The mobile crane: its development throughout the history of the 20th century

The first hoisting machines are not new since sophisticated lifting devices made of wood have been used for the construction of buildings and structures since ancient times. One can even go back to prehistoric times if one considers the lever as a lifting device. However, it was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the first mobile crane appeared, although mobility was minimal since cranes were systematically mounted on rails and powered by steam.

As is often the case in history, wars are a trigger for innovation in the field of machinery. This is the case with the mobile crane, since it was in the early 1920s, with the needs generated by the First World War, that the idea was born to design a gantry crane capable of moving almost anywhere and being able to work with much greater precision and speed. At the same time, the invention of the petrol engine propelled the development of construction machinery and made it possible to extend its use throughout the world.

The Different Types of Cranes

A crane is a tower or mast equipped with cables and pulleys used to lift and move materials. They are commonly used in the construction industry, in ports and harbours and the manufacture of heavy equipment, as well as in material handling. The main types of cranes are usually structures that are either temporarily fixed to the ground or mounted on a vehicle.

They can be controlled by a crane operator from a cab that moves with the crane, by a control station suspended with push buttons or by radio remote controls. Nowadays, companies are specializing in crane rental. Take MCL Crane Hire, for example. They have different types of cranes for rent in Melbourne.

As with all construction trades, the crane operator is responsible for the safety of the site, the crews and the good working order of the crane.

Mobile Crane

Mobile cranes are the most common and versatile type of crane used in material and construction handling today. Mobile hydraulic cranes consist of a steel lattice girder or telescopic boom mounted on a mobile platform, which can be crawler, wheel or rail mounted. The boom is articulated and can be either raised or lowered by cables or hydraulic cylinders.

What makes a crane so versatile is its small footprint and mobility. In construction or accident situations, it can sometimes be difficult to get close to where you need to hoist materials. Moving a crane to a position where it can lift the material with the appropriate crane capacity is done by calculation. The footprint corresponds to the area required for the crane to be installed and its stabilizers in a position that allows it to hoist the material within the crane’s technical specifications.

Telescopic Crane


Telescopic cranes consist of a mast made up of several tubes inserted into each other. A hydraulic mechanism extends or retracts the tubes to increase or decrease the length of the boom. Today, most construction cranes come in the form of a telescopic crane.

Lathe Crane

When mounted on the ground, tower cranes often offer the best combination of height and lifting capacity. They are also used in the construction of high-rise buildings. Some large tower cranes will reach heights of up to 1000 meters! One important thing to note about tower cranes: when they exceed a certain height, it is essential to connect the tower crane to the building to prevent the crane from tipping over by the wind.

Truck-Mounted Crane (Also Called Pick-Up, Grapple or Truck Crane)

Pick-up trucks are cranes mounted on a traditional truck with rubber tires and offer high mobility. Stabilizers that extend vertically or horizontally are used to level and stabilize the crane during lifting. The cranes rarely exceed 50 tons in capacity. As mentioned above, their versatility lies in their mobility and reach.

Rough Terrain Crane


An all-terrain crane is a crane mounted on an undercarriage with four rubber tires, designed for off-road operations. Stabilizers extend vertically and horizontally to level and stabilize the crane during lifting. It is a single-engine machine where the same engine is used to power the vehicle and the crane. These cranes are ideal for construction sites with rough, muddy and rocky terrain. The crane’s mobility and ability to move around the site make it a useful support crane for light winching as well as for highway, construction and infrastructure projects.

You may have a construction project and looking forward to hire crane services in Melbourne and surrounding regions. With a variety of cranes, including an all-terrain pick and carry crane (the Franna crane), MCL Crane Hire can help you out.