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What Is an Overhead Bridge Crane?

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Overhead crane” means a crane with a movable bridge carrying a movable or fixed hoisting mechanism and traveling on an overhead fixed runway structure. These devices are widely used in many industrial environments where large and heavy items require moving from one location to another.


Overhead bridge cranes have long been used in factories and warehouses to hoist and move heavy objects, often in small or cramped areas that may not allow for proper and safe maneuvering of forklift trucks. An overhead bridge crane can remedy this situation by providing an effective manner to hoist and move heavy loads that require significant power capability. It can readily meet numerous requirements that are sometimes performed by other types of equipment.


Overhead bridge cranes can be divided into two groups: top-running bridge cranes and under-running bridge cranes. The primary distinction is the manner in which the end trucks are attached to the crane. Top-running overhead bridge cranes have the end trucks supported on rails attached to the top of the crane runway, while under-running bridge cranes have the end trucks supported on tracks attached to the bottom flanges of the beams.


The benefits of an overheard bridge crane, whether top-running or under-running, are fairly numerous and can be significant solutions to alternative methods such as forklifts and elevators. A major benefit is that overhead bridge cranes are considerably less expensive than other options. They are also of a relatively simple design, lending to ease of operation and can be ordered as kits and installed on-site by the purchaser. They are designed so that in case of failure, they lock their load in place and prevent it from falling.

Shortcomings of Overhead Bridge Cranes

The primary–and possibly only–drawback to having an overhead bridge crane is that they are not very mobile. However, even this situation can be remedied by installing a track network to extend the range of the crane. This added expense still allows an overhead bridge crane to be a more economical choice than a forklift. The fact that an overhead bridge crane can actually reduce or even eliminate the need for forklifts or freight elevators is also a considerable benefit.


When pondering the need to acquire equipment that allows for the safe and efficient relocating of heavy objects as is required in warehouse environments and the like, an overhead bridge crane is a candidate for serious consideration. They are readily available to be shipped in kit form, can be configured to meet just about any application requirements and are safe when properly installed and operated. They are very suitable for small spaces and require less electricity to operate.

For any help in deciding your crane needs please contact us at Crane-Tec 800-755-6378 or

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