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A gantry crane is a type of overhead crane. With a gantry crane, the supports holding the crane up are fixed in location. They cannot move, and therefore the crane cannot move. For this reason, everything that the crane is going to lift must be brought to the crane. The supports form a large rectangular frame upon which the crane can move forward and back, and left and right. Anything that can be reached by the gantry crane is referred to as being in its operating area.
Gantry cranes are very common in factories, where they are used to move things along the factory floor as the product is slowly assembled. For instance, if one is building a large metal piece of equipment, the metal parts may arrive on a truck. The truck will park within the operating area of the gantry crane, and the gantry crane can then be used to unload the parts. The gantry crane may also be used to move the parts around, typically along the assembly line as the components are assembled. Once the item is complete, the gantry crane can be used to load the finished part back onto a truck so that it can be removed from the factory.
Take a child to a factory, and he or she will almost certainly want to operate the gantry crane. It just looks like so much fun! However, since the gantry crane can be used to lift very heavy weights, the operator must receive special training in the proper operation of the crane and lifting techniques, and may even be required to have an operating license.
Each gantry crane is designed to be able to lift only to a maximum amount, and that weight cannot be exceeded. Moving a heavy weight on the end of a long cable can also provide unique challenges that the operator must be aware of and know how to handle. Unfortunately for the child you bring along to the factory, these safety concerns mean that he or she will not be able to operate the crane.