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What Is a Forklift Crane?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 27 June 2014
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A forklift crane, which is sometimes called a forklift mounted crane, is a tool used to lift and maneuver heavy objects. Forklifts are motorized vehicles that are usually used to lift heavy objects off the ground and move them to a new location. Adding a crane attachment to one of these vehicles makes it possible to lift objects from above and then to move them into place. A crane attachment can also be attached to the forklift or taken off of it as needed.

The primary component of a forklift crane is the forklift itself. These are relatively compact vehicles that are usually only big enough for a single operator. They are frequently used indoors, in warehouses or shipping yards, and are built with a forked projection on the front that can slide under a pallet or crate and then lift it using hydraulics. Once a forklift has picked up an object, it can be driven to a new location where that object can then be deposited.

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The crane attachment is the other main part of a forklift crane. This attachment consists of a boom, a chain or rope, a hook and a hoist. The boom attaches to the forks of the forklift and extends out from the vehicle several yards at an incline. The chain or rope runs along the length of the boom and is run through one or more hoists, which are machines that decrease the amount of force needed to lift an object by increasing the amount of rope needed to lift it. A hook at the end of the rope allows the crane to attach to a rope or chain tied around a crate so that the crate can be lifted.

Once a crate is being carried by a forklift crane, it can be moved into the proper position. The crane offers the benefit of being able to lift the crate higher off the ground than the forklift alone could have lifted it. It also allows the crate to be moved in an arc around the forklift, either by swiveling the crane's boom or by turning the forklift. Depending on the size and weight of the object being carried, the forklift may also be able to carry it across a warehouse while it is being lifted by the crane.

There are a few disadvantages to using a forklift crane as opposed to a standard crane. These devices must usually remain at an incline of under 40 degrees to the horizon. The boom usually needs to be relatively short as well, because a long boom with a heavy crate at the end could cause the forklift to fall over.

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