Big Crane Features in a Small Crane

If you are looking for a truck with crane, there are some details about the crane that you should consider before choosing. The term ‘small crane’ has, until recently, meant rudimentary lift equipment – often home-built. The typical small hydraulic crane or hoist consisted of a hydraulic jack mounted under a hinged steel arm with a hook on the end. These cranes were sold by discount auto parts stores for installation on a boom truck. While these cranes were inexpensive, they also were very basic. No power swing, no overload protection, and no outriggers. As a result, these small service truck cranes were often unsafe, clumsy, and difficult to operate, weighed a lot and interfered with cargo space because they did not stow when not in use.

All this began to change in the 1970’s and 80’s when hydraulics were integrated into articulated cranes in Europe. About thirty years ago, a small hydraulic truck crane, often referred to as a small ‘hiab’,  made its appearance. While usually under 3.5tm/25,000 ft.lbs in size, these small ‘hiabs’ incorporated the design, safety and operating features found on a larger, more expensive crane truck.

Today, more sophisticated and rugged small cranes are produced by the major knuckleboom crane companies as well as by several smaller companies.  Technocrane Inc., based in British Columbia Canada, focuses entirely on small cranes for trucks. Of the various small cranes available today, Technocrane’s BIGMAX TC series crane line offers the broadest range of models with the most advanced features available anywhere.

Following are the many features found in the BIGMAX range of electric or hydraulic cranes as well as the larger, more expensive industrial cranes.

-        Hydraulic slewing. This feature gives the operator full control of the load and enables the crane to be rotated safely in both directions under power. This feature eliminates the risk of a crane slewing out of control causing injury to the operator and damaging the load.

-        Hydraulic boom elevation. Unlike most small cranes that have a davit type, fixed boom, BIGMAX cranes have an articulating boom that is raised and lowered by the controlled flow of hydraulic oil in and out of the lift cylinder. The load is raised and lowered using the hydraulic boom function. This feature allows the operator to better control the load.

-        Hydraulic boom extension. This important feature enables the operator to position the load on the deck after it has been lifted. Small truck cranes without this feature still require the operator to manually move the load around on the deck, potentially exposing the operator to the same back injury that could result from lifting the load onto the deck without a crane.

-        Overload protection. This feature is provided by a safety valve on all BIGMAX hydraulic cranes. The valve effectively monitors the load being lifted by the crane.  In contrast, because most small non-hydraulic cranes will lift until they stall, without any reliable load monitoring, they are vulnerable to overloading, lack of load control, structural failure and tipping the carrier chassis.

-        Proportional controls. Proportional controls are included on all BIGMAX cranes give the operator soft-start, smoother and safer control of the load, eliminating the jerky stop/full speed type of control provided by off/on, bang/bang (non-variable) control systems common to many small cranes.

-        Additional control valve. An additional control valve section is included with all TC series BIGMAX cranes to operate the outrigger stabilizers or another additional hydraulic function to maximize the utility of the crane.

We invite you to view our TC 300 which has proven to be a great service body crane. To get more information about all Bigmax cranes for sale, call 1-877-531-8644 toll free.

How do BIGMAX cranes compare with Hiab, Fassi, Palfinger and Maxilift?

As the crane industry matures, many of the large international crane manufacturers are intensifying their focus on heavy duty truck cranes and reducing the number of small cranes in their line-up.  This has allowed several strong new brands of small cranes to emerge and fill this niche in the crane market. Crane companies such as Technocrane Inc. with its proprietary BIGMAX brand of small truck cranes (ie. 3.5 t/m – 25,000 ft.lb.) are expanding their product range and steadily increasing their market share in this industry at the expense of the larger manufacturers who are falling behind in many areas.

Hiab, for example, is the largest of crane manufacturers in the world and is well known for their mid to large size boom crane including wall board and other specialty cranes. Focusing on the larger and specialized segment of the market, Hiab has reduced its range of small cranes to only 4 models in Canada. Palfinger, an Austrian manufacturer, now produces only 3 small PC series crane models.  Palfinger’s priority seems to be the upper end of its size range of cranes – a strategy that allows them to compete with Hiab for global dominance in the large crane market.  Gru Fassi SpA, is following the lead of Hiab and Palfinger, competing for the medium to heavy duty articulated or knuckle boom crane. While Fassi has made no significant changes to their compact Micro Series cranes for some time, they are continuing to improve and expand their heavy duty crane range and now manufacture a total of 5 models with a lift moment of over 90t/m.

Technocrane Inc., on the other hand, has developed the small crane market in the United States and Canada and is today one of Canada’s primary distributors of small truck mounted cranes.  Established in 1990, the company initially was the exclusive distributor of Maxilift cranes. For more than a decade, the company sold Maxilift and other brands of small cranes. They got to know the qualities as well as the deficiencies of Maxilift and other small cranes .

Using this knowledge, the company developed its own brand of BIGMAX small truck mounted cranes. Today, the BIGMAX brand of hydraulic truck cranes includes more than 20 models of smaller cranes. The company specializes in bringing small cranes to market, providing superior service for buyers of small, compact cranes for use on boom trucks.

BIGMAX small truck cranes have many design features and advantages compared with other cranes manufactured by the ‘big five’ crane companies.  For example, BIGMAX TC Series telescopic cranes have the longest hydraulic reach. The small Hiab cranes, including the Hiab 033T, has a maximum of 3 hydraulic extensions reaching only 15.7 ft. horizontally.  Similarly Fassi Micro Series cranes reach a maximum of 15.4 ft hydraulically, also with only 3 hydraulic extensions. By comparison, the BIGMAX TC350 has 4 hydraulic extensions with a side reach of 19’5”, or 24% greater.

BIGMAX TC cranes also have a more robust rotation system. The main deficiency of Maxi-lift cranes, for example, is the vulnerable and poorly protected rotation system, most profound in the 160 and smaller sizes. Instead of being enclosed and protected from the elements, the slewing gear mechanism on Maxi-lift cranes is shielded by a fragile plastic cover that can break in transit from the manufacturer in Europe.

While the slewing gears in the larger Maxi-lift models (ie. 200 and up) are somewhat more protected inside a fabricated enclosure with a rubber cover, this design allows the outside of the rubber hat to lift at road speeds creating an opening through which sand, salt and other road debris can enter and cause the slewing system to fail prematurely. The same design, perhaps because of its low cost, is still used by Maxilift in today’s production.

To avoid such issues all BIGMAX cranes are built with steel slewing gear enclosures – fabricated steel in the case of the TC100, and cast steel in all other models with the gears running in an oil bath. This design is proving to be much more reliable and enables Technocrane to offer a 2 year warranty on all their BIGMAX cranes for sale.

Call 1-877-531-8644 for more information about this leader in the small truck crane market.