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  • Writer's pictureBret Lussow

What is Freestanding?

We often get inquiries for “freestanding” runway structures for bridge cranes. The issue is that if you ask 10 people, you will get 10 different answers on what the definition of “freestanding” is. Generally, “freestanding” means it is not part of the building structure, however, that doesn’t mean it can’t tie into the building structure. Confused?

Runways can be a bit tricky, not only do you have to take into consideration loading but also sway. Even most enclosed track cranes (workstation cranes) deemed to be “freestanding” will have a notation on the drawings stating that sway bracing is required or recommended.

The other issue is that standards are loose at best, the design is up to the manufacturer so costs can vary widely. Two manufacturers, two completely different designs and costs. In order to be truly “freestanding” you should have one of the following:

1. Moment Columns – think of this like a jib crane mast, generally pipe.

2. A-Frame bracing to the floor - If not tying back to the building structure then one inboard or outboard brace is required on each column along with ONE total brace required on any one column on both sides running parallel with runway for longitudinal braces…. i.e. If the system has 4 columns total you will need 6 braces to make it completely free standing.

3. Headers and/or side struts – Handling Systems INTL OLYMPUS® design.

4. Tiebacks to the building structure at each column.

Handling Systems International (HIS) can manufacturer runways for just about any application and acceptance of the customers’ ability to utilize their existing building/ structure. When we receive the inquiry that states runway “must be freestanding; cannot tie into the building” we are limited in our design, which makes quoting easier and our OLYMPUS® design then becomes the crane/runway of choice.


The HSI OLYMPUS® Free Standing Runway/Crane System is a perfect solution for situations where overhead crane installation is otherwise difficult or impractical. Because the runways are usually installed above the floor without footers, OLYMPUS® Cranes work well in pre-cast concrete buildings. Best of all….”FREESTANDING”

Since all connections are bolted rather than welded, the OLYMPUS® can be easily dismantled and moved to another location, an advantage when used in a leased building. The OLYMPUS® free standing runways/cranes low headroom design maximizes lift when headroom is at a premium.

Good questioning and understanding customers expectations are important. Rely on the manufacturer to help the distributor and end user make good decisions. Remember, ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers on what the definition of “freestanding” is. Let HSI make this easy for you.

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