7 Primary Types of Cranes in Construction

red and gray tower crane with blue sky background

Among the variety of heavy machinery that is utilized in construction, there are specific types of cranes designed to accommodate different jobs and terrains. These cranes all accomplish efficient lifting, relocating and lowering of materials with the use of pulleys, hoists and cables.

By strategically using the laws of physics, some cranes allow construction workers to move more than 18 metric tons of materials! This capacity and versatility are of course dependent on the type of crane, its general load capacity and the position of the load in relation to the center of the crane’s rotation. And if you’ve been in the crane rigging equipment business for as long as we have here at John Sakach, you’ll get expert knowledge on the primary types of cranes and their respective strengths.

What are the different types of cranes?

Cranes have been official tools used as far back as 700 BC, and while they have maintained their general purpose and mechanics, these cranes have come a long way in versatility and capability. There are many different cranes, and the following are the primary types that may be used on a construction site.

Telescopic Crane

The telescopic crane is a more general, overarching type that is characterized by its extendable or “telescoping” jib or arm. This extendable and retractable arm lends the crane superior versatility and reach for a wide scope of projects. These cranes are normally used for everyday hauling but can also be seen in shipping ports used to unload and load cargo.

Mobile Cranes

A mobile crane is mainly characterized by the crane’s ability to be moved from one place to another. This mobility is accomplished by mounting to a crawler, truck or other rubber-tired vehicles. Since the equipment needs to be compact, these cranes are typically telescoping and fixed onto all-terrain vehicles to reach different construction sites.

Truck Mounted Crane

Similar to mobile cranes, truck-mounted cranes are highlighted by their mobility. However, these cranes are specifically installed onto trucks. An everyday example of a truck-mounted crane would be tow trucks. This type of crane is often used to transport other vehicles or relocate construction materials and has a wide range of load capacity from 2 to over 15 tons.

Rough Terrain Crane

This type of crane is typically mounted onto a vehicle with rubber tires designed specifically for off-road construction sites with more difficult terrain. A rough terrain crane or RTC can be considered both a type of mobile crane and a truck hydraulic crane.

Tower Crane

The tower crane is probably one of the most iconic and recognizable due to its high use in larger city construction sites and even major motion pictures. This type of crane is designed for skyscraper construction work and is characterized by a tall vertical tower and an outstretched jib. Unlike other cranes, a tower crane does not have as much free-range motion in order to ensure greater stability and structural integrity while moving heavy materials 265 feet in the air. However, a tower crane does maintain height and rotation capabilities.

Overhead Crane

An overhead crane is usually found in manufacturing or assembly plants. This type of crane is composed of a hoisting mechanism attached to an overhead bridge that travels up and down a set of fixed tracks. This type of crane often referred to as a “bridge crane” is designed to bring heavy materials from one side of a building or room to another.

Loader Crane

A loader crane, much like its name suggests, is created to unload and load materials from vehicles such as trucks on a construction site. These cranes are noted to be easier to use than most other types and are perfect for construction sites with restricted movement. Additional assets can be used along with a loader crane to expand its usefulness to a wide variety of other applications as well.


These impressive pieces of heavy equipment are some of the most used types of cranes in the construction industry. Each crane has its own strengths and roles on a construction site to get the job done efficiently, safely and effectively. With these cranes, additional rigging equipment can be used to expand upon their innate capabilities. For more information on how you can expand upon the strengths of different types of cranes for your next construction project, contact us today.