Driver Knowledge Tests

What is a truck-mounted crane or truck loader crane?

Truck-mounted crane and truck loader crane refer to a truck which has a crane either at the rear or just behind that cab which is used to load and unload goods from the truck’s deck. It’s sometimes called a Hiab after the original manufacturer. It’s different to a mobile crane which doesn’t carry anything other than equipment used to rig and lift loads.

Types of truck-mounted crane

You can see on the right a knuckle boom truck-mounted crane. It has two booms and a fixed hook at the end of the outer boom
This is a single-boom crane. The main boom extends and a hook on cables is used to adjust the height of the load.

Single-boom cranes are frequently used for vehicle recovery. They don’t have the flexibility to get into difficult spaces that knuckle boom cranes do. A knuckle boom crane can reach into spaces, for example, a fourth-floor window, as there is the extra articulation in the boom.

Advantages of a truck loader crane

A truck-mounted crane is very flexible:

  • If the crane isn’t needed, it’s still useful as a truck and can be loaded using a forklift
  • They provide easy access to worksites
  • If the capacity is less than 10 tonnes, they can be operated with the appropriate truck licence (cranes over 10 tonnes require the operator to have a Vehicle Loading Crane high-risk work licence, unless they are supervised by a licence vehicle loading crane operator).
  • It’s cheaper than a dedicated mobile crane
  • It can have attachments added to it for extra versatility, e.g. augers and personnel cages.

How is a truck loader crane controlled?

Power is provided to the crane using the power take-off or PTO.

Most newer truck loader cranes have controls mounted on either side of the vehicle and a remote control unit that enables the operator to observe the load from a safe distance.

The remote control enables the operator to do most things, other than deploy the outriggers

The driver of the truck can operate the crane, firstly by deploying the outriggers.

The crane on a truck loader crane is only designed for lifting items on and off the truck itself. A crane rating chart describes the limitations of the crane.

The crane rating chart shows that the maximum the crane can lift when the boom is fully extended is 1040kg when the boom is horizontal, compared to a theoretical maximum of 5850kg, assuming the outriggers are fully extended.

How are truck loader cranes used?

Some examples of how they are used are:

  • Loading materials at building sites – bricks, timber framing, etc
  • Recovering or delivering vehicles and machinery
  • Loading concrete pipes
  • Digging holes using an auger for power poles, then lifting the power pole in place
  • Inspection of elevated structures and power lines using a personnel cage
  • Lifting scrap metal using a grab attachment
  • Self-loading raw logs.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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