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8 Components of a Crane and Their Function

Cranes are essential pieces of equipment on construction sites around the world. They make various steps of the building process possible, from reaching the heights of urban skyscrapers to installing trusses on the roofs of rural barns. With cranes, construction crews can work with materials that would be impossible to lift by hand.

Different parts of a crane come together to create the large piece of equipment you recognize from miles away. If you work with cranes on your job site, then it’s important for you to understand the parts of a crane and their functions so you can use your cranes to their fullest potential.

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Crane Parts and Functions

Cranes are a wonder of engineering, and every part is essential for its functioning. Here are eight of the most important crane components you should know about.

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1. The Hook

This may be one of the most recognizable and important parts of a construction crane. The hook is the main connecting point between the crane and the load it needs to carry. When you need to move large or heavy items around your job site, you can trust the hook to hold them so the rest of the crane can do its work.

Hooks should be durable and strong so they can handle substantial loads of materials. But hooks rely on other items to pick up a load. The next items on this list play a crucial role in the crane’s ability to lift objects with the hook.

2. Wire Rope and Sheaves

Cranes use heavy-duty wire ropes to lift extreme loads. These ropes are actually cables made of steel wires twisted into the shape of a helix. Then several of these helixes are twisted together to create an even stronger rope. These wire ropes give the crane its strength to lift objects with the hook.

Sheaves are crane components that can increase the weight the hook can lift. A sheave is a pulley system that holds wire ropes that connect to the rest of the crane. The more wire ropes, the more weight is distributed. This allows the hook to lift heavier loads than a single wire rope would be able to lift.

3. The Boom

The boom is one of the largest crane parts, often visible from several miles away depending on the size of the crane. Acting as the arm that holds the load, the boom allows a crane to move heavy items around and send materials far from where the base of the boom is.

There are two types of booms:

  • Lattice boom: This boom consists of welded steel, reminiscent of the appearance of a lattice. This gives it great strength while reducing the weight of the boom.
  • Hydraulic boom: This boom has telescoping sections, allowing it to extend to reach far places and collapse for easy transportation.

4. Counterweights

Cranes hold a huge amount of weight. They’re able to do this without tipping over by using counterweights. These weights go on the back of the crane and offset the weight of the load. Without counterweights, cranes would tip over in the direction of the boom lift. Counterweights always stay opposite the boom lift to keep the crane grounded and secure.

Counterweights are removable to make transportation easier. You can add or subtract the number of weights in the counterweight system to meet the needs of your current load. Some counterweight systems are towable for even more freedom.

5. Outriggers

Outriggers are crane parts that provide extra safety when moving materials around the job site. Along with counterweights, they ensure that cranes stay standing even when transporting the heaviest of loads. Outriggers extend from the bottom of the crane and stabilize it from the ground. They lift the crane off its wheels, removing the possibility of the crane shifting its position from slight wheel movements.

The combination of outriggers, counterweights and a complex hoist system helps keep your crane secure as it moves heavy loads and materials around the job site. When it comes to operating cranes, safety is key for your entire crew. Outriggers add the extra layer of safety you and your workers need.

6. Wheels and Tracks

Wheels and tracks allow cranes to move around the job site, depending on the terrain. Wheels offer increased mobility, from maneuvering around a job site to driving down the highway at high speeds. They’re the best option for bumpy, uneven ground, but tracks might be your best option if the job site is soft and muddy.

Tracks are long and wide, giving a crane an increased level of stability over wheeled cranes. They’re a bit slower than wheeled cranes and need smooth, even ground for easy operation. But their safety and stability make them an attractive option for many job site managers and engineers.

7. The Hoist

The crane’s hoist, or hoist drum, is the part of the crane that creates lift. It uses a cranking mechanism and a wire rope to raise and lower the hook. It can hold thousands of feet of wire rope, allowing you to move heavy materials over great distances and heights with enough cable left over to maintain a safe hold.

The hoist is what makes it possible for the crane to lift items off the ground. Like the other items on this list, it’s an essential part of the crane and is crucial for it to work. You can find the hoist drum behind the main boom.

8. The Jib

Sometimes cranes need to move materials to an area beyond the reach of the boom. That’s where the jib comes in. This part of the crane is an arm that extends horizontally, providing extra space between the load and the crane. This is useful when you need to move larger or longer loads that require the crane to be farther away during movement.

A regular jib is usually fixed, but a “luffer jib” is a hinged variety found on some cranes. You can move it up or down using its hinges, depending on the location of the main boom at the time of movement.

Contact General Crane for Crane Work in New England

General Crane has been serving areas in New England since our founding in 1972. Since our early days when we only had a single crane to our name, we’ve grown to provide dependable service across construction industries. When your job site needs a crane, we’re the ones to call. We offer novel solutions and provide crane rentals with cranes of several sizes for any job. We even offer boom trucks when you need extra maneuverability on your job site.

Call us today at 860-528-8252 or contact us online for more information. We look forward to serving you on your next New England job site.

 

Looking to buy a crane instead? Check out our guide on BUYING A CRANE VS. HIRING A CRANE.

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The Three Biggest Dangers When Moving Steel

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Erecting and moving heavy materials can be a matter of life and death.

No matter the job, big or small, every construction site presents its own challenges and dangers. But when it comes to moving heavy materials, the cost of a mistake can be a serious injury or even death. Having an experienced professional crane operator is vital for the safety of both the crew and everyone else on or near the worksite. Make sure your operator is well-versed in handling each of these three critical areas.

Load management

A crane operator must be well aware of the capabilities of the equipment he or she is using. Attempting to lift a load that is too heavy for the equipment can lead to a catastrophic accident, including the tipping of the crane. Additionally, the operator must understand load balance and how weather conditions might affect the lift. You’ve probably seen video footage of the nightmare scenario when a steel girder goes slightly off balance or gets caught in a gust of wind. The shifting weight can lead the girder to spin like a helicopter blade! An experienced operator, coupled with the right equipment for the job, will minimize the risk of accidents like these.

Falling

Naturally, one of the worst things that can happen when a crane is lifting any materials is for the load to fall. At the very least, it causes financial loss because of the damage to the material and to whatever it lands on—but you know that the risk to human life is much greater than that.

Always ensure that your crane provider utilizes properly maintained equipment that is regularly load-tested. You also need an operator who understands how to secure all shapes and sizes of heavy loads. Ask questions, and make sure you are working with a company with a full understanding of proper load handling.

Electrical hazards

The load isn’t the only thing that must be considered when utilizing a crane. Obstacles on the job site must be planned around, as well—and among the most dangerous obstacles are high-voltage power lines. If any metal part of a crane (or the load on a crane) comes in contact with a power line, it can kill not only the operator but also multiple people in the vicinity of the crane.

Analyzing a site before beginning a job and creating a safe plan is crucial. Make sure you are working with a company with experience planning for a variety of site layouts and obstructions, and get a clear understanding of the plan before the job even begins.

Safe lifts can be accomplished with the right equipment and the right operators. General Crane’s team will work with site engineers and general contractors to come up with the right plan, and our operators will provide the necessary hands-on experience to help keep everyone safe on the job site.

 

 

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What’s Your Sign?

The right size crane can help even a small business get their signage done right.

When you think about a construction job that needs to utilize a crane, you probably think about something big. You’ve no doubt seen major construction projects like high-rise buildings or gigantic solar panel installations with massive cranes on site, moving materials into place. But construction cranes can be of value in much smaller applications, too.

General Construction Crane recently partnered with a restaurant to help them get their exterior signage erected. We were able to provide the right size crane for the job, and because we are experienced in jobs of all sizes, we were able to complete the job quickly, safely, and efficiently.

It might not seem as important as an enormous steel girder or a large RTU located a long distance into a roof, but building signage can be large and expensive. Why take chances? Utilizing not just any crane, but the RIGHT crane, can save you money and protect your investment.

General Crane has been fulfilling crane rental needs large and small for nearly fifty years, so you can trust us to be able to provide the right piece of equipment for your job. And, just as important, our experienced operators have worked on all kinds of installations. Even if your space is tight and your sign is relatively small, we know how to get it installed right.

We understand that small businesses like restaurants have to watch their budgets closely—and we value the trust they place in us. Our operators can help get their signage and awnings in place quickly and safely, saving them money and getting their businesses looking sharp and customer-ready as soon as possible. No matter what size your job, contact General Crane and find out how we can help you.

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Public Construction Jobs Are a Public Trust

Municipal projects need experienced crane operators as much as for-profit ventures do.

Municipalities and governmental organizations have many of the same concerns as private sector companies when it comes to construction projects. They need to be efficient and safe, and they have to get the job done on time. The difference—government specifications can often be incredibly strict, and the projects are usually being done with public funding and for the benefit of the community at large. So if something goes wrong, it is the public they must answer to.

How can a municipality be sure they are getting the safest, most reliable crane service? In southern New England, they can turn to General Crane, a leading provider of cranes and crane operators for nearly fifty years. One municipality recently turned to us for tree work. The costs involved with their previous service provider were simply too high because that company required too much time to complete work. With the expertise we offer, we were able to be more efficient with our time, saving the town’s taxpayers’ money.

We understand your responsibility to the public. Mistakes or malfunctions can cause expensive delays, and on a municipal project, delays are both frustrating and highly visible. And, of course, public safety is of paramount concern. General Crane’s experienced operators understand how to safely perform even the most difficult hoisting and lifting moves, keeping both crew members and the general public out of harm’s way.

Just like we do with our private sector projects, General Crane takes into account critical deadlines, cost concerns, and safety planning with all our municipal jobs. When you are working for the public good, you can’t cut corners! Trust a company with the experience to do the job safely, on time, and on budget. Contact General Crane to find out more!

 

Heavy equipment warning sign

So … what’s your plan?

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To move heavy, expensive materials and machines, you need to get the strategy right first.

Every construction site presents unique challenges. Materials are often awkward, heavy, and expensive—and contractors need to have a strategy for moving and lifting to keep both the materials and the workers safe.

A successful strategy involves both the right equipment and the right operators. At General Crane, our team has the experience to recommend the best methods for moving and staging even the most cumbersome building materials. It all starts with good planning.

Our planners will work hand-in-hand with site engineers and general contractors, as well as skilled tradesmen, to come up with the right equipment and lifting methods for each job. Will heavy loads have to be lifted into awkward or difficult spaces? How will the transportation of the materials affect public walkways and common areas? Could power, water, or gas lines be compromised?

These are the things that must be considered before equipment can start moving heavy materials on site. Planning like this not only helps save money and prevent loss or downtime, it can absolutely help safeguard the well-being of people on the site (both workers and civilians).

The right crane, coupled with a properly qualified operator, can move and place heavy materials and items quickly and efficiently. Stacking, lifting, storing, moving—there are a wide variety of cranes available, and we have the expertise to match the right equipment and the right operator to your job.

The next time you need a crane to move something on a construction job, consult with us first. We’ll assess your project and come up with the right strategy to protect your materials, keep your crew safe, and increase your productivity.

Ferris wheel at night

Bringing Thrill Rides to Life Takes Expertise

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The Big E trusts General Crane to help construct their exciting Midway rides

If you’ve lived in southern New England for even a year or two, you know about the Big E. It’s an enormous 17-day exposition held in West Springfield, Massachusetts, that begins each year on the second Friday after Labor Day. It is basically a gigantic “state fair” that encompasses not only Massachusetts, but also Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. You can tour the Avenue of States to enjoy the amazing food and attractions from each of the participants, and then try your luck on one of the Midway games or take in a concert from a top named artist.

And then there are the rides! You can soar through the air on the Yo Yo or the Cliff Hanger, or enjoy a breathtaking view atop the Giant Wheel. The Big E features dozens of thrilling rides that, unlike a permanent amusement park, must be assembled at the site and then removed at the end of the fair. Have you ever thought about HOW they manage to get that done?

Cranes play a huge part in the process, and The Big E trusts General Crane to provide the equipment and expertise. Each ride has unique height and weight specs, and General Crane partners with the expo’s planners to make sure the right crane (and crane operator) are assigned to each project.

We’re proud to be selected by an organization like the Big E. Nothing is more important than the safety of their attendees, and that safety begins with the proper assembly of the rides. General Crane brings the equipment and the knowledge to help make that happen!

 

Solving a Building Puzzle, Step by Step

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General Crane comes up with a novel solution for a tight construction space

One of our customers was recently faced with a construction project that, at first glance, seemed difficult. They needed to build a four-story set of stairs on the back of a building, but the neighboring buildings were too close to allow them to maneuver their construction equipment into the courtyard. How could they make it happen?

They contacted General Crane, and we came up with a plan utilizing crane equipment in a simple and efficient way. We provided a crane with enough capacity to pick a large boom lift and swing over and between neighboring buildings and finally setting it into a tight courtyard, allowing them to access the location of the new stairs and move their building materials.

We then lifted the steel and stairs into the courtyard where they were to weld and assemble the complete staircase. Finally, upon completion of the finished project which was —four stories, 12 feet per story—and with little room for maneuvering we carefully lifted the equipment back up, over and between the buildings.

Crane equipment often provides the solution to construction problems that seem impossible. You just need an expert who can see your challenge from a different perspective, and who knows how to select the right equipment and operator for the job.

At General Crane, our team has the experience to come up with the right plan. If you need to move heavy, expensive building materials, or navigate an awkward building site, give us a call! We’ll help you figure out the best (and safest) way to get it done.

 

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Have You Thought About the Risks Involved in Your Next Job?

An experienced crane operator is the key to minimizing both financial and physical hazards.

If you’re looking to rent crane equipment, chances are you are already well aware of the size and scope of the job ahead of you. Complex crane projects like building or modifying cell towers and installing solar panels involve unique risks and high costs. Imagine a load of solar panels crashing to the ground from thirty feet in the air! A mistake on a job like that can wreak havoc on your budget—or worse.

One of the most important aspects of crane work is the experience of the operator. A person working on a cell tower in a man basket can be held up in the air by a crane twenty stories above the ground or more. What could be more important than a qualified operator? And certainly, a solar panel installation or similarly intricate project involves extraordinary upfront costs—with high-priced materials that simply can’t be lost to careless accidents.

Elevated construction and maintenance put your bottom line—and even human life—at great risk. Competent, skilled crane operators help you minimize that risk.

Can you afford a crane specialist?

For projects involving cranes, you simply can’t afford NOT to have an experienced operator at the helm. A qualified crane operator will protect your investment by avoiding costly and time-consuming mistakes on the job site, and on dangerous projects, that person will provide the expertise needed to help safeguard the well-being of everyone on the site.

When you rent crane equipment, make sure you are also getting the best operators available. At General Construction Crane Services, we use only experienced crane operators no matter what size the job is, so we provide safe, dependable service each and every time. Partner with us, and you can be sure you’ll have the kind of experienced manpower you’ll need to help keep your job site efficient and safe.

Mobile crane hanging a sign

Choosing the Right Crane Company for Your Sign Installation

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It’s that time of year to make sure your stockings are hung with care, in hopes that Saint Nick will pay you a visit. Just like those stockings, it’s important to hang your signage with care so that your customers can see you and stop in. High quality signage can be a significant cost for any business. Most are willing to make the investment because the return is great. What they must take into consideration is how to get the sign hung properly. There is lots to consider when determining how to install your sign.

hanging sign

Many of the larger sign producers have small boom or sign trucks but that might not be the ideal solution for a larger sign. You need to have the right equipment to ensure the signage is put up properly and stays there. Crane rental saves money in the long run to ensure the sign is hung with no problems.

The main consideration is safety, for any of the people involved in hanging the sign. To help ensure this, you need to first make sure that the sign is rigged properly when putting it in place. It should also have a tag line on it to control the sign. This will also help to avoid the effect of wind. The greater the surface of the sign, the greater the possibility for swing. An experienced team will take these things into consideration.

This process holds true for a variety of sign products from site and neon, LED signs or digital signs. Regardless of the type of sign, it needs to be hung with care. When determining how to install your sign, consider hiring a professional crane operator to do the job safely and efficiently.

Contact Us at 860-528-8252 for your sign needs.

using a crane for tree removal

The Complexity of Tree Work When a Crane is Needed  

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Removing trees from a property can be tricky. Using a crane to do the work adds an additional layer of complexity. That is why it’s imperative to hire the right crane operators for the job.

In addition to being licensed, experienced and professional, there are other requirements for crane assisted tree removal.

The tree expert needs to be an expert on the type of trees being removed.

It’s imperative that the crane operator understands the weight of the trees they’re working with. Obviously an oak weighs more than a birch, but what does that mean as it relates to removal?

We recently worked with a tree guy who could tell us the weight of each cut piece to within a hundred pounds.  The project went smoothly because the ground crew was prepared to tell us the job specifications. We then did not have to constantly adjust the crane once the log was picked up.  The expertise of the tree expert saved the client time and money when removing trees.

The crane operator needs to be experienced.

Often tree work requires the crane operator to do work that is not in the line of sight. This can be very challenging for someone who does not have experience in crane assisted tree removal.

They also need to understand how the weight and shape of each log will affect the process. Worst case scenario, underestimating the weight could lead to tipping the crane, or overestimating the weight cold lead to dropping the log where you don’t want it to fall. Our highly skilled operators go through extensive training to prepare them for these scenarios, saving the client’s bottom line.

It’s that time of year when property managers need to address their tree needs. Before the winter storms with snow and wind, they need to get the unhealthy trees cut and removed. Make sure you choose the right team to do it for you. Contact General Crane or give us a call today.