It’s well known that cranes are the backbone of the construction industry, with the ability to move, lift and lower the heavy materials needed in building and development they are the instrumental element required to bring anything from small-scale structures to the grandest of buildings to reality. Take a look at the skyline of any modern city and you can see the contemporary vistas that cranes have played a large hand in creating.
So how are cranes made? The design and creation of lifting equipment have an early history and a high tech future. The need for mechanical engineering with complete precision and zero room for error when creating the supersized equipment, make crane manufacturing uniquely remarkable.
A History of Cranes
Lifting equipment has been used throughout human history, although early model cranes are almost urecognizable compared to the lifting equipment we see today; the fundamental methods and the engineering behind the working of the equipment are still relevant in the present crane and construction industry.
One of the most notable historical cranes hails from Ancient Egypt. During this time wooden beams or booms were attached to a rotating base connected to a cylindrical drum, rope and pulley system. The power needed to lift heavy materials was generated by animals and more often than not humans! Using a wheel or treadmill, rope was wound around the drum raising a hook and any materials attached to it. Although safety was not the paramount concern, the use of wood, a rope and other materials to construct crane like equipment was the most efficient method for lifting heavy materials during this time.
During the Middle Ages, the need for more robust equipment propelled advancement in crane design and construction. Many grand cathedrals and stone building were built during this era with the help of workings arms or jibs. Jibs provided an extended range of motion, reach, and the ability to pivot. The introduction of steam-powered engines and electric motors saw the need for human-generated power left behind, these advancements came alongside the move towards the use of metal crane materials instead of wood. The use of cast iron and steel for the construction of cranes increased the equipment lifting capacity exponentially, meaning more ambitious projects could be could be completed in a fraction of the time.
A working crane is subject to extreme amounts of pressure on a daily basis, not only from lifting materials typically weighing in the tons but also because cranes themselves are unbelievably heavy. The ability to balance weight comes down to physics and engineering – the materials used to construct the crane also play a role.
High strength low alloy steel (SHLA) is typically used for the construction of cranes, this type of metal uses a number of hardening elements to add strength, making the material better for mechanical. The lifespan of equipment is also increased due to corrosion resistant elements – a highly beneficial property for cranes.
Before the use of SHLAs, the weight of a crane would dictate its lift capacity, meaning lifting extremely weighty materials required very heavy-duty cranes. The more giant a construction crane, the more logistical factors need be considered. Issues that may arise from very heavy cranes include increased costs for safe transportation, erection, and dismantlement. Cranes constructed using high strength low alloy steel are more lightweight and energy efficient, whilst still maintaining strength and lift capacity.
The manufacturing of a crane normally begins with molten steel, this steel is then transformed into the parts needed to build the crane using various processes, for instance, the steel plates and sheets on a crane are created under extreme pressure using rollers. These materials are then shaped and sized using precision cutting tools for complete accuracy.
The process of piecing the crane together often takes place at a separate manufacturing factory, here all parts of the crane are attached using welding and bolting – the arrangement of the steel is dependent on the type of crane being manufactured, for example, mobile cranes require rubber elements for wheels whereas a tower crane would not. To ensure quality control and safety, cranes are tested vigorously by the manufacturer.
Advanced Crane Control Systems
If the steel elements of a crane are the skeleton of the machine, then the control system is the brain. Advanced crane control systems work by supporting simple operation, improving productivity, efficiency, and safety.
Intelligent systems assist operation in various ways;
- Sway Control Systems reduce load swing and sway during a lift. Limiting sway can reduce the stress placed on the mechanical and electrical components of the crane, cutting down maintenance necessities and costs.
- Intuitive Boom Operating Systems (IBO) provide accurate and reliable information to crane operators about optimal boom Insights from the IBO can boost productivity, helping the project stay on schedule and under budget.
- Load Monitor Indicators track stability and provide operators with important calculations such as boom positioning, actual weight, and working radius.
As one of the most widely used types of machinery in the construction industry, cranes are manufactured in abundance, some are of bespoke design, created to jobs on very specific projects, others can be rented or purchased from crane rental companies for long-term or short-term use.
In Need of a Crane?
Maxim Crane is a coast-to-coast provider of crane rental and lifting services. As specialists in our field, we offer innovative solutions to meet your project’s needs. Situated in over 50 locations, each branch is able to provide management services, including transportation, risk management, safety and insurance programs that are unparalleled in the industry.