Rough Terrain Cranes: A Definition

rough terrain cranes

From a general standpoint, most of us understand what a rough terrain crane (RT) is. We see them working when we pass construction sites on our way to the office, their compact frames and knobby tires climbing over uneven terrain until they find the perfect (or even not-so-perfect) spot to set their outriggers. They don’t mind getting a little muddy!

RTs have been called the “crescent wrench” of the crane industry and the “extra tool in the shed.” And in today’s fast-moving construction world, they’re found everywhere.

Rough Terrain Cranes Don’t Have a Standard Definition

Even so, finding a standard definition for a rough terrain crane is difficult. A Google search will take you to a Wikipedia listing that gets a few of the characteristics right, but it ultimately falls short of being an authority on the subject.

ASME’s B30.5 design standard only labels RTs as a wheel-mounted crane with telescoping boom. OSHA calls them a lifting device incorporating a cable suspended latticed boom or hydraulic telescopic boom designed to be moved between operating locations by transport over the road.

Most people in the crane business can probably agree that rough terrain cranes must:

  • have the ability to access and work in confined lifting areas
  • be able to travel on un-improved work sites
  • feature one cab from which the crane is operated and driven

Tadano has been manufacturing rough terrain cranes since the 1970’s. As the largest manufacturer of rough terrain cranes in the world, we feel qualified to lay out a working definition based on these qualities:

A rough terrain crane is a multi-purpose-use crane that is uniquely designed to access and perform work in confined lifting areas, has the ability to travel and work on un-improved work sites and is operated and driven from only one cab. Over-sized tires, a short wheel base, and crab steering all contribute to overall maneuverability.

Redefining Expectations

Rough terrain cranes certainly boast a range of capabilities and technologies across manufacturers. For example, Tadano’s exclusive asymmetrical outrigger feature is designed to offer maximum “work value” when lifting over each area of the crane.

They have also come a long way since the small cab-down “neck breakers” of the 1950’s. More capacity and better operator assist features mean only good things for crane owners and operators alike.

Recognizing that there is always a need for innovation, Tadano introduced the industry’s largest rough terrain crane with the 160 ton GR-1600XL. Because it’s one thing to know a definition. It’s another thing to redefine it.

Got an addition you’d like to make to our definition? Post in the comments section below and let us know!

Categories: Rough Terrain

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