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What Is A Monorail Crane? Pricing, Best Applications, and Design Considerations

Monorail cranes offer increased productivity and employee safety for those working in smaller, ergonomic environments.

Sam Myers

Do you need an overhead lifting crane at your facility but don’t have the space for a full overhead installation?  

This is a frequent question we receive, and it’s understandable. Thankfully, there are multiple options for lifting and rigging professionals who work in smaller, ergonomic environments. And one of those options is a monorail crane

You may be intimidated by the price of full bridge crane systems. However, if you work in a smaller facility or deal with repetitive assembly lines, monorail cranes can increase your production and employee safety at a fraction of the cost.   

At Mazzella, we have decades of experience manufacturing, designing, and installing monorail cranes for various industries, and we want to help you identify the best processes and environments for them.  

By the end of this article, you will have answers to important questions you may have in your decision-making process, including:  

What is a Monorail Crane?  


Overhead monorail crane installation with Harrington below-the-hook device

Unlike most overhead lifting cranes, monorail cranes do not utilize a bridge or girder design. Instead, the trolley is connected to an I-beam, which is stationary and not along a moving runway.  

It’s common for monorail cranes to be built into the ceiling structure, running along the flat surface on the bottom of the beam. 

Where are Monorail Cranes Used?  


Because of their design, monorail cranes lift material along a fixed, singular path—making them a popular choice in manufacturing and assembly environments, including auto manufacturing plants and food and processing facilities. Also, depending on the facility you go to, you can find monorail cranes in both ceiling-suspended and floor-mounted supporting systems.  

What are the Positives and Negatives of Using a Monorail Crane?  


Positive and negative attributes of overhead monorail crane systems

Positives 

Monorail cranes can be as simplistic or complex as you need them to be. It can be as simple as a roof-supported beam that runs in a straight line. Or it can be a complex, intricate system with curves, branches, and elevation changes. They can also be highly automated, with computer and programmable logic controller options available. 

Your team can also design your monorail systems with multiple switches and interlocks. These specialized systems allow you to transfer loads between bays or rooms. These switches can also include curves where a bridge crane stays in a straight path. 

Monorail cranes work best in repetitive and predictable applications, making them perfect for assembly lines and keeping your workers away from unnecessary and strenuous manual labor. They can also be found in indoor and outdoor environments. 

On top of being ergonomic, monorail cranes are also one of the more affordable overhead crane models on the market, making them a great option if you’re working with a tight budget.  

Negatives 

While monorail cranes are ergonomic and affordable, most have a limited lifting capacity (around 2-tons), not making them ideal for heavy lifting applications.  

Additionally, they do not do well with moving material laterally. A bridge or full gantry crane would be better in both scenarios.  


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What is the Cost of a Monorail Crane?


Like all overhead cranes, the final cost of a monorail crane will depend on many factors. Some of the most significant factors we see with monorail cranes are the length of the track, lifting capacity, the support structure, and whether it’s mounted to the floor or ceiling.  

According to our overhead crane specialists, a monorail crane with a 20-foot span and a 2-ton capacity will cost around $15,000-$25,000. The final price tag will increase if you add any customization and automation add-ons.  

What Should You Consider When Looking at a Monorail Crane?  


Considerations when designing a monorail crane system

No matter what overhead crane model you purchase, it’s a complex and expensive piece of machinery. And if you’re looking at a monorail crane, you should consider:  

1. What are the Building or Structural Requirements?  

Before buying a monorail crane, ensure your manufacturer and building designer / architect work together to see if the crane will fit and operate well in the facility.  

Costs will also be added for designing, fitting, and delivering the crane to retrofit it into an existing building.  

2. How Much Automation and Customization Do You Need?  

While automation and customization are great, they can also increase the final price of your monorail crane. Consult with your facility’s workers and engineers to see if add-ons are necessary.  

3. What is the Duty Cycle?  

Any overhead crane manufacturer will want to go over your cranes’ potential cycle. This includes asking: 

  • How often will the crane be used? 
  • Will the crane be lifting at full capacity?  
  • How many lifts per hour will the crane usually perform?  
  • Will the crane be exposed to extreme temperatures?  

Purchasing an overhead crane is no easy task. We also understand that deciding which overhead crane model to pick from is even more challenging.  

For lifting professionals who work with tight budgets, limited spaces, and don’t need a full-blown crane design, a monorail crane is a great fit to improve worker safety, increase production, and save your organization money.  

On the other hand, those dealing with heavy lifting applications will be better off investing in a bridge or full gantry crane.  

To learn more about other overhead cranes models, download our comprehensive Overhead Cranes: Top to Bottom e-book!


Contact a Mazzella specialist today to learn more, order products, or schedule services.

Copyright 2024. Mazzella Companies.


Disclaimer: Any advice, graphics, images, and/or information contained herein are presented for general educational and information purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical, or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate industry professionals. The information herein should not be considered exhaustive and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.