Overhead crane, lifting heavy piping section.

Are you curious about those massive metal structures gliding silently above the factory floor, constantly moving haulage items from point to point. Ever wondered how warehouses effortlessly move heavy loads from one end to the other? Enter the world of the ever present overhead cranes – the unsung heroes of industrial material handling. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll break down the basics of overhead cranes to help you understand what they are, how they work, and why they’re so essential in industrial haulage and logistics.

What Are Overhead Cranes?

If you can picture a sturdy metal beam spanning a factory or warehouse, with a trolley put beneath it, this is essentially the basic structure of an overhead crane. Also known as bridge cranes or overhead traveling cranes, they’re designed to lift, move, and position heavy objects with precision and ease and usually cover all areas of a warehouse or depot. Overhead cranes run along elevated tracks or runways, that are fixed or flexible allowing them to cover large areas while leaving the ground floor clear for other activities. Health and safety is always paramount to workers on the ground who are operating within the range of one or more overhead cranes and training to use one requires plenty of skill and patience.

How Do They Work?

Overhead cranes operate using a straightforward principle of physics: leverage. The crane’s horizontal beam, called the bridge, spans the width of the facility and travels along parallel runways supported by sturdy columns or the building’s structure. A hoist, mounted on a trolley, travels back and forth across the bridge, lifting and lowering loads as needed. Operators control the movement of the overhead crane using either on-site pendant controls or remote consoles, directing the hoist to lift, lower, and maneuver the load with careful precision.

Some Types Of Overhead Cranes:

  1. Single Girder Overhead Cranes – These overhead cranes feature a single horizontal beam (girder) attached to the runway support structure. They’re suitable for light to medium-duty lifting tasks and are often used in workshops, maintenance facilities, and small manufacturing plants.
  2. Double Girder Overhead Cranes – With two parallel girders supporting the bridge, double girder overhead cranes offer increased lifting capacity and stability. They’re ideal for heavy-duty applications such as steel mills, foundries, and shipyards, where lifting large and bulky loads is commonplace.

Why Are They So Important?

Overhead cranes play a crucial role in enhancing efficiency and safety in industrial environments. By automating the lifting and transporting of heavy objects, they reduce the risk of accidents and injuries associated with manual handling. Moreover, overhead cranes optimize workspace utilization by operating above ground level, allowing for smoother material flow and better organization of the facility. Whether it’s in manufacturing, construction, warehousing, or shipbuilding, overhead cranes are indispensable tools for streamlining operations and improving productivity.


Overhead cranes may seem imposing at first glance, but their operation is rooted in simplicity and efficiency. By harnessing the power of leverage and precision engineering, these versatile machines revolutionize material handling across various industries. Whether you’re observing them in action at a factory or considering their application in your own business, understanding the fundamentals of overhead cranes opens up a world of possibilities for safer, more efficient operations.

Looking for one or more overhead cranes to use around your facility. Contact the experts at Taurus Cranes & Hoists Ltd who have years of experience in manufacturing, reselling, installing and training users on these industrials mammoths. Call us on 01704 332291 today for a FREE quote to discuss your lifting needs and requirements!

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