When you should use a mini crane

Emma / 25th August 2021 / Articles

Think of a ‘mini crane’ and you’ll probably just picture a tower crane but on a smaller scale. Mini cranes can do everything a larger crane can do, but in the process can also increase productivity, cut costs, save time, and protect the health and well-being of the people delivering a project.


When we’ve used Mini Cranes

If you’ve never used a mini crane, you might not be aware of the benefits one can bring to your business. However, as experts in the provision of mini cranes, we know that the advantages of working with them extend far beyond the considerable lifting power they offer.


This is reflected in the wide range of sectors, jobs, and circumstances within which a mini crane offers the ideal solution. We sell and hire mini cranes, so you might expect us to say all of that, but we’ve been working in the industry since 1981 and specialising in the provision of mini cranes since 2006. During that time, we’ve seen our equipment used in a vast range of circumstances. So, the proof really comes from our clients.


Some of the jobs were relatively predictable, like lifting panes of glass into place or helping with construction work. However, the versatility of mini-cranes is such that we’ve also worked in niche sectors, like helping to make films, provide entertainment in shopping centres, and taking part in cultural events.


Why choose a Mini Crane?


In simple terms, a mini crane can work safely in a confined space and can handle a multitude of jobs thanks to attachments like winches, jibs, man baskets, and lifting beams.


The sectors and industries we outline below can all be illustrated with examples from our own case studies, demonstrating how our ongoing research and development work is driving innovation in the design, manufacture, and application of mini cranes.


Glass Pane Handling


Handling panes of glass is a complicated process at the best of times, thanks to the non-porous nature of the surface of the glass, which makes it difficult to grip and lift. Not to mention the risk of a large pane of glass falling from height and breaking.


The advantage of a mini crane is that it combines a vacuum lifter and hydraulic manipulators, capable of shifting the pane into any position needed with a small footprint and complete stability. The fact that the crane can be operated via remote control from a distance ensures the safety of the operator and anyone else on-site. The size of the crane also makes it the ideal solution for working in interior spaces – such as shopping centres – which offer limited space.


Our case study of the use of a Jekko SPX424 by the company Sky Bespoke Glass illustrates many of the advantages of working with a mini crane. The job in question involved lifting larger-than-usual double glazed units into place in a busy commercial street in London. The SPX424 was able to lift the pane into place while taking up minimal space on what was a very busy pavement. In addition to this, the work was completed quickly, keeping disruption for commuters and neighbouring businesses down to a minimum.




The use of mini cranes in construction is bolstered by their versatility. The afore-mentioned glass pane handling would obviously be extremely useful in a variety of construction scenarios, while the small footprint of the average mini-crane means they can lift the heavyweight objects and structural components involved in construction.


While a larger crane may be deemed suitable for an outdoor site boasting plenty of space, the nature of construction work is such that access is often restricted. This is when the versatility and lifting power of a mini crane comes into its own, delivering results in spaces that larger cranes would be completely unable to operate in.


The use of two Jekko SPX 1275 mini cranes on a project by James Alexander Engineering Ltd is a case in point. The job involved lifting the two halves of a pedestrian bridge to a position high above a shopping floor in the interior of the Bentall Shopping Centre, Surrey.


The sections of the bridge were each 7 metres long and weighed 1500kg, so the cranes used had to pack a considerable amount of lifting power. The main difficulty created by the location of the pedestrian bridge was a lack of access. The service doors through which the cranes had to enter the centre gave a clearance of just 10mm for each of the units, while narrow corridors meant that a mini crane like the Jekko SPX 1275 was the only viable option.


Industrial Maintenance


Industrial maintenance is a task that continues more or less around the clock in a host of different settings. These could include outdoor situations such as sports grounds, leisure parks, cemeteries, and railway lines. As well as indoor spaces like the shopping centre mentioned previously or schools, airports, and museums.


In short, any space in which tools, equipment, and operatives have to be lifted to height safely could call for the use of a mini-crane. Whether that be tightening the bolts on an overhead railway line to safely cutting down the branches of a tree blocking light from a schoolroom.


What many of the scenarios have in common is the perennial lack of access and the fact that the work will often have to be carried out on irregular terrain. A mini crane, such as the Jekko SPX532, is equipped with outriggers that automatically stabilise on uneven terrain, making it safe to operate in the widest possible range of scenarios.


In indoor situations, the ground may be flat, but other questions arise, such as the noise and emissions created by a crane working at capacity to lift heavy objects to or from a great height. This is just one more question which mini cranes can answer. Jekko offers the option of battery-powered cranes, like the SPX1280, delivering emission and noise-free operation without any diminishing in the power on offer.


The work carried out by two Jekko SPX 1275 cranes within a food factory in Histon, Cambridgeshire, illustrate another situation where a mini crane can be used indoors with minimal pollution.


The fact that the building in question was a functioning food preparation plant meant that dangerous emissions had to be avoided altogether, while the task in hand involved lifting an overhead crane as part of a refurbishment.


Other Scenarios


Specialised industries such as mining, nuclear, and drilling are other sectors where the precision, close control, and stability of a mini-crane is incredibly useful. We’ve also seen our mini cranes utilised to deliver tasks such as supporting equipment during the filming of Spiderman 2 in New York,  suspending a pianist and grand piano four metres above the floor of a shopping centre in Italy, and performing maintenance work at the otherwise unreachable mountain top position of a ski-lift.


No matter your situation or sector, a mini crane is always worth considering. So, if you’re looking to renovate a building, build a shopping centre, or even film an upcoming movie – we’d love to hear from you.