How Does a Crane Work?

October 15, 2018by elite0

At Sheedy Drayage Co. we are capable of performing almost any hoisting, rigging, or hauling task efficiently and safely. We have an extensive fleet of mobile and specialty cranes to get the job done in any industry. From tanks, refineries, power plants, steel and rebar, and mechanical equipment to emergency assistance or movie and television support, we have decades of experience working with every type of business.

A crane uses a variety of simple machines to create large amounts of support and leverage. Using wire ropes or chains, sheaves, and a hoist rope, cranes can move extremely large and heavy loads that are far beyond the capability of humans. The Ancient Greeks were the first known inventors of the modern construction crane and employed the use of human treadwheels and animals to power the structures. Since then, technology has grown exponentially and so has the use and complexity of cranes. There are hundreds of various crane forms, with each design tailored for a specific use. Our cranes can be used to construct high buildings, while our flying jibs can be used for highly specific purposes, such as getting a load into a building with an overhang.

Anatomy of a Crane

Cranes are a staple of any large construction site. As said above, there are a large variety of crane types; however, they are all engineered to perform a similar task. That is, to lift and move heavy loads. Cranes are generally mobile pieces of equipment due to the fact that they must travel to many different construction sites around the country. If you’ve ever seen one while in operation, maybe you’ve wondered how the metal arm can lift and support a huge amount of weight while not toppling over. There are quite a few engineering and physics feats that go into each lift and having engineers that know the mathematics behind each job is imperative to the success of the job. Some jobs are completed in busy cities with many people around the job site; because of this, error is simply not an option.

The majority of cranes feature a number of pulleys and cables to lift and lower heavy pieces of equipment and material. Think generators, turbines, huge slabs of concrete and other materials that weigh thousands of pounds. Ever wonder how they get those huge glass windows into skyscrapers? The answer is simple: cranes. Here’s the basic anatomy of one:


  • The boom – This is what the very end of the crane looks like. It’s the long steel arm that has the hook or another specialized piece of equipment on the end of it.
  • The hook and ball – the shape and size of the hook depend on a few things, such as how much weight the crane is carrying and what industry it is being used for. For example, gigantic steel claws are used in scrap yards to pick up huge amounts of steel debris. For another application, a hook is more suitable for lifting large shipping containers from port to ship.
  • The jib – either connected at the top or end of the boom, its structure carries the load and extends the boom to provide increased mobility. Think of the jib as the wrist and the boom as the arm, with the hook being the fingers of the crane.
  • Counterweight – this is one of the measures used to make sure that the crane does not topple over due to the weight differential. Either found at the base of the crane or near the cab of the crane, these counterbalance the weight being lifted by the boom to ensure the safety of the workers and the construction site.
  • Outriggers – Severe shifts in balance occur when operating a crane, due to the weight of the load. These are used in addition to counterweights to help stabilize the entire crane by using hydraulics to lift the entire crane at once.
  • Steel Cables – these travel alongside the arm, with the average cable capable of carrying an excess of 10,000 pounds of weight or more per cable. More cables are used for certain jobs, with some varieties being able to handle much more weight than others.


Crane Rentals in California

With over 85 years of experience with small jobs and large jobs alike, Sheedy Drayage Co. has distinguished ourselves as a leader in the industry. It doesn’t matter whether it’s residential, commercial or heavy industrial; there is simply no job that we can’t handle.


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