5 Practical Advantages of Mobile Cranes & Self-Erecting Cranes Over Tower Cranes

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When a construction project requires the use of a crane and flexibility is important, then consider a mobile or self-erecting crane. Mobile cranes are versatile crane types that are typically mounted on a truck or trailer and can be deployed in numerous job sites and for various tasks. Unlike tower cranes, self-erecting cranes do not require permanent mounting on a crane base.

As their names suggest, one of the biggest advantages of a mobile crane or self-erecting crane is their mobility. This advantage is supported by several others that make it a great alternative to the traditional tower crane.

Below, we look at why mobile cranes are a better solution for your construction needs.

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Crane Hire

#1. Versatility

Despite its popularity, tower cranes can come with numerous disadvantages in certain building situations. Not only is a tower crane incapable of movement once it has been fixed to the ground, but its large size also makes it difficult to deploy in various job sites.

Mobile cranes, on the other hand, can be used in numerous building projects. While it cannot reach the same stratospheric heights as a tower crane, a mobile crane is better equipped to work on projects like bridges, residential buildings, airports, and roadways.

#2. Accessibility

A mobile crane’s versatility also provides extreme accessibility.

As mobile cranes can be vehicle-mounted or on their own feet, they can be deployed in difficult-to-access job sites, particularly those in remote locations. Being vehicle-mounted means they can traverse a diverse range of terrain, including off-road and rough surfaces.

Not requiring a base platform for self-erecting cranes also offers advantages where permanent vehicle access is not possible.

Because mobile cranes are required to be useful in numerous applications, power sources are as versatile as the mobile cranes themselves. Mobile cranes can be operated by different power sources, including gas and electric.

#3. Space

The steady march of urbanization means space is a limited commodity. This limits a tower crane’s ability to operate in many job sites. This is particularly true in urban settings such as residential plots.

Mobile cranes do not have this same problem. Their small stature means they can operate on job sites with limited space. They can even maneuver in tight spaces in a way that tower cranes fail to do so.

Mobile cranes that are vehicle-mounted like Rough Terrain Cranes or Crawler Cranes also have a wider center of gravity. This provides increased stability and greater load distribution control.

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Self Erecting Cranes

#4. Superior strength

Due to its size, a common false assumption of mobile cranes is that it is not capable of the same levels of strength that a tower crane provides. But, size alone doesn’t determine a crane’s load capacity.

In fact, the world’s strongest crane is not a tower crane — it’s a mobile crane. The Liebherr LTM 11200-9.1 is a telescopic mobile crane that is capable of lifting 1088.622 tonnes (1,200 tons). Its telescopic capabilities also make it the tallest telescopic crane, able to extend up to 100 meters.

A mobile crane’s rated load capacity can vary according to its size. On average though, a mobile crane can lift anywhere from 9.07 tonnes (10 tons) and approach 272.155 tonnes (300 tons). This large range of lifting capabilities means there’s a mobile crane suited for your load carrying requirements.

#5. Time

Undoubtedly, one of the most practical advantages of a mobile crane over a tower crane is its fast setup. Tower cranes are labor-intensive installations and require significant time and effort to erect. This is particularly true if your project is done across multiple job sites.

The setup requirements for a mobile crane are less demanding. Vehicle-mounted mobile cranes do not require time to be erected, like a tower crane. Once stabilized, a vehicle-mounted mobile crane or ground based self-erecting crane can be immediately put to work.

What’s more, a mobile crane’s mobility means it can move from job site to job site with minimal downtime.

Its quick setup also makes mobile cranes ideal for building projects short on time.

A quick installation process means a mobile crane is perfectly suited for jobs that need to be done within a day. This reduces overhead costs for a construction project as well as wasted time.

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Self Erecting Crane

Other benefits of mobile cranes

There are specialized mobile cranes such as a telehandler mobile crane that employs the latest advancements in technology. Telehandlers are outfitted with modern solutions such as radio control and computerized load calculations to further improve work capabilities.

Radio control, in particular, further diversifies a mobile crane and its abilities.

Operators can now control the mobile crane outside of the cab. This provides enhanced, fine positioning of the boom. This functionality is not possible if the operator was working in the personnel cage of a large tower crane.

This is not to say though that tower cranes are not capable of such modern feats. There are remote control tower cranes that provide functionalities similar to the radio controlled mobile crane.

All of these benefits amount to one thing: Mobile cranes and self-erecting cranes are a cost-effective solution for construction companies looking to finish a job effectively and quickly.

While tower cranes may be advantageous in certain situations, mobile cranes provide unique flexibility not found in a tower crane.

About the Author: Hermann Buchberger is the Founder and CEO of Active Crane Hire (ACH). He’s taken the company from start-up to Industry Leader offering the largest fleet of construction cranes in Australia. ACH launched a new type of crane previously unheard of in the Australian market: electric tower cranes. The company's infrastructure and associated services now comprise a fleet of trucks and trailers, a crane-rigging team, mobile crane technicians, a fleet of service vehicles, and an extensive range of crane spare parts.

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