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  • Bret Lussow

Jib Crane or Bridge Crane?

We often get the question, “should I put in a jib crane or a bridge crane for my application”? The answer is not that simple. Both solutions have advantages over each other, but generally the answer is right before your eyes.

Certainly a jib crane costs less, right? Not necessarily. Often times, jib cranes require a foundation or footing that requires excavating the floor and pouring new concrete, this is costly and time consuming. Conversely, a bridge crane/runway structure can often be self supporting without the need for these expensive footings or foundations.

Jib cranes are only for one area or one person, right? Not necessarily. A well placed jib crane can often be placed to reach multiple work cells or machines allowing for one crane to perform multiple tasks for various lifting needs.

Bridge cranes give me better hook height, right? Not necessarily. Both systems can have the beam be the highest obstruction of the crane. True, bridge cranes offer a little more flexibility to improve lifting height (coped beams, double girder, nested trolleys, etc.) but for standard systems, they are equal.

Bridge cranes are always motorized and jib cranes are always manual, right? Not necessarily. Both systems can be manual (push/pull) or motorized. Often, the capacity and length of travel is the component that dictates whether a system is manual or motorized. The nice thing about either of these cranes, is that they can be retrofitted to powered (motorized) in the future if the manual option becomes too cumbersome.

So, what is the answer? There really is no perfect answer. Sometimes the answer lies in hook travel/hook coverage and floor space. The bridge crane, without argument gives you the best hook coverage. A user can basically cover almost corner to corner of a room or work area whereas the jib crane has a radius and the hoist hook can only cover within the radius area.

The downside of the bridge crane/runway is the floor space requirement. Whereas a jib crane has a single mast/column the bridge crane runway as a minimum of (4) columns, each taking up floor space. The crane runway must have a clear footprint to be positioned properly over a machine, unlike a jib that allows the mast to basically be positioned anywhere within reach of the pick/lift.

Last thing to consider is how many operators will be using the system, the last thing any employer wants is an employee standing around because they are “waiting on the crane”. Jib crane reach/travel is often less, meaning even multiple users are within arm’s reach of the hoist controls.

In summary, hook coverage area and mounting footprint play important roles in dictating which type of crane to purchase. Take time to stand back and watch the application. Envision where the crane will be located and who will be using it and generally the answer is right before your eyes.

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