Difference Between Mobile Cranes and Tower Cranes - Alwaha Corporation

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Difference Between Mobile Cranes and Tower Cranes

Cranes play a vital role in the construction industry, enabling the lifting and movement of heavy materials and equipment with ease. Two commonly used types of cranes are mobile cranes and tower cranes. While both serve the same purpose, they differ significantly in their design, capabilities, and applications.

In this blog, we will explore the key differences between mobile cranes and tower cranes, helping you understand which type is best suited for your specific construction project.

1. Mobility and Portability:

Mobile cranes are designed for easy transportation between job sites. They are mounted on trucks or crawlers, equipped with powerful engines that allow them to move on public roads and rough terrains with ease. This mobility eliminates the need for additional transportation equipment, making them a cost-effective and time-efficient choice for projects that require frequent relocation. Mobile cranes can quickly traverse highways and access remote job sites, saving valuable time and reducing transportation costs.

The portability of mobile cranes enables them to cater to a wide range of lifting tasks across various locations. They are well-suited for projects with dynamic requirements, such as road construction, building maintenance, and disaster relief operations. Construction companies often opt for mobile cranes when they need a crane that can handle diverse tasks and adapt to different job site conditions. The ability to move swiftly between locations ensures that mobile cranes can be readily available whenever and wherever their lifting services are needed.

While tower cranes lack the mobility of their mobile counterparts, they compensate for it with their stability and endurance at a fixed location. Tower cranes are typically erected at the start of a large construction project and remain in place throughout its duration. Once installed, they become a permanent fixture on the job site, providing continuous and reliable lifting services.

Tower cranes are most commonly used in high-rise construction projects, where lifting heavy materials and equipment to significant heights is a routine requirement. Their exceptional lifting heights and long horizontal jibs allow them to cover a vast area without the need to move or reposition the crane. This capability makes them indispensable for constructing tall buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure projects.

2. Height and Lifting Capacity:

Mobile cranes come in various sizes and configurations, offering different lifting capacities to accommodate diverse project needs. They are capable of lifting loads ranging from a few tons to several hundred tons, depending on their size and specifications. However, their maximum lifting height is relatively limited compared to tower cranes.

The telescopic boom of a mobile crane allows it to extend to a certain height, making it suitable for mid-rise buildings, infrastructure installations, and most on-site lifting tasks. For projects that require lifting materials and equipment to considerable heights, mobile cranes may not always be the ideal choice.

Despite their height limitations, mobile cranes compensate for their versatility and mobility. Their ability to move easily between job sites and quickly set up for lifting operations makes them valuable assets for projects with diverse lifting requirements and multiple locations.

Tower cranes are renowned for their impressive lifting heights, making them the preferred choice for high-rise construction projects. They can reach towering heights of over 200 meters (650 feet) or more, enabling them to handle the heavy lifting demands of multi-story buildings and skyscrapers.

The long horizontal jib of a tower crane allows it to extend far beyond its base, covering a wide area on the construction site. This expansive reach is particularly advantageous in projects where materials need to be lifted to great distances, such as high-rise buildings, large bridges, and other infrastructure development.

Due to their exceptional lifting height and reach, tower cranes can handle heavy loads at significant elevations with ease. The counterweights and stable mast structure provide the necessary stability to lift and place materials at great heights safely and accurately.

3. Stabilization and Footprint:

Mobile cranes typically use outriggers for stabilization during lifting operations. Outriggers are extendable legs that are deployed from the crane’s chassis to create a wider support base. These outriggers play a crucial role in enhancing the crane’s stability by distributing the load’s weight over a larger area.

When the mobile crane arrives at the job site, the outriggers are deployed to secure the crane firmly on the ground. This ensures that the crane remains stable and balanced while lifting heavy loads. Proper deployment of outriggers is essential for safe and efficient lifting, as it prevents the crane from tipping over due to unbalanced loads or uneven terrain.

However, the deployment of outriggers requires adequate space around the crane. In congested or confined job sites, finding sufficient space for outriggers can be challenging, limiting the use of mobile cranes in such situations.

Tower cranes, being fixed structures, do not require outriggers for stabilization. Their stability is inherent in their design and installation. Tower cranes are secured to a concrete foundation, providing a solid and stable base for lifting operations.

The vertical mast of a tower crane offers exceptional stability, allowing it to handle heavy loads at great heights without the risk of tipping. Additionally, the concrete ballast counterbalances the crane’s weight, ensuring safe and precise lifting even when handling substantial loads.

The absence of outriggers makes tower cranes more suitable for congested urban areas and job sites with limited space. The compact footprint of tower cranes allows them to operate efficiently without disrupting surrounding activities or traffic.

4. Versatility and Flexibility:

Mobile cranes are known for their versatility, making them suitable for a wide range of lifting tasks. They come in various sizes and configurations, allowing construction companies to choose the most appropriate crane for their specific project requirements.

The ability of mobile cranes to travel between job sites quickly and efficiently makes them highly adaptable to dynamic project needs. They can handle diverse tasks such as material handling, equipment installation, and general lifting operations, making them indispensable in various construction projects.

Due to their mobility, mobile cranes are often used in road construction, building maintenance, and emergency response operations. When unexpected lifting needs arise, mobile cranes can be swiftly deployed to provide the required lifting solutions.

The flexibility of mobile cranes extends to their maneuverability on job sites. They can navigate through tight spaces and challenging terrains, making them suitable for both urban and remote construction sites. Their compact size and efficient setup allow for smooth operations in confined areas where space is limited.

Tower cranes, while fixed at a single location, offer unmatched lifting heights and reach, making them highly effective in specific construction scenarios. They are most commonly utilized in long-term projects where continuous and repetitive lifting is required from a fixed position.

The expansive horizontal jib of tower cranes allows them to cover a vast area on the construction site without the need for repositioning. This feature makes tower cranes an excellent choice for large-scale projects like high-rise buildings, bridges, and infrastructure development.

5. Set-up and Dismantling:

 Mobile cranes have a relatively quick set-up time, allowing them to be ready for lifting operations shortly after arriving at the job site. Dismantling the crane for transportation to the next site is also straightforward and time-efficient.

The installation of tower cranes is a complex and time-consuming process. It involves assembling the crane’s components, including the mast, jib, and counterweights, and securing them to a stable concrete foundation. Dismantling a tower crane requires significant effort and time as well.


Mobile cranes offer mobility and versatility, making them suitable for projects with multiple locations and shorter durations. On the other hand, tower cranes excel in projects requiring high lifting heights and continuous, long-term lifting operations at a fixed location. To determine the best crane for your project, consider factors such as the lifting requirements, height restrictions, available space, and project duration. Choosing the right crane will ensure efficient and safe lifting operations, contributing to the success of your construction endeavor.