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What is a truck-loader crane or truck-mounted crane?

A truck loader crane, truck-mounted crane, HIAB or ‘crane truck’ is a crane that is mounted to a truck, either just behind the cab or just behind the deck. It’s designed to lift goods on and off the truck and means that a driver can deliver goods exactly where is required without the need for a forklift, telehandler or separate crane.

To learn how to use a truck-mounted crane by taking our truck loader crane course. You can also use that course as a refresher for the 3-yearly operator’s certificate.

Truck loader cranes come in two types: knuckle boom type with two booms, and single boom with a cable and moving hook attached.

Rather than having a second (outer) boom, some cranes have a cable to lower the load

The crane is only designed for self-unloading and loading and is not designed for dragging, pressing, lateral pulling or any other task except lifting.

How do you stabilise a truck loader crane?

Because the crane lifts heavy objects onto the truck, the truck itself needs to be stabilized so that it doesn’t tip over. This is done using retractable outriggers or legs.

Without outriggers, the truck would not be able to lift much.

When lifting heavy objects, huge forces can be transmitted through these outriggers, so it’s important that the ground underneath them is solid and stable. It must be able to support the complete load, including the crane and truck, the rigging, the items being lifted and the effect of any movements such as extending the boom and lifting and lowering the load.

How do you control a truck loader crane?

The controls for the crane are usually duplicated on both sides of the truck so that the operator can get the best view of the load being lifted.

Most modern cranes also have some form of remote device to enable the operator to stand well away from the truck. This helps reduce the risk of injuries if something goes wrong with the load.

There is an emergency stop button (shown in red, above) at every control point.

How is the crane moved?

The crane is moved using hydraulic pressure. Oil is forced through a sealed system of pumps, cylinders and hoses. Oil doesn’t compress, even under massive load, so when you apply pressure to the oil by using a pump, you can use this pressure to move parts of the crane and lift the load.

Operating the crane’s controls changes the flow of oil into the system. For example, to raise the load, oil pressure is diverted to the cylinder that lifts the boom. The size of the pumps determines how much lifting force the crane will have.

Power is provided to the pumps using the power take-off or PTO. This diverts power from the truck’s running engine.

As an operator, you need to be familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions, your company’s procedures, the crane safety manual and the approved code of practice for cranes, or ACOP.

How often must a truck loader crane be inspected and certified?

Cranes must be recertified annually and the inspection certificate must be available in the cab of the truck?

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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