What is the Difference Between a Bridge Crane and a Gantry Crane?

July 20, 2021 - "Capabilities "

Why do you need to know the difference between a bridge crane and a gantry crane?

Bridge cranes and gantry cranes have a lot in common. Because they’re so similar we should wonder, “Why do I need to learn the difference?”

It’s a good question, and one that could save you a lot of time and money.

By understanding the differences between bridge cranes and gantry cranes you will be able to make the right buying decision for your company. You will feel confident and save time and money.

Another added benefit of knowing the subtle differences between bridge cranes and gantry cranes is the confidence you’ll portray to your customers.

I personally wouldn’t go to a mechanic that doesn’t know the difference between a socket wrench and a combination wrench. They might do similar things but use the wrong one, and they’ll spend more time working, which will cost me more money.

Don’t be that mechanic! Understand not only the difference between these two similar cranes, but also why one is more efficient than the other for your needs.


Overhead Bridge Crane


Gantry Crane

What are the differences?

Bridge cranes and gantry cranes have a lot of similarities, but knowing their differences is where you will either save lots of money or lose it.

Below are the three most significant differences that will directly affect your business and your buying decision.



The most obvious difference between these two cranes is how they are mounted.

Bridge cranes are mounted inside of the building they operate in. This makes them great for warehouse type factories that are often crowded and where every inch of space is valuable.

Gantry cranes are typically on wheels or mounted to a track system . Because they’re not mounted to the structure of the building, they are much easier to disassemble and move elsewhere. The gantry cranes on wheels are especially mobile. They can be moved inside or outside whenever needed.


Lifting Capacity

The benefit by having a big crane mounted to the structure of your building is you can lift some really heavy objects with ease. Bridge cranes take the cake when it comes to heavy duty lifting. Some bridge cranes are rated for up to one hundred tons! That is a lot of material.

Gantry cranes are not as capable when it comes to lifting. They can still lift heavy loads, usually going up to 15 tons, but that is a far shot away from the 100 ton limit on some bridge cranes.



Now, all that lifting power does not come cheap. Bridge cranes will set you back at least fifteen thousand dollars and can go over one hundred thousand dollars if you want one of the strongest bridge cranes.

Gantry cranes start as little as two thousand dollars and go up from there. You’ll be hard pressed to find a gantry crane that is priced at a hundred thousand dollars like some bridge cranes. This is a huge selling point for gantry cranes and one you’ll want to pay attention to if you’re in the market for either of these cranes.


What Are the Similarities?

All types of overhead cranes have some things in common. In case you need a refresher on how a bridge crane or gantry crane works, the following points will help you.



The basic function of both bridge cranes and gantry cranes is to lift heavy objects.

Because of how overhead cranes are built, they can reliably lift objects that are very heavy in a way that is safer than many lifting alternatives.



Now you might be wondering, how do these cranes lift such heavy objects?

That is where the hoist comes in.

The hoist is like the muscle of the crane. It does the lifting. The more powerful the hoist, the more it can lift.

Without diving too deep into the mechanics of hoists, you can think of a hoist working similarly to a car winch.


Support or girder

If the hoist is the muscle of the crane, then the girder would be the bone structure.

The girder is the beam on which the hoist rests. Specifically, this girder is called the bridge girder. On both bridge and gantry cranes it is called the bridge girder.

Both bridge cranes and gantry cranes will have this main girder which supports the hoist, but as mentioned above the mounting or support for the bridge girder will be different depending on the type of crane.



Okay, so here is where things get weird.

The bridge on a crane includes the bridge girder, and all of the parts that allow the hoist to travel side to side.

You would think that a bridge crane would have a bridge where a gantry crane would not.


But they both have a bridge. The main distinction between the two is how that bridge is mounted. Either to the structure of a building in the case of the bridge crane or on legs as in the case of the gantry crane.

So don’t be fooled, both bridge cranes and gantry cranes have bridges!

This also means that their hoists move the same. The hoist can move side to side on either crane.



The way you get those hoists move side to side on both bridge and gantry cranes is usually the same.

Usually you will have some type of radio controller or pendant controller that is connected to the bridge.


Which one do you need?

By now you should have a good understanding of the differences and similarities between bridge cranes and gantry cranes.

It’s a lot of information to take in, so you might still be unsure of what will best suit your needs.

Well some of the obvious factors you’ll want to consider are your lifting needs, your workspace mounting options, and your budget.


Lifting Needs

If you need to lift extremely heavy objects that are over 15 tons, then you’ll probably want to go with a bridge crane.

If you only need to lift things under 5 tons then it might make more sense to go with a lightweight gantry crane.


Mounting Options

If your workspace floor is completely filled or you need all the floor space available, while still needing a crane, then the bridge crane is the better option.

Maybe you need something that is portable, or that can allow you to work outside. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to go with a gantry crane.



Lastly, you will need to consider your budget.

A gantry crane might tick a lot of boxes for you, but a very heavy duty gantry crane might cost you more than a light bridge crane with similar lifting capability.

Or if entry level bridge cranes are too expensive, a gantry crane may be the only option that fits your budget.



By now you should have a confident grasp on what defines a bridge crane and gantry crane, and most importantly how to decide on which one for your business.

Lifting needs, mounting options, and budget should all be considered before you make a final decision.  If you still feel unsure you can always contact a sales representative at PWI and get a free quote.  PWI will make sure you get a crane that will fit your business needs.

At the end of the day deciding between these two cranes will not only affect your business, but also the confidence you can relay to your customers.


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