QMC Cranes Blog

Picking the Perfect Precast Crane

Here are a few questions to ask your team

Picking a new crane for your business is kind of like trying to select the best streaming service for your television setup. The options can be overwhelming, with many features, price points, and extras. As with any big decision, it helps to know what you want when you’re starting the decision-making process.

Consider the search for the ideal crane. Do you need more reach? Do you need higher lifting capacity? How much payload can you take to your jobsite? These questions and many others become glaring issues when beginning your search.

Every industry application has slightly different requirements, be it construction, oil and gas, or electric utilities. Here we will discuss cranes for the precast concrete industry and what should you look for in a truck crane that could pay long-term dividends for your business.

Precast concrete is extremely versatile material that continues to grow in popularity for community infrastructure needs. There are certain limitations when it comes to transporting and setting a precast structure on a jobsite, and because the precast structure needs to be moved from the manufacturing facility to the installation site, it will need to be transported on federal highways and subject to size limits. (See an example of California regulations.) So truck mounted cranes or trailer cranes are the answer. Let’s go through the key considerations that any precast business owner, operations manager, or equipment buyer should make in selecting a crane.

Which products do you want to be able to ship and set?

Some products never need to be offloaded and set, so a crane doesn’t make sense. Handholes or small boxes can be transported on line trucks or even shipped less than load (LTL). Other products like septic tanks, electrical vaults, clarifiers, or storage tanks typically need to be shipped to and installed at jobsites. These precast concrete products are ideal candidates for a crane that increases your company’s value-added service to your customers.

What are the weights and dimensions of your products?

Deciding what products to deliver and set, determining all the possible sizes, and picking the best crane to fit the criteria can be challenging for even the most knowledgeable professional. Are you delivering a 1,500-gallon septic tank or moving a12 foot by 6-foot vault section? The crane needs to be able to carry the weight of that product on the deck or split the weight between the deck and a trailer. For that reason, a lightweight crane is important to ensure your combined weights stay within federal transportation requirements. See our chart for a 49,700 pound capacity trailer with a boom length up to 37 feet.

The dimensions of your products are also a huge factor when it comes to a precast concrete application. Most truck cranes use a horizontal lift cylinder that helps boost the lifting capacity of the crane. While this may benefit the crane’s ability to pick up the product, it renders the deck space almost useless for loading large concrete products. We recognized that limitation at QMC, so we design our cranes with a vertical lift cylinder that maximizes the open space on the deck to accommodate the largest products possible.

When setting, how far do you need to be able to set your heaviest product?

The ability to set products is why we consider a crane in the first place. So bigger is better, right? Not necessarily. There’s a give and take to consider.

The issue with a high-capacity crane always comes back to the weight. A bigger, stronger boom weighs more, meaning you lose the ability to put as much weight on the deck. Boom design is the art of balancing the strongest capacity with the lightest possible weight to ensure maximum payload every time. Look at your most common applications. What products are you shipping, and how close are you able to get to the set location? While it would be great to set a 20,000-pound piece 30 feet away, it may not be necessary for your company.

As much as we wish there was a simple formula for the perfect crane design, it’s like choosing your TV service. It’s not a one size fits all decision. Instead, it’s a series of tradeoffs between things like lift capacity and crane payload. That’s where QMC’s team of engineers can assist. We have extensive experience and deep roots in the precast concrete industry. We’re ready to help you design the perfect boom truck or trailer crane to elevate your business.

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