A crane is one of the most expensive pieces of equipment you are likely to own. Cranes are expensive to buy and insure, dangerous to operate, and require trained or certified operators.On the other hand, buying or leasing can pay off if the crane is used even half the time. If you feel that you need a crane, here are a few simple questions to ask yourself:
  • What will I use the crane for?
  • What kinds of surfaces will it work on?
  • How will I transport it to the jobsite and on what kinds of roads will it travel? Are these roads load- or width-restricted?
  • What lift capacity will it need?
  • How high will it need to reach?
  • How far horizontally will it need to reach?
  • Do I want to buy or lease?
  • Do I want to buy a new or a used crane?
  • Do I want a boom truck, a truck crane, an all-terrain crane or a rough-terrain crane?
  • Do I want a telescopic or an articulating boom?
  • If I want a boom truck, how much payload should the truck carry?Some important points that may help with your decision:
  • An all-terrain crane is a combination of a rough-terrain crane and a truck crane that uses the most expensive parts from each, says Jeff Blacker of Terex Cranes in Conway, S.C. Generally he does not recommend them.
  • Cranes have a high resale value. Some bigger cranes actually appreciate in value due to the higher prices and long delivery times of new cranes (up to nine months). Even truck cranes or boom trucks that depreciate hold a large portion of their value.
  • On a boom truck, the crane's weight determines the payload it can carry without exceeding highway load limits.
  • Straight-boom, telescopic cranes can lift loads higher than articulating booms. Articulating booms, however, have more maneuverability in placing a load.
  • Consider durability and service availability when deciding. A wise approach is to work with a well-established local dealer.
  • Most articulating cranes are made in Europe, where they were developed. National Crane is the only articulating crane manufacturer in the United States. The crane business is very international.
  • Also look for versatility and highly-reliable safety features, advises Joe Irving of Palfinger, Niagara Falls, Ont. Remote radio controls, automatic load- or moment-limiting devices, and automatic load locking (in case of loss of hydraulic pressure) are typical safety features.
  • The load that can be lifted is a function of the working radius (load x radius = lifting moment of the crane).
  • Some cranes can rotate continuously around their base; others have rotation limits, which may be greater than 360 degrees.It would take a lot of time to sift through all the information available on cranes. A knowledgeable local dealer who handles several crane lines is often your best resource for the information you need. Lift Equipment magazine and International Cranes magazine are good sources. All manufacturers will give you information over the phone and most have Web sites. This article defines different cranes and lists manufacturers. Before you buy, spend time researching your needs and options. It will be time well spent when you end up with a crane that meets your needs.