliary chassis. The capacity of these cranes on ‘commercial chassis’ is a maximum of 100 tonnes. For example, in our fleet, these are the Faun HKs and the Liebherr LTFs.

  • Truck cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a single chassis, the undercarriage. These were formerly built by specialist manufacturers (CD, Faun, Mol, Foden, etc.), but nowadays the crane manufacturers often build them themselves. The capacity of these cranes goes up to 1,200 tonnes. In our fleet we have, among others, the Grove TMS series, the Link-Belt HTCs, the P&H 9125 TC and the (Terex) Demag TC 2800-1.

  • Crawler cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on an undercarriage, which is equipped with two caterpillar tracks. The capacity can be up to 4,000 tonnes. Within Mammoet, we have a huge variety of crawler cranes from a wide range of brands. The most well known are, of course, the Demag CCs and the Liebherr LRs.

  • Rough terrain cranes (RT). The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on an undercarriage that has high ground clearance due to its large wheels. In general, all axles are driven and steerable. The capacity can be up to 200 tonnes. Mammoet also has a wide range of RTs, such as the Grove RT series, the Tadano GR and TR series and the (Terex) Bendini A series.

  • All terrain cranes (AT). The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on an undercarriage that can travel both on the road and also on rough terrain. The abbreviation used for this type of machinery is AT: All-Terrain. The capacity can be up to 2,000 tonnes. At Mammoet, we have a huge variety of ATs from a wide range of brands. The most well known are undoubtedly the Grove GMKs, the Liebherr LTMs and the (Terex) Demag ACs.

  • Truck terrain cranes (TT). The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a cross between a truck crane and an all-terrain undercarriage. The capacity can be up to 100 tonnes. At Mammoet, we had the Link-Belt HTT-8690.

  • Tower cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a truck crane or all terrain undercarriage. Although these machines do not have high maximum capacity, their large horizontal reach can, under certain circumstances, provide a better solution than a conventional truck crane or all-terrain crane. Their reach can be up to 60 metres. Within Mammoet, the most well-known are the Liebherr MKs and Spierings SKs.

  • “Wagon crane”. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on an undercarriage, which acts also as a trailer. The capacity can be up to 600 tonnes. At Mammoet, we had a number of Demag MCs and Gottwald MKs.

  • Harbour cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on an undercarriage, with tires or tracks. The most striking feature is the vertical tower to which the boom is attached. The capacity can be up to 308 tonnes. Within Mammoet, we have the (Terex-)Gottwald G-HMKs and the Liebherr LHM 500.

  • Industrial cranes. The crane structure consists of either a rotatable or non-rotatable crane arm, which is mounted on a compact chassis (tyres or tracks) with or without a load area. The capacity can be up to 152 tonnes. Within Mammoet, we have Broderson ICs, Grove YBs and (Terex-)Franna MACs. We also have ‘spider cranes’, such as the Hoeflon Cs, in the fleet of industrial cranes, as well as the telescopic handlers, which can be equipped with a hook.

  • Truck-loader cranes. The crane structure consists of a (retractable) crane arm, which is rotatable and mounted on a truck. For the smaller to medium types, the truck also has space for a load area. The versions with a non- foldable crane arm are very popular in North America and are referred to there as ‘boom trucks’. The capacity can be up to 150 tonnes. At Mammoet, we have the necessary Fassi and Palfinger foldable truck-mounted cranes, both with load area and mounted on tractors. Non-foldable versions are from brands such as Manitex, National and Terex.

  • Tow-truck cranes. The crane structure usually consists of a short (rigid) crane arm and is mounted on a (modified) truck, capacities up to 136 tonnes. Within Mammoet, we have had Gar-Woods, among others.

As regards the superstructure, all these types of mobile cranes (except the truck loading cranes) may be equipped with a telescopic or lattice boom, but not every combination has proved equally successful, such as, for example, the rough-terrain crane with a lattice boom.

Types of non-Mobile Cranes:​

The distinction is made on the basis of the substructure:

 

  • Ring cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a ring chassis. The capacity of these cranes can be up to a maximum of 5,000 tonnes. Mammoet has designed and built in-house PTC (Platform Twin Ring Containerized) cranes.

  • Pedestal cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a pedestal with outriggers. Capacity up to 2,268 tonnes. At Mammoet, we have the Terex-Demag CC 6800 on legs: the PC 6800 and we had the Demag MPCs and PC/CC 4200.

  • Tower cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a vertical tower, which is mounted on rails or fixed. The capacity can be up to 240 tonnes. At Mammoet, we have the Wolff 7031 SL and we once had the world’s largest tower crane, the Kroll K10000.

  • Harbour cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a high chassis on quay rails. The most striking feature is the vertical tower to which the mast is attached. The capacity can be up to 2500 tonnes. At Mammoet, we have the PHB A-24.

  • Rail cranes. The crane structure is rotatable and mounted on a train chassis. Capacity of up to 250 tonnes. At Mammoet, we do not (and have not had) cranes of this type.

 

As regards the superstructure, all these types of non-mobile cranes may be equipped with a telescopic or lattice boom, but not every combination has proved equally successful, such as, for example, the port crane with a telescopic mast.

Hydraulic vs. Mechanical

From the mid-1960s, the crane with the telescopic boom made its appearance, a machine that uses hydraulics. The boom
was first mechanically extended (with cables and pulleys), but these were soon replaced by cylinders. More than a decade later, it
was the Japanese manufacturers that also used hydraulics for (crawler) cranes with lattice booms.

 

The 'heart' of the actual crane
Since many versions are possible in terms of substructure and superstructure, the heart of the crane is the front part of the
rotatable superstructure. The accompanying illustrations may clarify this.

 

Most Frequently used designations (within Mammoet)

  • ‘Mobile crane’ or ‘hydro’ (abbreviation of hydraulic) – this means a crane with a telescopic boom

  • ‘Crawler crane’ – this means a crawler crane with a lattice boom

  • ‘Ring crane’ – this means a ring crane with a lattice boom

Brains behind the Cranes

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