Mobile Crane Operation

A mobile crane is usually cable controlled and sits on a rubber-tired carrier, a truck. It can also be controlled by hydraulics, have a telescoping boom, and be self-propelled.

Before 1870 cranes were fixed into a position, sometimes on flatcars, but their movements were still fairly restricted. The first mobile cranes were introduced in Paris in 1873, and Appleby Corp. began producing truck mounted cranes, with gasoline engines, in the 1920s. In the 1960s the Hydra Speed Crane was offered to the public, and telescopic hydraulic booms were also introduced to the market.

A mobile crane operator has be multi-skilled, knowing how to stabilise their cranes. They must consider local conditions in their work location, and know how to handle a shifting load. Having truck driving skills, and possessing a commercial truck driving license is a must for mobile crane operators. Read more about our mobile crane training here.

A good mobile crane operator will find themselves in great demand, working two, three, or more different jobs, in different locations, in one day. So the mobile crane operator must be able to drive, have the strength and skills to perform multiple set ups, and the wisdom to know the right place to set up their truck in any location.

Of course safety is the most important factor in getting a job done, and mobile crane operators have to know how to start, continue, and finish a job without incident or accident.

  • A good mobile crane operator is watching for power lines in the work site, how to set up barriers and barricades, how to prevent accidental electrocution, and the steps to recovering from this kind of accident.
  • Mobile cranes can easily tip over, so a good mobile crane operator must understand loads and load rating, and must know how their loads must be carried on uneven terrain.
  • A good safety course gives the operator eyes to watch for warning signals, how to avoid accidents, and how to recover if disaster strikes.

Lorry Mounted Crane

About 150 years ago a crane was a stationary tool, having to be rebuilt every time a new job required its use in a different place. Then someone built a train car that could haul tens of thousands of pounds, and the mounted and mobile crane was born.

A lorry loader crane, sometimes called a “knuckle-boom crane” or “articulating crane,” is usually hydraulically powered, and has a boom arm fitted to a truck or trailer. The boom arm can be telescopic, fixed, or be folded up for storage. Some modern cranes at fully automated and do not need a operator at their controls.

A “rolloader crane”is mounted on a chassis with wheels, and can ride on a trailer, sometimes attached to the back of the trailer so there is more room for goods on the flat bed. This type of crane is commonly used on a brick and block transporter and fitted with a special grab that grips the bottom of the pack and eliminates the use of pallets.

Before beginning a job a mounted lorry operator should use a check list to make everything is safe and all tools are available on the crane. That checklist should include checks for:

  • Load charts and symbols
  • hydraulic fluids and levels and slewing oil levels
  • All mounted bolts
  • Leaks
  • Cracks or dents in the boom sections
  • Winch and wire rope
  • Load hook for stretch, wear
  • Properly placed safety latch

Operational checks should include:

  • Ensuring control levers are centring with PTO disengaged
  • Check any remote control systems
  • Check latches and locks on outrigger beams
  • Engage the PTO, to check for operation and fluid leaks

Upon arrival at a site an operator should check:

  • For overhead and ground wires and hazards
  • That the ground is firm and level
  • Ensure outriggers are full extended and support legs are set.

Overhead Gantry Cranes

Gantry cranes, also known as bridge cranes, or a portal crane, lift objects with a hoist fitted on a hoist trolley and can move horizontally on rails fitted under a beam. Read our Gantry crane training page here.

Overhead gantries rest on wheels and run on parallel sides of walls of a building, so that the entire crane had move the length of the building. Gantry cranes are designed to lift heavy objects and huge gantries have been used for shipbuilding where the crane straddles the ship. One of the largest gantry cranes in the world is located in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has a span of 140 meters, and can lift up to 840 tons to a height of 70 meters.

The first steam powered overhead crane was installed at a work site in at the Crewe Railway Works in Cheshire, England in 1861. The first mass production electric powered gantry was produced in German in 1910.

Overhead crane operators must have a basic understanding of math and physics as well as good depth perception and mechanical aptitude.They must also possess good communication skills, for safety and for staying coordinated with other workers around them.

A person can become an overhead crane operator through on-the-job training or a limited number of union apprenticeships. Union apprenticeships take 3 years to complete and combine practical experience and classroom instruction. Enrolment is limited high school graduates or GED recipients who are between the ages of 18 and 30. 

Overhead gantries should be moved slowly and steadily, should not be swinging, and placed directly over a load before lifting is attempted. Operators should always perform pre-operational checks before work begins, and make sure all hooks are raised, controls and switches are off, and a last visual inspection should uncover no unusual situations after the job is over.

Slinger Signaler

A Slinger Signaler works closely with a crane operator, using radios or had signals to guide loads safely around a site. The signaler checks the “landing area” for safety, assess weights of loads prior to lifting, and makes sure the proper slings or chains are being used for the task.

  • Training for a Slinger Signaler should include:
  • The legal importance of the position
  • Equipment familiarity
  • Pre and post operation checks
  • Storage and maintenance
  • Lift planning and accessories
  • Duties and applications at the site

Taking a lorry loader course is important for the future Slinger Signals because it helps the candidate prepare to be a major accident deterrent and efficiency expert at each job site.

Crane Supervisor

Crane supervisors help oversee proper crane operations, and proper training helps candidates gain a thorough knowledge of safety procedures and they pertain to the crane, rigging, and worker conduct.

Crane supervisor courses include:

Study of Lift Operation and Lifting Equipment Regulations Identification of crane parts and components

  • Understanding of crane rated capacity indicator & limiter
  • Extracting information from Risk Assessment/method statement
  • Crane duty charts
  • Understanding of the need for selection of cranes, stability and ground conditions
  • Understanding lifting accessories & documentation
  • Final fault finding

The Crane Supervisor’s responsibility is to make sure the plan understood by his workers and that it is carried out only as stated.


Crane training is diverse, requiring consideration for many different practices. To understand more about our Crane training courses, or to understand more about your likely requirements please contact us at pro-Trainers UK.

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