What are Crawler Cranes?

30 January 2019

Crawler cranes move on a cleverly designed undercarriage. Like an armoured tank, they roll along on a twin set of high-traction tracks. The two continuous treads, one on either side of a mobile crane, feature rubberized grips and/or armoured plates. They make it possible for heavy, sometimes unbalanced loads, to cross all kinds of rough terrain. Then, when the heavy equipment stops, it instantly becomes stable and ready to work.

Packed With Mobility Benefits

On viewing a crawler crane in motion, it’s just gotten underway. It’s crossing a rough area of a construction site while a similarly equipped counterpart falls behind. Of benefit, the crawler operator didn’t need to pack the rigging away, nor did he need to fold away a four-pack of stability-improving outriggers. Because of the wide-area crawler tracks on its undercarriage, the vehicle is staying stable, even when it’s in motion. In fact, and this happens only when approved by a governing site authority, sometimes a crawler-equipped crane can move across open ground while carrying a heavy load. Stable by design, crawler cranes make short work of the toughest, most chassis destabilizing lifting operations. Their twin tracks simply ground the vehicle and keep everything safely balanced.

Crawler Cranes Scale the Heights

Imagine a track-equipped crane that can lift 100 ton loads. It angles its boom and cab on a rotating bed turntable. Meanwhile, the tracks lock in place and keep the vehicle frame steady. A Terex HC 100 operates in this manner, with its twin crawler shoes delivering alloy strengthened stability. Alternatively, the scale can jump higher. A Manitowoc 21000, for example, can shift loads that top out at close to 1000 tons. That’s heavy lifting. It does so by using a uniquely equipped set of crawlers. Instead of a pair of tracks, the Manitowoc employs 4 different double-width crawler shoes, which can find purchase under any conditions, except those that are overly uneven. Of course, these two examples mark two ends of a wide spectrum. Typically, a two crawler shoe configuration gets the job done right every time.

Happily, perhaps while safely sitting perched on a scaffolding tower, our observer has come to a conclusion. Crawler cranes are composites, in that they embrace a best of both worlds approach to mobile lifting. As stable as any fixed hoist, they’re incredibly steady. But, when push comes to shove, mobile crawler cranes can make their way across rough ground, even while carrying a load. Best of all, there’s no lengthy packing and unpacking, rigging and unrigging to be done. Once the tracks, chassis and boom get moving, they do so without much prep work at all.

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