Construction cranes are one of the most important components of any large construction project. But how much do you know about these towering pieces of machinery? From the materials they’re made from to the intricate process in which they’re operated, we’ll be looking at six facts about them that you may not have known.
1. Cranes are Named After the Bird with the Most Wings
The construction crane is named after the bird with the highest number of wings in the animal world, the Albatross. The Albatross was a German naval vessel specially commissioned to build bridges and other large project foundations, hence the name. This knowledge may come in handy when naming your next pet albatross!
2. Cranes were Invented in Ancient Greece
The first documented crane was invented by the ancient Greeks and was used to lift heavy loads of wood and stones in the construction of buildings. Unfortunately, not much else is known because most of them were destroyed in such projects. However, we know that they were powered by human and animal labor and remained relatively unchanged for over a thousand years. It is one of the reasons why it’s still difficult to find good construction crane technicians today!
3. Jibs Changed the Game
The earliest construction cranes had a fixed jib and were powered by animals. The first known improvement was the adjustable jib, used in China and Japan around the year 1000. It allowed for more freedom of movement when transporting heavy materials and was especially useful in ports where loads needed to be transported from one ship to another. With the invention of larger engines, cranes grew even larger as well.
4. From Wood to Steel
In the 13th century, cranes were made out of wood, only to be replaced in the 16th century by cranes made from iron and steel. While wood was cheap and plentiful, it was also weak and brittle. An addition to the crane’s beam, or spar, strengthened the crane and allowed for increased lifting heights. This extra weight eventually caused reduced working hours for the workers on buildings under construction.
5. The First Powered Cranes Were Powered by Steam
Powered cranes became more important in the 19th century when they were used to lift heavier loads. The first construction crane to come along was powered by steam and invented in 1868. It was created by a Scottish boat builder named James Watt and consisted of two parallel beams from which one would be lifted, a mechanism for turning the boom, and a heavyweight used as a counterweight.
6. Cranes Build Themselves
The construction crane has a completely automatic operation with no human intervention. It uses an elaborate system of mechanical and hydraulic devices to move the boom and hook and control cabling. They’re operated by a dew system, which is liquid or gas-filled hoses controlled by a valve system. This valve opens and vents the liquid or gas into a frame attached to the hook for the crane to move.
There is a lot more to construction cranes than meets the eye. They have been around for ages and have changed the construction landscape as we know it. However, their size and usefulness have not kept pace with technology, and they can’t service many modern construction sites.