7 Main Components of a Construction Crane

Lifting cranes are crucial in the construction, marine, mining, civil, and aviation industries. For the construction sector, the industrial crane is a workhorse used to lift, move, and lower materials and debris at a work site. Some of these materials can be bulky and may exceed the crane’s carrying capacity. You’ll need to pick the right crane for your project to get the job done safely and efficiently.

While the current market has numerous construction cranes for hire, most share easily identifiable parts. Seven of these major crane parts include the following: 

  • Hook
  • Hoist
  • Boom
  • Jib
  • Counterweight
  • Outriggers
  • Base

Here’s a detailed look at these different crane parts and their functions:

7 main components of a construction crane
7 main components of a construction crane

1. Hook

The crane hook is the most prominent part located at the end of the boom. The part is usually attached to an electric motor-controlled steel cable. This connection enables the crane to pick and lift loads or materials off the ground. The hook holds the load in place while the rest of the construction crane moves it around. A safety latch is often fitted to the crane hook to prevent the hoisted load from slipping off during transit.

When lifting, the concentrated load places a lot of stress on the hook’s curved inner surfaces. Crane hooks need to be strong and durable enough to handle heavy loads, ideally made from metals like:

  • Wrought iron
  • Alloy steel
  • Carbon steel
  • Chromium steel

These metals are further hardened through heat treatment to enhance their properties. 

2. Hoist

The lifting power of a construction crane comes from a hoist system. Without the hoist, crane operators can’t lift objects off the ground vertically. This system is composed of wires and a cranking mechanism. 


Wires connect the hook to the rest of the crane. As a safety precaution, the cables are made of helically twisted reinforced steel to enhance overall strength. This threading pattern evenly distributes the load’s weight, reducing strain on the individual strands of steel wire. This unique wire design prevents the hoisted load from becoming unstable if a single strand breaks.

Cranking Mechanism

This mechanism consists of a hydraulic or electric motor-powered pulley system. The crane pulleys, known as sheaves, help increase the load your construction crane hook can lift. Most sheaves can hold multiple cables, which distribute the weight of the load more evenly. These steel cables further lower the risk of snaps or breaks during the hoisting process. The overall design also aids in hoisting objects that lack a centered balance point.

3. Boom

Arguably the largest crane part, the boom is a long steel arm that extends from the main crane body to the crane hook. The boom primarily moves and positions hoisted materials far or near the boom base. Crane booms come in different styles depending on the crane type. 

Lattice Boom

A lattice boom comprises multiple steel bars welded in a “W” or “V” shape. This design increases the boom’s strength while significantly lowering its weight. However, this crane boom has a fixed length, limiting how far it can extend. You can easily spot the lattice boom on a tower or crawler crane

Hydraulic Boom

A hydraulic boom can extend or retract as directed during operation. The two main hydraulic boom systems are:

  • Telescopic crane boom
  • Folding crane boom

Both systems rely on a hydraulic pump to extend or collapse the boom sections. The pump contains pistons that push hydraulic fluid to move different boom sections. 

A telescopic crane boom consists of tubes of different sizes in a rectangle or trapezoid shape. The smaller boom tube fits into the bigger one. During operation, the hydraulic mechanism can push the narrower tube into or out of the wider one, decreasing or increasing the boom length. 

A folding crane boom has multiple joints that flex and extend during operation. This boom requires more hydraulic cylinders to support the complex folding and unfolding processes. Folding crane booms are ideal for compact worksites that need precise crane movements due to the increased range of mobility.  

4. Jib

Often confused with a crane boom, the jib is a detachable piece found at the end of a lattice boom. This crane part allows for more leverage and distance between the crane’s body and the load. Since the jib moves horizontally, you can hoist longer and larger loads. 

The extra space between the main body and the jib reduces the risk of material hitting the primary support. A jib is a common feature on tower cranes, along with counter jibs. Some jib versions have a fixed end, while other variations are hinged. Hinges allow an up or down movement for better accuracy in load placement. 

5. Counterweight

Construction cranes use counterweights to offset the load’s weight at the front so that they don’t topple over. You can find the detachable counterweights positioned at the back of the crane. Without this counterbalance, the crane would tip toward the boom lift. 

The counterweights need to weigh more than the load for better balance. Depending on the load’s weight and size, you can add or remove counterweights as needed for different jobs.

6. Outrigger

Outriggers are extendable parts found at a crane’s base. Any uncoordinated movement can destabilize a crane with a hoisted load, so crane operators use hydraulic outriggers to distribute the crane’s weight over a large surface area.

Outriggers ensure cranes reach their optimal lifting capacity by providing a solid, stable base. However, crane outriggers don’t compensate for unstable land. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the ground needs to be sufficiently graded and well drained before setting up construction equipment. 

7. Base

Depending on the terrain, the crane will have one of the following bases: 

  • Concrete foundation. Tower cranes rest on a concrete foundation to secure them on the ground. The crane’s foundation is among the first areas implanted into the ground during construction. A proper concrete foundation provides a stable base to support the tower crane upright to reach high areas.
  • Floats. For water terrain, floats prevent the crane from submerging. A floating crane is used on offshore construction sites. The crane helps in drilling crude oil ocean deposits and marine construction of bridges and ports. 
  • Wheels. This crane part allows for increased mobility on bumpy, uneven ground. Most small cranes are transported in the back of flatbeds, but an operator can potentially drive a wheeled crane on the road with much ease. All-terrain cranes get equipped with more than four wheels and use an all-wheel drive system to handle any weather conditions. These cranes can easily maneuver on gravel, sand, and asphalt roads.
  • Tracks. For soft, muddy, and even ground, tracks offer more stability than wheels. Cranes with tracks are an attractive alternative for contractors due to the added safety, despite their slow-paced movement.

Rent a Construction Crane From Maxim Crane

Unique angle looking down at a construction crane with street view.

The next time you spot a crane, try naming the visible parts. 

Maxim Crane has various lifting cranes for hire, tailored to your job specifications. They also offer experienced crane operators to support your construction project and provide custom lifting solutions. Get a quote today to benefit from coast-to-coast heavy lifting services.

Disclaimer Statement:

We hope you found this article informative. Our content is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute advice or necessarily reflect the range of services Maxim Crane Works, LP provides. Readers should not act upon this information without first seeking assistance from a qualified industry professional. For crane recommendations for your specific project, consider speaking with one of our sales professionals. Although we attempt to ensure that postings on our blog are complete and accurate, we assume no responsibility for their completeness or accuracy.


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