Tower crane questions and answers

Looking across the skylines of our cities from a distance, we see a horizon of rooftops and steeples, and above that, many impressive, towering skyscrapers. 

Yet look more closely as between these skyscrapers you’ll see dotted all over myriad outlines of the frames of some mysterious machines that play a crucial role in the development of modern infrastructure – Tower Cranes. 

Many of us don’t notice these iconic structures rising high above us as we hurry about our daily lives, but in this blog, we have all the tower crane questions and answers that will have you stopping in your tracks the next time you walk past a construction site, this article aims to answer some common questions related to tower cranes, shedding light on their significance, functionality, and safety.

What exactly is a tower crane then?

A tower crane (often called a city tower crane) is a tall, fixed structure composed of a vertical tower, a horizontal jib (or boom), a counter-jib, a counter-weight and a cabin.

Used in the construction industry, its towering height and strength allow it to lift heavy loads used in building projects such as concrete, steel, and large tools transporting them horizontally with precision.

Tower cranes literally ease the load on constructors and significantly impact the efficiency and timeline of construction projects.

Who is in control?

Do not panic – this is not a case of machines taking over, at least not yet!

Tower cranes are handled by a tower crane operator who works high up in the cabin at the top of the tower. The crane’s vertical tower provides stability, while the jib, attached to a trolley, carries the load which is controlled by the operator through complex mechanical, electrical and hydraulic systems.

It is a difficult job for which operators undergo rigorous training to learn to handle the crane safely and effectively and how to respond to emergency situations. 

How difficult is it to be a tower crane operator?

Tower crane operators face various challenges during their daily tasks; operating in unpredictable weather conditions, coordinating with other construction activities, and dealing with limited visibility. 

It’s not quite a Rapunzel scenario, however, tower crane operators do work long, isolated hours and are encouraged to spend them in their cabin as much as possible being responsible for helping keep all the jobs on the construction site progressing according to schedule. Many operators take their lunch up the ladder, typically a 5-20 minute climb, and settle for the day, which may cause you to wonder, “How do they survive without a toilet?!” 

Do tower cranes have toilets?

Well, the cabin is a small space designed for the primary purpose of controlling the crane during construction activities so, no – tower cranes do not have toilets built into them. Portable toilets are generally located nearby for the convenience of construction workers, including crane operators. 

Despite the inconvenience of the long climb down for the facilities, there are some perks to the job – the operators do get to see the most amazing views, yet just thinking of being up at such a height is enough to make some of us dizzy and fearful of falling, wondering if they are safe.

Why don’t tower cranes fall over?

Whether we are up high in the cabin or working on the construction site below, the thought of a falling crane is terrifying!

So why don’t tower cranes fall over? To keep everyone safe, when a heavy load is lifted its weight is taken into account and a counterweight is used on the counter-jib to balance out the load thereby preventing the crane from tipping over.

Another answer as to why these cranes don’t topple is simply ‘lights!’

Why do cranes have lights?

One of the reasons tower cranes have lights is to prevent accidents such as aircraft flying into them and knocking them over. The lights show clearly the position of the crane from all directions so that any pilot would be aware of it.

Lights are also positioned around sections of the crane that are potentially hazardous such as crane hooks and forklifts. Safety is a top priority in the construction industry and tower crane operations are no exception as they undergo regular inspections, routine maintenance and adherence to load capacity limits. So now we know what keeps cranes from falling, let’s talk about how they are put up in the first place.

How are tower cranes assembled and dismantled?

This is one of those mind-boggling questions – ‘How do you construct the tool that you need to help you in construction?’ The answer is you use the tool itself! Tower cranes are typically assembled in sections, with each section being lifted into place by the crane itself with careful planning and execution. Dismantling simply follows a similar process in reverse. 

Mystery solved?

Tower cranes stand as symbols of progress in the construction industry, shaping skylines and facilitating the creation of impressive structures. Understanding the mysteries of these towering machines provides insights into their importance, operation and the challenges faced by those who operate them. If, like me, you have become quite fascinated by these structures, whether you’re a construction professional or just curious about these impressive machines, there are many more answers to your questions in our news section. 
Looking to hire a crane for a project?  Browse through our cranes for hire here, we have various types of tower cranes; mobile tower cranes, self-erecting tower cranes, saddle jib tower cranes and luffing jib tower cranes. If you would like some professional advice contact us directly and we will help you with your query.

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