Significant Changes in Crawler Crane Technology

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excavator machine at an excavation areaCrawler cranes have seen many adjustments and remodeling to become the powerful lifting units we know today. From its 100-ton lifting capacity in 1947, it can now hoist more than 3000 tons of load.

While crawler cranes have become one of the most important machines in the construction sector, their operating and owning overheads can be quite costly. Still, they are the preferred choice especially for jobs that require lifting certain types of loads. Lampson, a trusted crawler crane company in Houston, shares a brief history of this reliable machine.

Early Design

In 1911, the Bucyrus Company designed and manufactured the first crawler crane. A gasoline engine powered the machine, which was known as the Type 14. It features a 4.27-meter diameter swing ring and an 18.3-meter lattice boom.

The standard 47-ton crawler crane has then improved significantly in the coming years, transitioning from electric and steam engines to diesel and gasoline. The timber beams have also been replaced by extended steel lattice booms that can outspread up to hundreds of meters, with a lifting capacity reaching up to 3,600 tons.

Changes in Ergonomics

The most significant change to the first deign of crawler cranes is ergonomics. To operate a unit in the early 1920s, you would have to be a steam or mechanical engineer. The job was physically taxing, requiring more than 10 hours every day, without proper protection, and under harsh weather conditions.

The first concept of gasoline-powered, heavy-duty lifting cranes mounted on a tracked movable platform was introduced in 1914. Several years later, the initial excavator with diesel engine debuted. In the late 1960s, Jim Montgomery and Archer Brown invented the counterweight, a feature that is still used in modern crawler cranes.

Thanks to the adjustments made since crawler cranes first came out, the construction industry can benefit immensely from the incredible power of these machines. They have come a long way since the 1910s, and engineers continue to look for ways to improve the system.