Custom Built Steel Crane Buildings

Steel is the industry standard when it comes to crane buildings. No other construction material can match such a significant strength-to-weight ratio with the low prices that go hand-in-hand with pre-engineered steel buildings. And the technology employed in crane buildings is improving every day! If you have worked with older crane models in the past, you will be impressed with the reduction in noise of today's technology, along with the increased efficiency of the latest models.

While certain industrial and commercial operations can only be accomplished using a crane building set-up, there is also a growing number of crane building customers who are using cranes as a replacement (or in addition) to other conventional methods for moving heavy loads; the results can mean increased efficiency, and often a more economical use of a smaller workspace. Consider the following quotation, taken from an article written for Modern Materials Handling: "Mention materials handling, and most people think of moving materials at floor level, using lift trucks, conveyors, and automatic guided vehicles. Warehouses and plants, however, are three dimensional. Sometimes it makes more sense to use the whole cube of the facility, including the space above the floor, to move the goods. That's where cranes come into play." 1


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Crane & Crane Building Options

If you are new to the world of crane buildings, you may wish to sign up for a Free 7-day Trial offered by HighBeam Research, so you can download several articles like, 'Crane Basics,' written by Bob Trebilcock, for Modern Materials Handling. Trebilcock explains that there are really three basic elements at work in a crane system: the Bridge, the Trolley, and a Hoist. The bridge is the set of rails on which the trolley runs; bridges can be both dynamic (moveable) and static (unmoving). As the trolley runs along the rails of the bridge, it carries the hoist from one horizontal location to another. This hoist is attached to the load and is responsible for vertical lifting.

“Cranes can be manual or power driven, depending on the application and the size of the load that has to be moved,” Trebilcock outlines, and “some applications involve completely automated cranes whose movements are directed by software.” 1

Another great resource, and crane building knowledge base, is the 'Crane-ium University' Education Area of Dearborn Overhead Crane's website. This site describes each of the basic types of crane and crane building that are currently on the market, and also features an archive of crane-related documents, articles, and publications. There are two main overarching categories of crane, each with a series of sub-categories. These two main categories are Workstation (freestanding rigs which are generally employed in “production environments”) and Overhead (used for lifting heavy loads over large spans of area). 2

Overhead Cranes consist primarily of Bridge Cranes. Designed for major lifting tasks, bridge cranes are mounted on the ceiling. One of the big advantages of bridge cranes is the superb precision and high degree of safety that can be achieved in the positioning of massive loads. Another type of overhead crane is the “top-running, under-hung crane.” 1 Trebilcock notes that these cranes are meant for much lighter loads. Where bridge cranes lift “loads of up to 600 tons – or more,” under-hung crane trolleys “run on the bottom of support i-beams” and therefore “are meant for loads of 15 tons or less.” Their advantages lie in the fact that they can “get loads much closer to the facility walls,” however, under-hung cranes are also limited in that they cannot “lift the load as high as a top-running (bridge) crane system.” 1

Workstation Cranes, are different from overhead systems in that they are free-standing, as opposed to being supported by the components of the structure containing them, and are further broken up into the following sub-classifications: Gantry Cranes, Jib Cranes (and Articulating-Arm Jib), and Monorails. Gantry cranes share many of their characteristics with the bridge crane, yet are different in that, being workstation cranes, they are freestanding. Trebilcock notes that gantry cranes are therefore typically limited to load capacities of “between 1 and 5 tons, and spans of up to 30 feet.” Gantry cranes come both powered and un-powered (with manually controlled mechanisms). They consist of “two uprights connected by an I-beam that serves as a bridge for the trolley;” these uprights are either fixed into the floor, or are on wheels. Their most common application is within “maintenance operations.” 1&2

bridge crane building facility

Gantry Crane Building

Gantry crane installation

Bridge Crane Building

jib crane

Jib Crane Building

Jib cranes offer either 360 degrees of rotation, as is the case with free standing systems that are “bolted to the floor,” or between 180 and 200 degrees, in the case of “wall- or counter-mounted jib cranes.”2 The advantages of a jib crane are practicality and ease in precision positioning. Articulating-arm jib systems feature “a two piece pivoting arm” and make possible the very utmost in precise positioning of the borne load. According to the Crane-ium's data, Jib systems currently are designed to support loads of between “500 lbs and 10,000 lbs” (that is, roughly from 1/4 ton, up to 5 tonnes). 2

Monorails, on the other hand, are composed of “an I-beam track that hangs from the ceiling,” and, while also limited to loads of approximately “150 lbs – 20,000 lbs” (10 tonnes),2 their advantages are the direct result of the speed with which they can transport that load over a great distance. In Trebilcock's article, he quotes an industry expert who notes that the main concession with monorail systems are related to the costs of making any changes to “'the layout and path of a monorail system.'” Therefore, it is wise to be absolutely certain of the desired path for your monorail crane, before undertaking its installation.

These are the main categories and sub-classes of crane building on the market, however, there are a plethora of other iterations and combinations of these technologies in existence currently, as are there new technologies constantly being invented and tested, and subsequently entering into the market to continue to revolutionize the crane building world. Once you have outlined your basic projected requirements, using our Free Online Quotes Service, be sure to let the manufacturers know that you are open to discussing any other options they might suggest, to make sure you don't miss out on the opportunity to make use of new advances that have occurred in crane building technology. By the same token, it is imperative that you conduct your own research whenever new technology is an option to be sure that whatever is being suggested will not only fulfill, but exceed your requirements.

Believe it or not, the history of the crane can be traced back prior to the Ancient Roman civilization, to that of the Ancient Greeks in the 6th Century BCE – and perhaps to those from even earlier times. According to J.J. Coulton's article, 'Lifting in Early Greek Architecture,' which he produced for the Journal of Hellenic Studies, we see evidence of “the simple pulley” in an “Assyrian relief of the ninth century B.C.,” and evidence of the Greek employment of crane-like lifting systems has been uncovered as early as “515 BCE.” Coulton points out that crane-related pulley system descriptions appear in Mechanical Problems, “attributed to Aristotle, but more probably written by a member of his school in the early third century B.C.” 3This is Coulton's opinion, which he acquired from authors such as A.G. Drachman, who authored 'The Mechanical Technology of Greek and Roman Antiquity.' It is this author's opinion that, given the extent of Aristotle's contact with the knowledge and learnings of numerous cultures foreign to his own, there is a good chance that he would have been familiar himself with sufficient resources to author these sections of Mechanical Problems.

From ancient times, all the way into the present, crane technology has been in a constant state of development, and pre-engineered steel crane buildings are at the very forefront of this technological evolution. Don't miss out on the opportunity to revolutionize your operation with the latest in crane building technology.



  1. Many quotes in this article have come from Bob Trebilcock's superb article, 'Crane Basics,' written for Modern Materials Handling; Warehousing Management Edition, vol.63 (2008), iss.4, pg.50.
    Bob Trebilcock on LinkedIn , Bob Trebilcock on Facebook
  2. Dearborn Overhead Crane's 'Crane-ium University Education Area' is jam-packed with informative articles on the subject of each type of crane building available presently.  However, many of the articles are for more advanced readers, so beginners are recommended to start from articles like those written by Trebilcock – even a quick browsing of Wikipedia's article on Cranes can be helpful, though one must keep in mind that Wikipedia is here predominantly discussing free-crane systems, and not crane buildings.
  3. These quotes have been taken from J.J. Coulton's article, 'Lifting in Early Greek Architecture,' which he wrote for the Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 94 (1974), pg's 1-19.  Articles of historical interest such as this one can be obtained through one's local library, or by signing up for a membership with online archives like JSTOR: Journal Storage Online at: