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Tower cranes

Tower Cranes, history and description

Tower cranes are a widespread type of cranes which belongs to the biggest construction machinery units. It's used to move materials horizontally and vertically. It has been named after it was considered a bit like the bird "Crane" (due to its long neck and beak). It is the same in some other langages like French (Grue) or German (Kran).

The history of tower cranes dates back to 1908 when the first tower crane designed for construction works was built in Julius Wolff's factory. The machine quickly gained popularity and Wolff in short time had sold 10.000 units. Tall tower cranes with an operator cabin on the top were perfectly adapted to work on narrow streets in European cities of that time.

Tower cranes are used on construction sites, for ware loading and unloading in harbours and on railway stations. Thanks to the slewing unit these cranes work in three dimensions.

Tower cranes

Tower cranes

Nowadays, Tower Cranes around the world

The biggest tower crane than functions is a Liebherr 4000HC 80. It's lifting height (hook height; the vertical distance between the ground and the hook) is 110 m (361 ft), span (horizontal distance between the crane pivot and the hook) – 100 m (328 ft), lifting capacity – 80 t.
A typical tower crane consists of a mast which is usually a steel truss tower, a jib with counterweight and an operators cab. The common types of tower cranes are:

- a hammerhead crane ; a crane with a long horizontal jib whose one end extends over the construction site and the other end carries a counterweight; on the longer end there is a trolley with lifting cable, moving along the jib; the cab is situated on the top; hammerhead cranes are usually assembled and disassembled on the worksite by another crane (usually a mobile crane) unless they are self-lifting cranes that can insert and remove sections of their masts by themselves;

- a self-erecting crane ; a crane that doesn't need any other crane to assemble and does it completely on its own; the crane is remote-controlled from a cab on the ground; some self-erecting cranes have a telescopic tower which allows to change the height easily;

- a luffing jib crane ; a crane with movable jib without trolley that can be raised or lowered, designed especially for works in urban spaces; in other conditions hammerhead cranes are preferred as less expensive machines.
Significant manufacturers of tower cranes and heavy equipment in general are Comansa, Comedil, FM Gru, Jaso, Liebherr, Peiner, Potain, Raimondi, Saez and Terex.