Materials in Motion

Material Handling Basics: What is a Jib Crane?

A jib crane is a type of overhead lifting device that is frequently used in smaller work cell areas for unique and repetitive lifting tasks. Jib cranes are exceptionally adaptable and can be paired with overhead bridge cranes to maximize production. Jib cranes can lift and move loads weighing up to 30,000 pounds.

Jib cranes are helpful in production environments because they improve safety, increase worker productivity, and reduce workplace injuries. They are typically easy to operate, and they usually require little maintenance thanks to their relatively simple design.


Jib cranes contain several basic design features, which vary between different types of jib cranes; these features are the boom, the mast, and the hoist. The boom is the horizontal beam that extends from the support and holds the load. The mast is the vertical beam or pipe steel that supports the boom and allows the system to rotate. The moveable hoist is used to lift, position, and lower a load.

Another component of most jib cranes is the trolley. The trolley can have manual, motorized, or pneumatic motion, carrying the hoist, wire rope or chain, and the hook through the entire length of the boom. The rotation can vary depending on the type of jib crane. Wall-mounted and column-mounted jib cranes offer 180-200 degrees of rotation, and freestanding and mast-style jib cranes can achieve 360 degrees of boom rotation. Additionally, electric or pneumatic power can be added to the mast to provide rotation assistance and allow for a continuous 360-degree boom rotation.

A push-button controller can be used on motorized or air-powered jib systems to control the rotation of the boom, in addition to the motion of the trolley and the lifting and lowering hoist motion. Variable speed controls and multi-speed controls can be used for the hoist and trolley.

Rotation stops limit the crane’s motion before it collides with a nearby object. Rotation stops are crucial if the crane is located close to a wall or other obstruction.

Spanco Jib Cranes

Spanco Jib Cranes are available in hundreds of pre-engineered standard designs with capacities from 100 pounds to five tons and custom-engineered solutions with capacities up to 15 tons. These jib cranes can be used to hand off materials between multiple adjacent workstations. Spanco Articulating Jib Cranes include booms with two axes, so they can reach around obstacles. Spanco Wall-Mounted Jib Cranes, Ceiling or Wall-Mounted Articulating Jib Cranes, and Wall- Traveling Jib Cranes require no floor space. They can quickly fold out of the way of overhead cranes.

Spanco also offers Portable Base Jib Cranes that use a counterweight portable base design to allow the systems to be moved by forklift as needed. Spanco Jib Cranes can even be used outdoors, if weatherized. With variants in degrees of rotation, mounting-style, beam type, and overall dimensions, Spanco’s Jib Cranes are a great option for nearly any type of application.