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What’s a lorry loader crane?

Sometimes it’s useful for a driver to be able to load and unload freight from a lorry without having to rely on a forklift driver, which might not be possible if the site is rough, like a building site. Sometimes this freight needs to be placed in a location which is elevated, for example, lifting roofing tiles up to the roof. Rather than hiring a separate crane, the solution is a lorry loader crane, also called a Hiab, truck loader crane or lorry-mounted crane.

Lorry loader cranes are positioned at the front or back of the flat deck of the lorry so they are close enough to access loads that are carried on the lorry. The driver or operator will have controls either on the side of the lorry or on a remote control unit. The remote control option is safer as the driver can move around the area to get the best view of the load and its trajectory.

The crane is only designed for self-loading and unloading, but there are attachments available, such as augers, forks and clamps which extend the capability of the crane.

Auger attachment on a lorry loader crane

Types of crane

They can be fixed boom or knuckle boom. Knuckle boom cranes have two articulation points, while fixed boom cranes only have one. Both types usually have an extending boom, but fixed cranes have a winch. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

A fixed boom crane lifts roofing materials
Crane controls shown on the side of this fixed boom crane which has a winch
Knuckle boom crane on a wharf

How is the crane stabilised?

Because the truck is relatively narrow and has suspension which compresses, a lorry loader crane has at least two outriggers which extend either side to stop it tipping over when it’s lifting from the side.

How much can a lorry loader crane lift?

Each unit will have a rating plate showing how much the crane can lift and to what height. The lower the lift and the closer the item is to the lorry, the heavier the weight can be. The longer the boom and the further away from the lorry, the more leverage is applied to the lorry and the easier it is to tip it over.

The crane can lift a maximum of 1040kg when the boom is fully extended, but can lift 3650kg if the boom is only extended 4m when horizontal.

How are items lifted using a lorry loader crane?

At the end of the boom is a hook. This hook is used to connect chains or slings which are, in turn, either wrapped around or hooked to the load being lifted. It’s important that a lorry loader crane operator has the correct qualifications in rigging and slinging a load so they can safely operate the crane.

The rigging on this load is not correct – the load is tipping too much. The driver should set it down and reconfigure the slings

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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