Crane Glossary for 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

The world of cranes can be overwhelming with its numerous terminologies and technical jargon. Our comprehensive crane glossary guide can help you navigate through the details of the material handling industry. Whether you’re looking to buy a crane or searching for information on cranes, understanding the language of cranes is crucial for effective communication and safe operations. So, let’s dive in and explore the essential terms related to cranes in 2023.

Overhead crane: A type of crane that runs on rails and is utilized to lift and move bulky objects within a building or factory.

Mobile crane: A type of crane that can be transported to various job locations and is mounted on a wheeled chassis or truck.

Tower crane: A type of crane that is attached to a tall vertical structure and is employed in high-rise construction projects.

Crawler crane: A type of crane that operates on a set of tracks, similar to a tank, and is used for heavy lifting tasks on rough terrain or at construction sites.

C.M.A.A: The Crane Manufacturers Association of America, or C.M.A.A., is an organisation that advocates for the interests of American crane producers, sellers, and related businesses. Through research, instruction, and advocacy, the C.M.A.A. aims to create and maintain quality and performance standards for electric overhead cranes.  They have been in operation since 1927 and are regarded as a leading expert on crane standards throughout the world.

Boom: The boom is a vital component of cranes that enables them to lift and move heavy objects. Different types of cranes have specific boom designs to suit their purpose. For clearance, for gantry travel, gantry cranes have a boom that extends the trolley runway and may be raised or lowered. The cargo can be hoisted and lowered at a place other than exactly beneath the hoist, drum, or trolley with an overhead crane because it has a horizontal part mounted on the trolley.

Additionally, a jib boom is a horizontal cantilever track used to support the trolley. The boom design plays a crucial role in determining a crane’s lifting capacity and reaches, making it an essential element to consider when selecting the appropriate crane for a specific task.

Boom Angle: It is the angle at which the boom is positioned.  The stability and lifting capabilities of the crane are impacted by this. The boom angle is usually measured in degrees and can be adjusted by the operator to lift and lower loads at different heights and angles.

Boom Length: Boom length refers to the distance between the crane’s base and the tip of the boom, determining the crane’s reach. The longer the boom, the greater the lifting capacity and reach, but also the greater the stress on the crane’s structure.

Jib: A crane’s jib is a horizontal support for the trolley that extends from the main arm or boom. It can be either fixed or articulated, with longer jibs being able to travel further. Its main purpose is to extend the crane’s height and reach so that it may lift objects higher and over barriers. The crane’s overall lifting capacity and manoeuvrability are greatly influenced by the jib’s articulation, which provides more flexibility for moving cargo around obstructions.

Counterweight: It is the weight that is attached to the back of a crane to balance the weight of the load being lifted and prevent the crane from tipping over. It is typically attached with a stick and automatically balances the weight of the lifted load, helping to maintain a stable weight distribution.

The counterweight plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and stability of the crane during lifting operations. By providing an opposing force to the weight of the load, it helps to keep the crane balanced and prevent accidents.

Trolley: A trolley in a crane is a device that travels horizontally along the gantry or bridge of the crane. Typically, it aids in the lifting and lowering of the load as well as the back-and-forth movement of the weight along the crane’s length. The trolley is usually powered by an electric motor or other means, and a track or rail system guides it. It can be controlled by the crane operator, who uses various controls to move the trolley and the load in different directions.

Lift: The term “lift” refers to the maximum vertical distance that the load hook can travel, including the total allowable hook movement between its upper limit of travel and its position when at the lower limit of travel. The lift of a crane is its ability to lift a load to its maximum height, considering factors such as the crane’s lifting capacity, boom length, and angle.

Slings: Slings are a vital support system for cranes, as they connect the load to the material handling equipment. They provide the necessary support for the hook to hold heavy loads and are available in a range of materials including wire rope, chain rope, and synthetic materials. The choice of sling material depends on several factors, such as the weight and size of the load, the conditions of the job site, and the required level of flexibility and durability.

Outrigger: It is a leg that extends from the side of a crane to provide additional stability when lifting heavy loads. It acts as a support system to prevent the crane from tipping over and ensures safe and efficient operation. When planning to install or hire a crane, it is essential to consider the space required for the outriggers.

Capacity: When it comes to cranes, understanding their capacity is essential for safe and efficient operation. The term “capacity” refers to the maximum weight that a crane can lift at a given radius.

This maximum rated load, typically measured in tons, is a critical factor in determining the crane’s suitability for a particular job. Exceeding a crane’s rated capacity can lead to equipment failure, accidents, and injuries, making it crucial to the manufacturer’s specified limits.  

Hoist: A hoist in a crane is used for lifting and lowering freely suspended loads. It is an apparatus that exerts a force to move the load.

Headroom: The vertical space between the load point of the hook at its highest position and the top of the crane is referred to as “headroom” in crane operation.

Bridge: The term “bridge” refers to the part of the crane that spans the gap or area where the load will be moved. It is usually mounted on top of the runway beams, and it moves along the length of the crane system. The bridge of the crane supports the trolley and hoist, which move along the length of the bridge to position the load.

Bridge Rail: The rail on which the trolley travels are called the bridge rail and is supported by the bridge girders.

Runway: The runway consists of two parallel rails that are secured to the runway beams and provide the path for the crane to travel along. The runway is typically located on the floor or on elevated support columns and is designed to withstand the weight of the crane and the loads it carries.

End Approach: The end approach is the shortest distance between the outer edges of the crane and the centreline of the hook when measured parallel to the runway.

End Truck: A crane’s end truck is responsible for supporting the bridge girders and facilitating the crane’s movement along the runway.

End Tie: In crane operation, the end tie is a component that ensures the bridge girders remain perpendicular to the crane’s direction of travel.

Hook Approach: The minimum distance between the centre of the hook and the runway rail, measured horizontally.

Regenerative Braking: An energy-efficient method of controlling speed that involves converting the kinetic energy of the moving load into electrical energy, which is then fed back into the power system.

Load chart: A graphical representation that specifies the safe working load limits of a crane at various radii from the centre of rotation.

Operator’s Cabin: The area of a crane where the operator is stationed, is typically equipped with control devices and provides an unobstructed view of the working area.

 Control Pendant: A handheld device attached to the hoist and used to control the movement of a crane or hoist.

Wrapping Lines:

The domain of cranes has its own language, and we hope that our comprehensive guide to the most common terminologies and technical phrases used in the crane industry has helped you gain a better understanding of this important field.

Whether you are a crane operator, a construction worker, a project manager, or simply someone interested in the world of material handling, we hope that this guide has been a valuable resource for you. You can even visit our website or write us at for information on various types of cranes offered by us and related offerings.