Brian's House Building Blog

Five Signs You Need a Tower Crane and When to Opt for a Mobile Crane Instead

by Peyton Sanders

If you need to invest in a crane for your business, your main choice is between a tower and a mobile crane. Both of these cranes offer different advantages in different situations. Wondering which crane you need for your project? Here are some signs you may need a tower crane and a few tips on when you should opt for a mobile crane instead:

1. You have a constant need for a strong crane.

If you run a mine or any other facility where you need a crane on a regular basis, you may want a tower crane. That way, you can set up the crane next to your site, and it's always ready to go when you need it. You don't have to dispatch a mobile crane to the area every time you need to lift something heavy.

However, if you need cranes in multiple spots on your work site and you don't necessarily need every crane everyday at the same time, you may want to opt for mobile cranes. That way, you can easily move the fleet of cranes to where you need them, and you almost always have a crane waiting on stand by.

2. You need a high jib reach with maximum movement capacity.

Both tower and mobile cranes can reach to high heights and lift heavy loads. For example, the world's highest tower crane recently went into service in Australia, and it boasts a 75 metre jib, a freestanding height of 89 metres, and a lifting capacity of 66 tonnes. In contrast, one of the world's most powerful mobile cranes, the LTM 11200-9.1 can extend up to 100 metres in height and lift 1,200 tonnes. 

The main difference between these two cranes, however, is that the mobile crane cannot move its load laterally as effectively as the tower crane. In fact, when fully loaded, the mobile crane cited above, can only move its load laterally about 2 metres. It simply doesn't have the counterweight needed to move the load without tipping over. In contrast, a tower crane can provide you with an efficient combination of height, lifting power and lateral movement.

3. You want to cut down on fuel costs.

Once you have a tower crane set up, it doesn't rely on petrol to work. That can help to save your team money over the duration of the project. As a result, if you want to cut down on petrol usage, a tower crane also makes sense.

4. You don't want to devote an employee to signalling work.  

When you use a mobile crane, you typically need someone surveying the movement, signalling to the crane operator to ensure the crane is moving safely. With a tower crane, in contrast, you don't have to pay someone to do signalling for you. Keep in mind, however, that you will likely need extra staff to set up the tower crane.

As a result, if you are setting up the crane once and using it in the same place, it makes sense to pay extra staff for setup and then save money on the signaler in the long run. However, if you only have a short project, it typically works more effectively to use a mobile crane that comes ready to use. That means you can save on setup costs and only pay the cost of a signaler throughout the duration of the project.

5. You want a relatively small crane footprint.

In most cases, tower cranes have smaller footprints than mobile trailers, which are mounted on trucks. The relatively small footprint allows you to set up tower cranes on your work site in a relatively discrete spot, and you don't have to worry about them getting in the way other equipment, structures or people. However, in some spaces, if you have a really tight spot and don't have room for a tower crane, you may want to consider a hand operated crane -- however, that only works if you have modest lifting requirements.

Still not sure if you need a tower crane or a mobile crane for your project? Contact a crane company like Freo Group for more information.