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  • Macsalvors Hydraulics Services

All Terrain Cranes Explained

Updated: May 1

While some cranes are specialist in nature, the all terrain crane is a jack of all trades.

This extensive guide will help you understand what an all terrain crane is, what it does and how it can benefit the construction process.

Read on to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of all terrain cranes.

All terrain crane

What is an all terrain crane?

Working on construction sites often presents challenges. From bad weather conditions to rough terrain, it’s always beneficial to be using flexible machinery that can adapt to these recurrent issues. All terrain cranes are built specifically to tackle all types of terrain - making them a great fit for locations with uneven ground and ever-changing weather.

These impressive machines combine the strength of the traditional, trustworthy hydraulic truck crane with the superior mobility of the rough terrain crane, resulting in faster work.

What’s the difference between all terrain cranes and rough terrain cranes?

While all terrain cranes do share some similarities with rough terrain cranes, they are a much more versatile option. Rough terrain cranes are designed for rugged ground - they have fewer tires and high ground clearance that allow them to move on difficult surfaces without specialised equipment. You’ll also find a wider wheelbase and tires for added stability and have integrated power steering. One thing that’s for certain is they are not suited for regular road use.

In comparison, you can do a lot more with an all terrain crane. Powered using two engines and featuring between six to ten tyres which aid in their strength and manoeuvrability, these cranes are suitable for pretty much anything. These adaptable cranes are also substantially bigger than your standard rough terrain crane - their wide cabins provide plenty of space for their operators while the weight of their engines make performing a lift a lot more stable. An extra bonus is their ability to add attachments like luffer jibs and superlifts, heightening their lift even further.

What’s the difference between all terrain cranes and mobile cranes?

While all terrain cranes do have mobile capabilities, they differ from standard mobile cranes. The most common type of mobile crane is the truck-mounted crane, which consists of a crane mounted on a truck chassis. Unlike stationary cranes, they can also be used on uneven terrain and are fairly manoeuvrable. Like all terrain cranes, they can also be fitted with a variety of attachments to make them even more versatile.

However, mobile cranes are usually unable to tackle the rough terrain that all terrain cranes are accustomed to. While all terrain cranes are typically used in construction and mining applications, mobile cranes are typically used in industrial and shipping applications, as they are able to move heavy loads around on smooth surfaces. All-terrain cranes have a higher ground clearance than mobile cranes, meaning they can cross over rough ground, ditches and other obstacles that would bring a mobile crane to a standstill. They also have a more powerful engine and crane lifting capacity.

What are all terrain cranes used for?

All terrain cranes are a highly versatile form of construction machinery. These adaptable lifting machines possess a unique ability to work both on and off road, making them appropriate for a number of jobs.

Here’s just a few examples of how all terrain cranes can be applied:

● Erecting wind turbines

● Installation of pipelines

● Lifting precast concrete building sections

● Steel erecting

● Lifting bricks and other construction materials

● Mobile phone tower construction or upgrades

● Setting up music festivals and other large events

What are the benefits of all terrain mobile cranes?

All terrain cranes offer many advantages. A hybrid of truck-mounted crane and a rough-terrain crane, they serve multiple purposes and can be used on a wide variety of job sites.

Here’s just a few benefits of choosing an all terrain crane:


All terrain cranes are mobile and simple to manoeuvre, allowing them to handle all types of surfaces like sand, grass, gravel, dirt, and asphalt. This makes it easy to transport itself around job sites - they can drive on public roads (reaching up to 55 miles per hour) in order to get to construction sites, unlike rough terrain cranes, which need to be transported. In addition to this, this type of mobile crane can perform many different types of lifts.

Ease of use

Both the versatility and durability of all terrain cranes makes them easy to use in comparison to other types of cranes. Operators can often work more comfortably and conveniently, with less fatigue. They also offer great visibility, ensuring operators get a full view of the work area, enhancing worksite safety.

Compact design

What terrain cranes are arguably most known for is their compact design. The crane can fit into tight spaces to complete lifting tasks that might otherwise be hard to reach with some types of cranes. With an all-wheel steering suspension system for better grip and handling and a mobile undercarriage that allows for better adjustability, the size of the all terrain crane does not detract from their nifty features.

Why are all terrain cranes great for your construction site?

For worksites that need a high degree of mobility, all terrain mobile cranes are the obvious choice. Their adaptability and the ease in which they move materials around makes them the most efficient option out of the different types of crane available to use.

Often outperforming hydraulic and rough terrain cranes, this is why they’re a great addition to your job site:

● Effective at both on and off site work

● Appropriate for use in different weather conditions

● Highly manoeuvrable

● Sturdy and durable

● Suitable for public roads

● Cost effective

● Able to reach high speeds on different surfaces

● Adjustable booms

What is the load capacity of all terrain cranes?

All terrain cranes are available in a variety of sizes, all holding a different load capacity. Many have telescopic booms that extend with hydraulic mechanisms. This feature makes them versatile and powerful. All-terrain cranes can carry loads that range from 40 to 1000 tons, with a reach that can span from 30 to 500 feet.

When should I use an all terrain crane?

The size, mobility and power of all terrain cranes ensure they remain a popular construction choice. Their multi-use properties make them a cost effective investment, as they can adapt to a variety of different ground and weather conditions.

Here’s some situations that would make using an all terrain crane essential:

● Working on construction site with no road access

● Being located in an area with unpredictable weather

● A job site with multiple ground levels

● A worksite with different ground densities

● Remote locations

What should I consider before hiring an all terrain crane?

Of course, before hiring a crane it’s important to consider whether an all terrain crane is indeed the right choice for your project. While these cranes do cover a wide range of construction needs, you’ll need to take factors such as space and training requirements into account.

Here’s some factors to think about before acquiring an all terrain crane:

● The costs of renting an all-terrain crane

● The type of road to and from the construction site

● The type of terrain at the construction site

● The weight of the load and the height the crane needs to lift

It’s also worth noting that due to their comfort to operate, these cranes are considered to be among the most sought after in the world of construction - they’ve been compared to driving a Hummer or Range Rover on the pavement . Therefore, it’s sensible to consider if they’re really necessary for your worksite - there are plenty of regular terrain cranes that are perfect for smoother ground operation.

Where can I find mobile crane services?

If you’re in need of all terrain mobile cranes or any other crane type, the best thing to do is get in touch with one of the plant hire companies near you. Macsalvors Plant Hire Ltd offers a wide range of crane hire services to meet your various requirements. Whether you’re looking to hire a crane for an off-road site or searching for a lorry loader, we provide flexible, trustworthy, and reliable plant hire solutions for your next project in Cornwall or Devon. If you’re ready to go ahead and hire a crane, or you’d like to get some clarification on our crane hire solutions, contact us today.

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