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A Guide to Different Types of Overhead Cranes

The industrial world thrives on movement. From raw materials to finished products, efficient and safe transportation of heavy objects is crucial. Overhead cranes are the workhorses of this internal logistics, silently gliding across ceilings, hoisting and maneuvering tons of weight with remarkable precision. But with so many varieties available at, choosing the right overhead crane can feel overwhelming.

This blog post aims to be your guide, delving into the different types of overhead cranes and their specific uses. By understanding their strengths and limitations, you’ll be well-equipped to select the perfect crane for your needs.

Bridge Cranes

Bridge cranes are the most recognizable type of overhead crane. Picture a horizontal beam, the bridge, spanning across your facility, supported by elevated runways.  A hoist, the lifting mechanism, travels along the bridge, allowing for precise control over horizontal movement. Bridge cranes come in two main configurations:

  • Single-girder cranes:  Ideal for lighter loads (up to 20 tons), these cranes utilize a single beam for the bridge, making them cost-effective and well-suited for lower ceiling applications.
  • Double-girder cranes:  Designed for heavier lifting capacities (exceeding 20 tons), these cranes feature two beams for the bridge, offering superior rigidity and stability.

Top-running vs. Under-running cranes:  This distinction refers to the placement of the bridge in relation to the runway. Top-running cranes travel on top of the runway beams, offering higher lifting capacities and better hook clearance. Under-running cranes, as the name suggests, run along the underside of the runway, ideal for situations with limited headroom.

Gantry Cranes

Imagine a bridge crane without the confining walls of a building. That’s the essence of a gantry crane. This self-supporting structure features elevated legs that straddle an open area, allowing for lifting and maneuvering outdoors or in open-bay facilities. Gantry cranes are commonly used in shipyards, construction sites, and lumberyards.

Jib Cranes

Jib cranes offer a more localized lifting solution. Imagine a beam extending horizontally from a wall or column, with a hoist traveling along its length. This creates a rotating arm that can efficiently move Material Handling Equipments within a designated work area. Jib cranes are perfect for workstations, assembly lines, and engine repair shops.

Workstation Cranes

Workstation cranes are essentially miniaturized bridge cranes designed for smaller work areas. They often utilize lightweight aluminum structures and can be suspended from the ceiling or mounted on a freestanding support. Workstation cranes provide exceptional maneuverability within a confined space, ideal for machine shops, laboratories, and production lines.

Monorail Systems

Monorail systems are the most basic form of overhead lifting. They consist of a single beam track along which a hoist travels. While not as versatile as bridge cranes, monorails offer a cost-effective solution for repetitive lifting tasks along a linear path. They are commonly used in assembly lines, plating facilities, and paint booths.

Choosing the Right Crane: Considerations

Selecting the perfect overhead crane requires careful consideration of several factors:

  • Lifting capacity: This is paramount. Determine the maximum weight you’ll need to lift.
  • Work area: Consider the crane’s footprint, including bridge span and hook clearance.
  • Frequency of use: Will the crane be used constantly (process) or occasionally (modular)?
  • Facility limitations: Headroom restrictions might favor under-running cranes or jib cranes.
  • Budget: Single-girder cranes and monorails are generally more cost-effective.


Overhead cranes are the invisible workhorses of countless industries. By understanding the different types and their applications, you can make an informed decision that optimizes your lifting needs, improves efficiency, and ensures workplace safety. Remember, consulting with a qualified crane specialist is crucial to ensure you get the right crane for the job. With the right overhead crane in place, you can conquer the ceiling and elevate your productivity to new heights.