Boom Trucks and Crane Trucks – What’s the Difference?


Both vehicles furnish a way to lift heavy material attached to long arms that make moving easier; however, there are certain differences between the two that affect load limits, lift methods, and job suitability. This commercial equipment is basically long arms that run on either hydraulics, steel cables, or chains. They do all the lifting whatever the model – straight, stick, telescoping, or articulating. The main differences is usually with allowable weight limits, ability to get from one place to another, and the amount of space required to be used correctly. In almost every case, the size of the load limit that can be carried is directly proportionate to the size of the vehicle due to a crane’s tendency to tip when overloaded.

  • Telescopic Boom Trucks – This is probably the most familiar version of the crane truck, outfitted with a straight, telescoping arm that collapses within itself to store at the rear of the vehicle or over the top of the cab. Fully extended, the boom is made of extensions that telescope out to the desired length and then collapse into itself to make job site relocation very feasible – as opposed to stationary cranes that must be moved from one work site to another. They come in different sizes and varying load capacities, ranging from light industrial such as a public utilities truck to heavy industrial units on tracks for easy maneuvering around construction sites.
  • Knuckleboom Trucks – A newer version of the crane family, knuckleboom trucks improve upon the idea of telescoping booms with a folding arm known as a knuckle or articulating boom to improve portability. The lifting arm folds down for more compact storage, unfolds for use, and includes an end section that either extends or telescopes to reach desired heights. It can swivel and is generally much more flexible at working in and around job site obstacles as well as in smaller working areas. Limited by vehicle base size, smaller knuckleboom trucks are often found in light industrial applications, while heavy-duty versions are found working as unloaders and material lifts at construction sites, warehouses, piers and more.
  • Stick or Straight Boom Cranes – These are the heaviest lifting machines of all the different versions, usually found only at construction sites and other areas where very heavy lifting is done in more open spaces. Commonly seen as huge trucks with either giant balloon tires or tracks, these cranes can get from place to place, although it is usually slowly and not very efficiently and many times having to be loaded onto trailers for more convenient transport. Since the crane arm is straight, non-articulating, and non-telescoping, this machine’s sole purpose is brute power. The unit itself must be positioned exactly where the crane needs to lift, as opposed to the other types that allow for boom positioning relative to where the truck is parked. Having been built onto much larger vehicles and run with chains, cables and other more fixed methods, a straight crane has a much greater lifting capability.

Based on the different crane types as well as their construction and functionality, companies in need can choose ones that best suit most work needs. It is always vital to pay attention to details such as load limits, adjustability, unit size, and maneuverability in order to make the best equipment decisions. With the right cranes, accidents can be prevented and work can stay on schedule to a successful conclusion!


Source by Christopher M. Hunter

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