What Is A Level Luffing Crane And How It Works

Level luffing cranes are commonly used in construction sites and shipyards. They can perform various types of load lifting and installation tasks. Follow this guide to learn more about level luffing cranes before going to crane rentals.

What Is A Level Luffing Crane?

A level luffing crane has a hook that stays in the same place and the jib attached to it moves inward or outward for luffing. This makes a level luffing crane an ideal piece of equipment for moving loads horizontally that are close to the ground with maximum safety.

Therefore, they are preferred in shipbuilding and shipyards. Moreover, they are also used in construction for safe movement and areas where the space is restricted.

How A Luffing Crane Works?

Older luffing cranes used the Toplis design. In this mechanism, the jib moved similarly upward and downward. However, the hook was kept leveled by mechanical wires and pulleys. When a jib was moved upward, more wires were released using pulleys to keep the level of the hook the same. And when the jib was moved downward, more wires were pulled back for the purpose of keeping the hook stable and in the same place.

In modern-level luffing cranes, horse-head jibs are used. This horse-head section is added on top of the job. This can streamline the luffing and horizontal movement process.

Moreover, now level luffing cranes have control systems that can winch the cable connect to the hoist and move it to keep the level of the hook the same.

Plus, some level luffing cranes can be equipped with electronic controls that give near-perfect control over the elevation of the hook and where it’s required to be.

Advantages Of Level Luffing Cranes

Inner City Construction

As level luffing cranes don’t require too much space for operation and can keep a load in a heightened position, they are significantly important for inner city constructions. There are different cranes that can lift a load and keep it lifted. The best example can be flat-top cranes. However, they are required to be parallel to the project and to the correct radius of the jib.

Therefore, level luffing cranes at better at it because the jib of the luffing crane doesn’t need to be near the ground and it can stand in a vertical position up in the air. However, it should be in at least a 5-meter radius from the mass section.

Increased Productivity

Many times, luffing cranes are used as auxiliary cranes for tower cranes. With this addition to tower cranes, the material handling cycles will increase. This will, in turn, reduce the construction time and the project will go as scheduled.

Freight Loading

The safe horizontal movements of weights enable luffing job cranes to be used for freight loading and other related jobs.

Construction Of Ships

The nature of how luffing cranes work makes them suitable for shipbuilding as well.

Disadvantages Of Level Luffing Cranes

Not Suitable For Wide Spaces

We mentioned earlier that luffing cranes are preferred in construction sites with tight spaces. Even though they are excellent for inner city construction and shipbuilding, they are not preferred in construction projects where space requirements are not strict and there is space for other types of cranes to perform the tasks of a luffing crane.

The reason is that luffing cranes perform horizontal movements safely, but they require a fair amount of time to perform the movements. Many times, luffing cranes have mechanical functions that let them raise a load in the required way.

Therefore, if there is more space for movements in the construction sites, other types of cranes are used. Without space restrictions, flat-top cranes are considered faster than level-luffing cranes. This is because flat-top cranes can be set to a required radius. After this, the rope needs to be reeled down for lifting a load to the required height. After this, a trolley needs to be moved for quick and safe horizontal movement.

As luffing cranes don’t feature a trolley, the movements of the jib are carefully used for the process and it takes a lot of time.

Types Of Tower Cranes

Luffing jib tower cranes are useful for many reasons. So, if you’re interested in luffing jib tower cranes, you should also into other types of tower cranes so you can decide which tower is best suited for your project when considering renting them from crane services VA.

Hammerhead Cranes

They are in an inverted L shape. Hammerhead cranes have a jib that extends to one end of the mast and can rotate 360 degrees around its mast. This is required because the jib of hammerhead cranes has a hook and trolley that is used for lifting loads.

After setting the radius of the hammerhead for correctly lifting a weight, the hook is lowered for lifting a weight and after the lift, the trolley can be moved along the jib to reach the desired location. Hammerhead cranes also don’t change the level of the height of the load. Once the hook is up, it can be kept to any height and the trolley can be moved for the horizontal movement of the load.

This results in safe and accurate handling of massive loads and can move a large volume of loads in a considerably short amount of time. Hammerhead cranes are also known as flat-top cranes or topless cranes.

They are mostly used in places where a luffing jib crane is too slow for the project. However, this is possible only when the construction site is not tight or doesn’t have restrictions on the usage of space around the site.

Luffing tower cranes and hammerhead cranes both have high load-lifting capacities. However, luffing cranes usually take the lead in lifting heavier loads.

Those cranes that have an A shape on the top are called A-frame tower cranes. You can use a flat-top or an A-frame hammerhead crane as your project demands. However, flat-top cranes are preferred for projects where multiple tower cranes are used.

Self-Erecting Tower Cranes

These cranes are lighter in weight than luffing and hammerhead cranes. With these cranes, you will notice a horizontal jib and mast like a hammerhead crane, but they are mounted to a ballast. This enables the crane to fold and unfold on the site.

The biggest benefit of self-erecting tower cranes is that they are more easily transportable than luffing and hammerhead cranes. Moreover, they are also easier to fold and unfold as the name suggests.

However, the portability of these cranes comes with a cost. These cranes have a lower maximum load capacity in comparison to hammerhead and luffing cranes.

However, if your construction site requires a tower crane that does not need to lift too heavy loads and can be erected, dismantled multiple times during the project, or need to be transported, then self-erecting cranes are ideal for you.


Luffing cranes have various unique aspects that give them a popular spot in the list of cranes for construction projects, shipbuilding, and freight loading/unloading. In construction projects, they are most used in metro and inner-city areas where other types of tower cranes are unable to function.

For selecting luffing cranes or any other type of tower crane, make sure to check your project requirements and consult crane for rent DC companies that can provide reliable tower cranes with the latest features.