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Whether you’re in construction, shipping, or any industry that requires the handling of heavy loads, a crane is an indispensable tool. This powerful machine simplifies tasks and speeds up processes, but its operation requires meticulousness, precision, and above all, safety. One crucial part of the project process is understanding the crane’s capacity, which is all about knowing how much weight it can handle without jeopardizing the operation’s safety. So, how do we ascertain a crane’s capacity? It all starts with understanding the crane load chart. Here’s a breakdown of how to read a load chart and find the perfect crane lifting capacity with help from one of the leading crane companies in Houston.


A crane load chart, also known as a load moment chart, is a graphical or tabular representation provided by heavy crane manufacturers that outlines the maximum weight a crane can lift at different configurations. This critical document also provides additional information like the crane’s range, boom angle, lifting height, and more.

The crane load capacity chart isn’t just a manufacturer’s guide but a legal requirement. In many regions, operating a crane without a thorough understanding of its load chart is considered a violation of safety regulations.


Crane’s maximum lifting capacity: This is usually found at the top of the chart and represents the absolute maximum weight that the crane can lift under perfect conditions. However, a heavy crane lifting operator will rarely operate the crane at its maximum capacity.

Radius: This refers to the horizontal distance from the center of the crane’s rotation to the center of the load. The lifting capacity of the crane decreases as the radius increases.

Load weight: The chart provides lifting capacities for various radii. This helps operators understand how much weight the crane can lift at different distances from its center.

Boom length: The length of the crane’s boom also affects the lifting capacity. Longer booms reduce the crane’s capacity, and the chart provides this information for various boom lengths.

Boom Angle

The boom angle is another key factor when determining crane lifting capacity. This represents the angle between the boom and the horizontal plane. Greater boom angles, up to a certain point, generally increase the crane’s lifting capacity. The crane load chart provides the maximum lifting capacities for various boom angles.

Lift Range

The lift range represents the area within which the crane can lift and move the load. It’s dependent on the crane’s radius and the boom length. A larger lift range often means a lower lifting capacity, and vice versa. The crane load capacity chart provides lift range information in the form of a diagram or table.


A deduction from the crane’s total lifting capacity must be made to account for the weight of rigging equipment such as the hook, slings, spreader bars, etc. This is crucial as overlooking this can lead to overloading the crane. The exact amount of deduction can vary based on equipment used and should be calculated before each lift.

The Bold Line

Within a crane load chart, you might notice a bold line that divides the chart into two zones. This is known as the stability limit or structural limit line. It shows the operator the maximum load that can be lifted at a specific radius for either the crane’s structural strength or stability. The structural strength refers to the crane’s capability to bear the load without any of its components bending or breaking. Stability refers to the crane’s capability to lift a load without tipping over. If a lift requires operating beyond this line, the operation is unsafe and must not be undertaken.


The boom length: The longer the boom, the lower the crane’s load capacity.

Boom angle: The angle between the horizontal plane and the boom also affects the crane’s load capacity.

Lifting range: The horizontal distance from the crane’s rotation center to the load center (radius) impacts the load capacity.

The crane’s configuration: The arrangement of the crane’s movable parts, counterweights, and outriggers can also affect the crane’s load capacity.

Operational conditions: Weather conditions like wind speed, ground stability, and temperature can influence a crane’s load capacity.

Lift Range

The lift range is the area within which the crane can move a load. This is influenced by the crane’s maximum reach (radius) and the boom’s length. A longer boom and larger radius will offer a more extensive lift range. However, this generally comes with a reduced load capacity.

Whether the Crane is in Motion

A crane’s load capacity is often specified for stationary (outrigger) conditions. When a crane is in motion, the dynamic forces increase, reducing the load capacity. For safety, the load capacity when the crane is moving (also known as ‘pick and carry’ capacity) is usually significantly less than when the crane is stationary. Always consult the load chart for specific ‘pick and carry’ capacity and other restrictions when the crane is in motion.

Weight and Dimensions

The weight and dimensions of the load being lifted play an essential role in determining a crane’s capacity. A load that’s heavier or larger than what the crane can safely manage can lead to disastrous consequences. Therefore, you should always know the weight and dimensions of the load before selecting and operating a crane.

Overall Lift Capacity

The overall lift capacity of a crane is determined by considering all of the above factors. This includes the maximum load weight, the length of the boom, the lifting range, whether the crane is stationary or moving, and the weight and dimensions of the load. A safe lift plan involves understanding and respecting all of these factors to operate within the crane’s overall lift capacity.

Contact Bobcat Contracting to Learn More from One of the Leading Crane Companies in Houston

At Bobcat Contracting, we understand that safe and efficient crane operation is crucial to your project’s success. As one of the leading crane companies in Houston, we provide the knowledge, training, and equipment necessary for safe and efficient crane operations. Our team of experienced professionals is always ready to provide guidance and share our in-depth knowledge.

We offer a variety of crane services, including crane rentals, crane riggingheavy haul trucking, and more. For more information or to discuss your project’s specific needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.