Shannahan Crane & Hoist

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Jib Cranes

Do you want to know all about jib cranes and how they work, but maybe don’t know where to start?

We’re the crane experts here at Shannahan Crane and Hoist.

Jib cranes may seem complicated at first but in this ultimate guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about them.

What Are Jib Cranes?

Gorbel Freestanding Workstation Jib Crane yellow

So, what is a jib crane? Jib cranes are overhead lifting devices that are often used in small work areas for lifting tasks that require repetitive and precise motion. They are highly useful and adaptable.

They can also work in concert with overhead bridge cranes to become even more efficient.

Jib cranes have simple, mechanical designs and they can typically lift from 250lbs to 15 tons. Well-known for having an ergonomic design, Jib cranes are an invaluable tool that can increase productivity, efficiency, and safety.

Types of Cranes

Different types of cranes suit different purposes. We’ll explore the following styles of cranes.

1. Freestanding Jib Cranes

2. Foundationless Jib Cranes

3. Mast Type Jib Cranes

4. Wall-Mounted Jib Cranes

5. Articulating Jib Cranes

The term mobile jib crane refers to a crane that you can easily relocate, however, most of the time when people say this phrase, they mean a crane that can only carry relatively light loads and is attached to a truck or vehicle.

Freestanding Jib Cranes

The most common type of jib crane is likely a freestanding jib crane. They are highly versatile and can be installed in any location. They typically support 360° of rotation and boom heights up to 40’. Freestanding jib cranes also usually have a capacity that ranges up to 15 tonnes.

Because freestanding jib cranes can be base-plate mounted, foundation or inset mounted they are extremely adaptable to different use cases and scenarios. Teams that use free-standing jib cranes appreciate that they have the highest weight capacities, higher levels of durability, and provide a lot of rotation.

Their main drawback is price because they are usually very expensive and difficult to install.

Foundationless Jib Cranes

Slab mounting foundationless jib cranes. is the most common way to secure them. They are bolted to 6” reinforced concrete for both indoor or outdoor use. They’re a popular option because you can easily relocate them. 

Typically they have 360° of rotation and boom heights up to 20’. Their weight capacity usually ranges from 1,000lbs of lift. That’s quite a bit lower than some other types of crane. 

Mast Type Jib Cranes

A big benefit of choosing a mast-type crane is that they are less expensive than other crane types. That’s because they only need 6” of concrete to support them. They are a little different from other cranes in that they can use multiple sources of support, such as an overhead support beam.

Usually, mast-type cranes support 360° of rotation and boom heights up to 40’ which makes them flexible and versatile. They also usually have a capacity that ranges up to the high end of 10 tons.

There are two different types of mast-type jib cranes. The most popular type is called a full cantilever. The other type is known as a drop cantilever crane. Each type of crane has pros and cons associated with it. But, the full cantilever style has the most lifting capacity available and also the most clearance. 

Wall-Mounted Jib Cranes

If you need a wall-mounted crane, this type of crane is perfect. Instead of a traditional foundation, wall-mounted cranes can use existing walls or cleverly embedded support columns for a foundation. 

Wall-mounted swing cranes are great because they can swing around obstructions and obstacles easily. They also fold away for safe and neat stowage. Their main drawback is they tend to only have a capacity of up to 5 tons and they support 180° to 200° of rotation and boom heights of up to 30’. 

Overhead crane parts can be expensive to replace and require new foundations. 

Articulating Jib Cranes

If you want a crane with two swivel arms, chances are you’re thinking of an articulating jib crane. These cranes are different from other cranes because they have two arms that can lift loads around corners and obstructions. They are great for complex and confined workspaces. 

There are lots of different types of mounting styles and foundation styles for this type of crane. They support up to 200° of swivel and 360°rotation and boom heights up to 30’. They often can only carry very light loads compared with the other cranes in this article. Often as little as a single Ton.

Jib Crane Application Criteria

The crane you require depends on a host of factors and choosing the right crane necessitates a thorough assessment of your needs. Here are some factors to keep in mind when selecting a crane.


The top end of the weight scale should never be tested. That is to say, if the capacity or design weight is listed as 5 tons, you should never see if you can go a fraction over that.

It’s unsafe to do so. When manufacturers calculate capacity ratings they base their mathematics on a design load that includes the capacity rating of the crane plus 15% of the capacity for the weight of the hoist and trolley and also 25 percent of the capacity to allow for additional impact.

So, the weight load listed is the load itself. 

The Height Under The Boom (HUB) and Rotation

The required distance from the floor to the underside of the boom is a factor in choosing your crane. Lifting distance is more easily varied with some types of a crane than with others. 

Boom rotation is also a factor to consider. While freestanding and mast-type jib cranes can provide up to 360° of rotation, wall-mounted and articulating jobs only provide 200°. 

Power Requirements

The amount of power you will need is another relevant consideration when selecting a crane. Different crane models require different power supplies (electric, or air) and they can be connected through the top or bottom entry.  Also, jib cranes can be completely manual.  

If your crane is outdoors it might also need to be weatherized to protect it from the elements and ensure your power supply remains uncompromised. 

We Can Assist With Your Jib Crane Needs

We hope you enjoyed reading our detailed guide to jib cranes and how they work.

We’re the crane experts here at Shannahan Crane and Hoist. Looking for a jib crane for sale? Do you have some questions that weren’t answered in this article?

Get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.

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