A gantry crane is a crane built atop a gantry, which is a structure used to straddle an object or workspace. They can range from enormous "full" gantry cranes, capable of lifting some of the heaviest loads in the world, to small shop cranes, used for tasks such as lifting automobile engines out of vehicles. They are also called portal cranes, the "portal" being the empty space straddled by the gantry.
The terms gantry crane and overhead crane (or bridge crane) are often used interchangeably, as both types of crane straddle their workload. The distinction most often drawn between the two is that with gantry cranes, the entire structure (including gantry) is usually wheeled (often on rails). By contrast, the supporting structure of an overhead crane is fixed in location, often in the form of the walls or ceiling of a building, to which is attached a movable hoist running overhead along a rail or beam (which may itself move). Further confusing the issue is that gantry cranes may also incorporate a movable beam-mounted hoist in addition to the entire structure being wheeled, and some overhead cranes are suspended from a freestanding gantry.
Ship-to-shore gantry cranes are imposing, multi-story structures prominent at most container terminals, used to load intermodal containers on and off container ships. They operate along two rails (waterside and landside designations) spaced based on the size of crane to be used.
Lateral movement system:
Vertical frame and braces:
Ship-to-shore gantry cranes are often used in pairs or teams of cranes in order to minimize the time required to load and unload vessels. As container ship sizes and widths have increased throughout the 20th Century, ship-to-shore gantry cranes and the implementation of those gantry cranes have become more individualized in order to effectively load and unload vessels while maximizing profitability and minimizing time in port. One example are systems where specialized berths are built that accommodate one vessel at a time with ship-to-shore gantry cranes on both sides of the vessel. This allows for more cranes and double the workspace under the cranes to be used for transporting cargo off dock.
The first quayside container gantry crane was developed in 1959 by Paceco Corporation.
Full gantry cranes (where the load remains beneath the gantry structure, supported from a beam) are well suited to lifting massive objects such as ships' engines, as the entire structure can resist the torque created by the load, and counterweights are generally not required. These are often found in shipyards where they are used to move large ship components together for construction. They use a complex system of cables and attachments to support the massive loads undertaken by the full gantry cranes.
Some full gantry cranes of note are Samson and Goliath and Taisun. Samson and Goliath are two full gantry cranes located in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. They have spans of 140 metres (460 ft) and can lift loads of up to 840 tonnes (830 long tons; 930 short tons) to a height of 70 metres (230 ft). In 2008, the world's strongest gantry crane, Taisun, which can lift 20,000 tonnes (19,700 long tons; 22,000 short tons), was installed in Yantai, China at the Yantai Raffles Shipyard. In 2012, a 22,000-tonne (21,700-long-ton; 24,300-short-ton) capacity crane, the "Honghai Crane" was planned for construction in Qidong City, China and was finished in 2014.
Smaller gantry cranes are also available running on rubber tyres so that tracks are not needed. Rubber tyred gantry cranes are essential for moving containers from berths throughout the rest of the yard. For this task they come in large sizes, as pictured to the left, that are used for moving to straddle multiple lanes of rail, road, or container storage. They also are capable of lifting fully loaded containers to great heights. Smaller rubber tyred gantry cranes come in the form of straddle carriers which are used when moving individual containers or vertical stacks of containers. Portable gantry crane systems, such as rubber tyred gantry cranes, are in high demand in terminals and ports restricted in size and reliant on maximizing vertical space and not needing to haul containers long distances. This is due to the relatively slow speed yet high reach of rubber tyred gantry cranes when compared to other forms of container terminal equipment.
Portable gantry cranes are used to lift and transport smaller items, usually less than 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons). They are widely used in the HVAC, machinery moving and fine art installation industries. Some portable gantry cranes are equipped with an enclosed track, while others use an I-beam, or other extruded shapes, for the running surface. Most workstation gantry cranes are intended to be stationary when loaded, and mobile when unloaded. Workstation Gantry Cranes can be outfitted with either a wire rope hoist or a lower capacity chain hoist.
Gantry cranes are usually used to service unsheltered (rarely sheltered) storage sites, mainly for single-piece cargos, containers, and timber cargo, to assemble ready-built manufacturing and civil facilities, maintain hydroelectric power stations and stacked assembly in shipbuilding. Cranes are mainly equipped with hooks or special cargo lifting gear. Their cargo carrying capacity is 3-50 tons, while it reaches 400-800 tons for maintaining hydroelectric power stations and shipbuilding ways. Crane movement is often operational; self-moving electric pulley blocks are used as a load carrier with low lifting capacities. Portals with a stationary height are often used for repeated processes, including loading and unloading works. These portals could be located on the road or a particular site where they are going to be used. These types of portal tend to have a high carrying capacity. To assemble large-sized units (for example, in shipbuilding), cranes with two load carriers are used, which enables the workers rotate a suspended cargo. Construction cranes for a mobile construction site are self-erected.
Gantry cranes for Hydroelectric Power Stations (HEPS). Specialized cranes used to assemble and maintain HEPS turbine halls are known for their large lifting capacity (100-500 tons) with relatively small spans. They are divided into:
They could also be:
Gantry cranes perform the following operations in HEPS:
Honghai Crane is the most powerful gantry crane in the world, it could lift 22 000 tons to the height of 65 meters. It is located in Jiangsu.
A ZPMC gantry crane used for construction of the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
A primitive gantry crane to put a stagecoach on a flat car. The drawing is exhibited in Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum, Munich, Germany.
1 short ton (0.89 long tons; 0.91 t) capacity portable gantry crane
Gantry crane at the site of the Homestead Steel Works in Pennsylvania, U.S.