how overhead cranes work

Overhead cranes comprise a vital part of the industrial work environment. An overhead crane is a large piece of machinery specially equipped to enable industrial workers to safely lift and relocate heavy material through a series of precise movements as controlled by a trained crane operator. This article will acquaint you with how overhead cranes work and how they can improve your industrial workplace applications.

In order to visualize how overhead cranes work, it’s important to have a basic understanding of crane components. Here’s a rundown of the most integral components and their functions.


Key crane components and how they interact


The Hook

The hook is used for attaching your load to the crane where it can be raised and lowered as necessary for relocation of the load. It connects to the hoist.

The Hoist

Utilizing chain or wire rope, the hoist moves the hook in any desired direction. While hoists are typically powered with electricity or compressed air, they can also be powered by hand. The hoist connects to the bottom of the bridge.

The Bridge

As the main structural component of the crane, the bridge consists of a load-bearing beam that spans the building and connects the runways. The rolled steel or steel box design of the bridge may be either a double-girder or single-girder design. The bridge also mobilizes the hoist back and forth with the trolley.

The Trolley

The trolley is the component that moves the hoist from side to side across the bridge to precisely position the hook before gathering or lowering a load. Trolley configuration can be either top running or under running.

The Runway Beams

The runway beams are important because they enable your bridge crane to move around the bays with ease. There are typically two runway beams per overhead crane.

The End Trucks

The end trucks include a series of wheels that physically propel the bridge across the runway on a rail. Depending on the capacity of the crane, end trucks may have a two-wheel, four-wheel or eight-wheel design.

The Control Panel

The control panel is usually mounted on the hoist or crane and sends important signals to the end trucks to control movement via either a push-button or radio-style controller, enabling the operator to control the crane either from the floor or from the safety of a cab.

The Power House/Electrification

The “power house” consists of a conductive bar system that generates power and brings it from the building across the bridge to the crane.


Why are overhead cranes so important?

Now that you’re familiar with the basic working components of overhead crane systems, let’s take a look at how overhead cranes can enhance your industrial applications.


The primary advantage of incorporating overhead crane technology into your industrial work environment is that it renders job sites much safer. Overhead cranes can be used to handle and relocate a variety of dangerous materials in hazardous and extreme environments in order to prevent bodily injury to industrial workers who would otherwise be subjected to harsh and potentially unsafe working conditions. They also literally lighten the load of workers, by saving their backs from debilitating over-lifting and overuse injuries. Last but not least, overhead cranes have the capacity to safely lift loads that would not be humanly possible to lift even by a large group of strong workers.

Efficiency and Productivity

Accomplish at least twice as much in half the time by utilizing an overhead crane on your job site. Many experts would deem that a very conservative estimate. Due to the high efficiency of overhead cranes, it is estimated that an overhead crane can out-perform a group of workers at a rate of three to one, thereby exponentially increasing productivity when compared to relying on tow motors or a group of workers to move loads. As you can see, overhead cranes will help to streamline your industrial workplace processes by automating the lifting and unloading of nearly any material and ultimately increase productivity while sparing your workers from heavy, unsafe loads.