Shannahan Crane & Hoist

Gantry Cranes vs. Bridge Cranes: Which One Do You Need?

Material lifting is a heavy business—and we mean that literally. The construction of the Greek temple marked the origin of the first crane in 515 BC, where they lifted the tongs and Lewis iron during construction. 

Social and political factors in Greece changed over time. This change made the crane the preferred method to move materials. To power these wood cranes, they used both men and donkeys. 

Throughout history, cranes made it possible to construct and move different materials. The bridge cranes of today don’t use donkeys and wood. They use combustion engines and electric motors with hydraulic systems.

They are also made of iron and steel. But did you know there is a common misunderstanding among the different cranes on the market? The bridge crane and gantry crane are terms used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same.

Obtaining the right crane to do the job is the first step to ensuring you get the job done. But do you have the right crane to do that job? Read on to learn about the differences between bridge and gantry cranes and what they get used for. 

What are Bridge Cranes? 

When you see this crane it is common to see it as an overhead bridge crane. Their components are on top of a trolley system. This enables them to move around wherever they are to provide more utility. 

They move horizontally and vertically. This is possible because they have two overhead runways built into the support. They are great for use in crowded areas like warehouses. 

Bridge cranes really do the heavy lifting. Some get rated up to one hundred tons. 

What Is a Gantry Crane? 

A gantry crane is a crane used to straddle an object or workplace. This means the crane sits around the area where its placed. The support columns are on the side of the crane and have wheels. 

The wheels on the support columns enable them to move with the bridge. There are two different types of cranes. One where they ride along a track or one where they use a caster to keep the movement straight. 

They are able to move materials up and over, but they aren’t able to move them completely around. Gantry cranes have capabilities within the range of 1/2 to 15 tons.

How Are They Similar to One Another?

Both gantry and bridge cranes will move extremely heavy loads. They both operate with hoists. These hoists can be wire rope or chain, electric, or air-powered models.

Overhead lifting is another way they are similar. They both have similar support. The support is a girder. Both cranes have a bridge girder to support their hoists. 

Deciding on which one is best comes when you decide exactly what you need. To determine which crane you need, consider production space and your long-term plans.

What Are the Differences Between the Two Cranes? 

After reading about the differences you will understand their main purpose and use. The main differences between gantry cranes and bridge cranes will become obvious. Read below, and we’ll explain those differences and why they are important.

The Bridge Crane Difference  

A bridge crane’s main pull is that it is custom sized. This means a bridge crane is custom-made to fit whatever environment it is used in. They commonly span the entire facility and allow users to do many different things. 

Users will lift, move, and position materials in different ways throughout the area. The flexibility makes the bridge crane great for use in warehouses and large spaces. They are ideal for moving extremely heavy loads.

These loads are often larger than what a gantry crane will hold. They are larger because they are fixed to a structure. 

One main difference: their lifting mechanism is on an elevated rail and it is a permanent fixture. They can span hundreds of feet. 

bridge cranes

The Gantry Crane Difference 

A gantry crane is a great stabilizer. They are firm and built on top of the overhead structure known as a gantry. They are capable of moving extremely large loads or something as simple as a car engine. 

One of the main benefits of the gantry crane is that they are cheaper than overhead bridge cranes. They are easily disassembled and can lift heavy loads. These heavy loads don’t place excess stress on a building structure. 

While gantry cranes are unable to lift as much as a bridge, they hold their own when it comes to versatility. 

One main difference: they provide overhead lifting from a structure. They can be on a track or trackless. Gantry crane rental is also available, while bridge cranes are often permanent. 

Why are the Terms Used Interchangeably?

The truth is that there are a large number of lifting devices and cranes to do a variety of jobs. The misconception happens because both gantry cranes and bridge cranes have a bridge.   

Most people see the bridge and think they are one and the same. But the truth is that the bridge on each crane mounts differently. 

They also carry a similar function and have hoists that move in a similar fashion. If you look at the cranes you’ll understand why these terms get used interchangeably. But they shouldn’t.  

But the real reason these terms get mixed together is because of the lack of knowledge. When you don’t understand how they work, it is easy to see why the terms get confused.   

Both Cranes Are up for Your Job

Gantry and bridge cranes are incredible inventions that help with every day construction. They’ve become instrumental in both moving large materials and building. Without cranes, our world would look very different.    

At Shannahan Crane & Hoist Inc. we’re committed to providing you with the best lifting solutions to do the job. We offer free consultations to get you started. Learn more about our material handling contact us today.

To read more about our industry check out our blog. We discuss how to choose an equipment company and the importance of crane training

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