One of the biggest expenses any construction firm will have is its roster of heavy equipment. Forklifts, loaders, bulldozers, and concrete mixers are just a few examples of the type of heavy construction equipment that require significant investment.
But no other construction equipment towers over the competition in terms of comparative costs like a crane.
Understanding crane costs
Trying to determine how much it costs to own and operate a crane is a lot like trying to determine how much a house costs. There is no simple answer. Numerous factors must be first taken into consideration.
Not only do you have to decide what crane you want, but you also have to first confirm that it can work on your construction site. Certain cranes, like tower cranes, will be inefficient on small residential sites. Likewise, if height capacity is a concern, a mobile crane may not be up to the task.
The budget also becomes a concern. The associated costs of operating a crane are decided on whether or not you hire or buy a crane. Understandably, owning a crane is a more significant expense than the option of crane hire.
Transport, crane operation, maintenance, storage, and repair costs are also important factors in determining the true cost of using a crane.
The right crane for the right job
Choosing the correct crane for your business needs ensures that you stay within budget and your operation is safe and managed effectively.
Fortunately, for construction firms in the market for a crane, the crane market is diverse. There is a whole range of cranes and variations available to firms to choose from. Each crane type has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Below, we look at the five most common crane types you should consider for your next construction project.
1. Tower cranes
When people think of cranes, the image of a tower crane usually comes to mind. Tower cranes are commonly used in construction projects that require outstanding vertical reach and load capacity.
This type of fixed crane is mostly found in high rise construction projects.
2. Mobile cranes
By definition, mobile cranes are crane types that are truck-mounted, though this definition will differ according to the variation of mobile crane type. Besides truck-mounted, mobile cranes can also be track-mounted, gantry-based, or wheel-based.
They are best used for projects that require flexibility, such as concurring construction sites.
3. Rough terrain cranes
A rough terrain crane is a specialized crane type that’s commonly used for off-road applications. The crane is truck-mounted to an undercarriage designed with rubber wheels to manage uneven and rough terrains. Truck-mounted cranes are often equipped with outriggers, providing increased stability.
Rough terrain cranes are often deployed in remote and tough construction sites with uneven ground, obstacles, and steep grades.
4. Crawler cranes
This type of crane gets its name from its undercarriage, which is equipped with tracks called “crawlers.” Crawler cranes are similar to rough terrain cranes in that they can maneuver off-road site conditions. Its crawlers enable it to operate on soft surfaces.
Crawler cranes are called in when stability and load capacity are concerns for rough terrain cranes.
5. Self-erecting cranes
Self-erecting cranes are versatile static-type cranes that can be rapidly deployed and are operational in less than one day. Their name is based on the fact that they’re entirely autonomous and can be operated by remote control.
Self-erecting cranes are best suited for sites that require a crane for short duration and frequent to infrequent operations. This includes residential development sites and private house builds.
Should you hire or buy a crane for your next project?
Cranes are a considerable investment for any construction firm. As such, the decision to buy or use a crane hire company deserves careful consideration. The decision to buy or rent crane equipment is entirely dependent on your firm’s current financial situation.
An established construction firm with plenty of projects in the works and enough capital may benefit from buying a crane. Even then, established firms may find that crane hire services make good economic sense.
The affordability of crane hire allows them to economically scale other aspects of their business to meet growing customer demands.
Startups and smaller firms with limited capital will find that crane hire services offer an affordable route to crane ownership.
Other factors worth considering when deciding whether to buy or rent crane equipment include:
Length of the project
Equipment availability and usage
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a crane type for your next project. What’s important is ensuring your selected equipment allows your project to be delivered on budget and in a safe and timely manner.
Performing due diligence enables you to make the right decision when it comes to choosing the right crane for your next construction project.
Hermann Buchberger is the Founder and CEO of Active Crane Hire (ACH). He’s taken the company from start-up to Industry Leader offering the largest fleet of construction cranes in Australia. ACH launched a new type of crane previously unheard of in the Australian market: electric tower cranes. The company's infrastructure and associated services now comprise a fleet of trucks and trailers, a crane-rigging team, mobile crane technicians, a fleet of service vehicles, and an extensive range of crane spare parts.