How to Set-Up a Tower Crane

Tower cranes are an important tool for construction projects. Thanks to their durability and height, they can easily hoist and transport items. However, they can be slightly difficult to put together, especially if you haven’t done so before. Below you’ll discover a few steps you can follow to safely assemble a tower crane. 

Types of Tower Cranes

There are six main forms of tower cranes. 


This type is the most frequently used and is known for its large tower that has a tiny cab running through the masts. 


A Derrick tower crane is small and designed specifically for compact areas. Unlike other tower cranes, this one doesn’t need an additional foundation. 

7 Liebherr 200 EC-H tower cranes used for the construction of The Hills, a four-tower development in Dubai.

Luffing Jib

Luffing jib tower cranes use a diagonal arm that extends from the very top of them. Because of this crane’s unique weight distribution, it can easily hold massive loads. 


Self-supporting tower cranes are used for tasks that don’t require substantial height. While they need to be anchored to the ground, this type can safely rotate to pick up items. 


A self-climbing tower crane requires a strong concrete base to keep it stable as it slowly grows upward to reach the necessary height. Once it reaches the correct peak, the device will be attached to a nearby structure. 


This tower crane is commonly utilized in large projects that need to move loads quickly. Traveling tower cranes are usually track-mounted and move loads horizontally along the masts. 

5 Steps to Install a Tower Crane

Step 1 – Find the Right Location

To begin this process, you’ll want to search for the right placement. If you position the tower crane in a place that’s too small or near electrical wires, you risk it falling apart or ripping down the cables. In most cases, there are strict manufacturing rules that need to be followed, such as placing the tower crane at least 10-feet away from power lines. 

You’ll want to make sure the tower crane is in a somewhat open space so it can freely move side-to-side. You’ll also need to keep wind patterns in mind. If you place the tower crane in a strong current, it will stress the machine and could cause it to topple over. To prevent this, research the area and check local guidelines. 

Step 2 – Build the Foundation

The second step to building a tower crane is to create its foundation. This is one of the most crucial steps because it’s what sustains the crane and keeps it sturdy during the job. 

Liebherr 1000 EC-H 50 Litronic

For most tower cranes, you’ll find this information embedded in its technical data. This will guide you through the precise dimensions so you can determine the right jib length. Other key details to check in the data include:

  • The tower crane’s model
  • Its maximum tower height
  • Its initial and final weights
  • The supply voltage
  • The lifting cable branches

Once you figure out the right measurements, you’ll need to dig a five-foot hole and create a concrete block. This block will vary in its dimensions but will usually need to be about 30 x 30 feet. 

After the foundation has been laid, it’s ideal to wait a few days for it to settle. As you stand by, you’ll want to check the base to ensure it isn’t sinking or not settling correctly. If you notice issues, it needs to be redone. 

You’ll want to monitor the base throughout the tower crane’s usage. This way, you can see if its elevation is right and that the tower crane’s weight isn’t overwhelming it. 

Step 3 – Attach the Tower to the Foundation

The next thing you’ll need to do is connect the tower to the foundation. To do this, link the first mast to the base. Most of the time, you’ll need to fasten it to the thick anchor bolts sticking out of the substructure. This will provide adequate support and keep the tower crane flexible but stable.

Once the tower’s first mast is in place, you’ll need to keep stacking the masts until you reach the desired height. 

Step 4 – Add the Slewing Components

When the tower has been properly affixed to the foundation you’ll need to add the slewing assembly. This is composed of various loads that help the tower crane move in different directions. 

Some parts you’ll need to secure during this step include:

  • The horizontal and counter jibs
  • The cab
  • The slewing ring
  • The tower’s top

Step 5 – Adjust the Crane’s Height

The last step is to modify the crane’s height to fit the project. You can increase or decrease the height by using the slewing assembly alongside a hydraulic jack.

How to Check a Tower Crane’s Safety

While these steps will assist you in building a tower crane, it’s still essential to do regular reviews of the device. Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Do Inspections

You’ll want to do consistent inspections of the tower crane. If you notice pieces leaning or small cracks, you need to immediately fix them. These are a sign that the tower crane isn’t steady – something which could lead to a dangerous situation. The cracks could also indicate that the tower crane is hauling loads that exceed its maximum limit. 

To avert these problems, ensure that a licensed technician inspects the tower crane’s limit switches, cables, and brakes before operating it. 

Don’t Run it Alone

It’s also vital that you don’t let the tower crane be controlled alone. There should always be at least two people working the system. Both can keep an eye on it and make sure it’s working accurately. 

Never Leave Hanging Loads

You never want to leave a load hanging from the crane. If you’re unable to use it or if it’s time to call it a day, always lower it back to the ground. By leaving it hanging, it could swing and hit buildings or create excessive tension and eventually fall from the hook. 

Liebherr 42 KR.1 Fast-erecting crane on crawler track travel gear

Tower Crane Certification Courses

To help you better understand how to build this crane and how to protect yourself from potential lawsuits, it might be ideal to take a tower crane certification course. This is led by experts and will guide you through the process. 

Bigfoot Crane Company offers an extensive class. With it, you’ll discover how to inspect tower crane pieces, install them, maintain the structure, and disassemble this construction tool. You’ll also become well-versed in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) codes. 

Setting up a tower crane can be time-consuming, but it’s important to take your time if you want to prevent serious injuries or damages. By using this information, you can safely set one up yourself.