What Makes A Crane Strong?

There are always cranes busy with construction near my downtown office. I can watch them operate for hours, and I am still amazed at how much weight they can lift. How do they do it, and what makes a crane so strong?

Cranes get their strength from the High-Strength Low-Alloy steel used to manufacture them. All the components of a crane work together to give the lifting power needed to lift heavy loads. These components get their strength from the steel they are constructed from.

Read on to discover what gives a crane its lifting strength, the different components of a crane, and find out how much the strongest cranes in the world can lift.

What Give A Crane Its Strength

A crane is a lifting machine that uses other devices or simple machines to give it a mechanical advantage in moving large loads. Many factors give a crane its lifting capacity, so if one component needs to be singled out for its strength, it would be steel.

Cranes have been assisting humans with lifting for more than 2500 years. The first crane was invented in Mesopotamia in 3000BC and was used to raise large sums of water for irrigation. It was named Shadouf. Cranes have only become stronger over time. With the discovery of steel, its lifting capacity was lifted more than tenfold.

What Steel Is Used To Manufacture Cranes

Steel is an alloy of iron with a small amount of less than 2% carbon added to it. This type of steel is called Carbon Steel and is used on structures that do not require a very high strength rating. When it comes to the steel that is used for manufacturing heavy lifting cranes, High-Strength, Low-Alloy (HSLA) steel is used.

HSLA Steel contains much less carbon than carbon steel. HSLA steel has about 0.05% carbon and a few other elements added to it. These elements include Vanadium, Nickel, Chromium, Titanium, and Niobium. Adding these elements into HSLA steel improves its strength, makes it highly resistant to atmospheric corrosion, and much easier to weld.

The Steel Components That Give A Crane Its Strength

A Crane has many steel components that work together to give it strength. These are the boom, jib, Rotex gear, outriggers, reinforced steel cable, and the hook.

The Boom Of The Crane

The boom is the most distinguishable part of a crane. The boom is either a telescopic or fixed arm that is used to lift and position loads. There are many different types of booms, each with its own role and lifting ability.

The Jib Of The Crane

The jib of a crane is not always used and can be stowed away when it is not needed. The jib is a steel trellis-type arm that is attached to the end of the boom. The trellis structure is used to keep weight to a minimum while retaining strength. The jib’s primary purpose is to keep any material from hitting the crane structure.

The Rotex Gear On A Revolving Crane

The Rotex gear is the hinge that enables the crane to rotate left or right. The Rotex gear must be strong as it must take the entire load weight, boom weight, and the weight of the cables while rotating.

The Outrigger On A Mobile Crane

The outriggers are one of the most critical pieces of equipment when it comes to crane safety. They extend out from the crane’s chassis and supply additional support during lifting operations. The outriggers distribute the total weight evenly over a designated safe area.

The Reinforced Steel Cable On A Crane

The reinforced steel cables are what allow the crane to hoist heavy loads. The steel cables run through an array of pulleys and arms to the lifting gear.

The Hook Of The Crane

The hook is the main way loads are attached to the steel cable; thus, it must be strong. Crane lifting hooks are made from steel that has been heat treated to increase its strength. 

What Are The Strongest Cranes In The World

Lifting some of the largest and heaviest objects in the world will require using a large, strong, and powerful crane. Here are the five strongest cranes in the world.

The Liebherr 11200-9.1 Mobile Crane

The Liebherr 11200-9.1 mobile crane has the longest telescopic boom for a mobile crane. The boom can extend up to 300 feet and can accommodate a jib to extend the boom up to 412 feet. The all-terrain mobile crane is capable of lifting a maximum weight of 1200 metric tons.

The Sleipnir Semi-Submersible Crane Vessel

The Sleipnir Semi-Submersible Crane Vessel is named after the eight-legged horse ridden by the Norse mythology god Odin. The Sleipnir resembles the mystical horse due to the eight support columns of the SSCV. The SSCV consists of a duel crane with a length of 472 feet. When both cranes work in tandem, they have a lifting capacity of 22,000 metric tons. 

The Taisun Gantry Crane

The Taisun Gantry Crane stands 436 feet tall and can lift large objects up to 263 feet high. Taisun has a lifting capacity of 20,000 metric tons and currently holds three records for the heaviest lifts of all time. The records are for 14,000 metric tons, 17 100 metric tons, and 20 133 metric tons.

The Kockums Gantry Crane

The Kockums or Tears of Malmo Crane stands a massive 452 feet high and runs on tracks with a gauge of 571 feet. Kockums has a lifting capacity of 1 500 metric tons and is situated in the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea.

The Liebherr LR 13000 Crawler Crane

The Liebherr LR 13000 crane has a hoisting height of 787 feet and a lifting capacity of 3,000 metric tons. The LR 3000 is the world’s most powerful conventionally designed crawler crane.


A crane consists of many components that work together to supply the strength to lift heavy loads. The parts of a crane are made from HSLA steel. This steel is what makes a crane strong. The steel is used to manufacture the crane’s boom, jib, cables, Rotex gear, and vital outriggers.

The first evidence of humans using a crane to lift heavy loads was over 2500 years ago. With the invention of steel, massive strong cranes were built to lift extreme weights, with the record currently standing at 20,133 metric tons.


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