HDS cranes

Mobile cranes, otherwise known as handling cranes or hydraulic truck-mounted cranes (HDS), have been available on the market for a long time, but have only become popular in recent years. They belong to the group of cranes and are used for unloading and loading various types of goods. They owe their compact design to their ability to reach almost any place, unlike other cranes. These machines are used in the transport and construction industries. They have a mechanical drive, which consists of a rotating column on a base, as well as a boom system located on top of the column. Loading cranes can be mounted on both semi-trailers and vehicles. They are often used on truck tractors to improve the transport and unloading process. They are classified as mobile cranes and are subject to the regulations of the Technical Inspection Authority.

Due to the different design adapted to individual industries, portable cranes / reloading cranes are divided into:

  • reloading at the rear of the vehicle with a transfer box
  • reloading services in the middle of the vehicle
  • Behind-the-cab reloaders used by transport companies
  • a general-purpose chassis-mounted structure with a horizontally-operating lift for lifting and lowering loads
  • used in the wood industry equipped with special grippers instead of the standard hook


  • transport of building materials at heights
  • in the wood industry for loading and unloading trees
  • transport of sea containers
  • unloading and reloading of industrial containers in warehouses
  • stacking pallets on higher storeys
  • on smaller areas at construction sites, where it is not possible to use heavy equipment
  • transporting building materials on pallets

Construction of an HDS crane

HDS cranes consist of fixed structural components, which are their indispensable equipment, and variable parts, which are replaced depending on the work for which the crane has been adapted.

Fixed elements:

  • the crane's stabilizing supports, as well as the vehicle on which it is mounted, balance the increased weight of the crane
  • column attached to the base - it happens that it has a telescopic system that facilitates lifting work
  • the base on which the crane is located - it never changes regardless of the scope of the work performed
  • adjustable boom for carrying loads, which is one of the most important elements of the entire HDS device, because it enables work even in the most inaccessible terrain

Variable elements:

  • grippers used instead of a hook, incl. in the wood industry
  • hook used for gripping and carrying loads
  • hydraulic system installed in lifts used on construction sites and in warehouses - improves the crane's work

The variable parts of the crane can be adapted to the current work of the device. Some examples are:

  • the hook can be installed to carry large and heavy loads - the realization of this task is based on the use of a rope system
  • a gripper, which is an alternative to the hook - used in difficult tasks when it is necessary to suspend various parts with ropes or slings; copes with irregular shapes
  • a hydraulic system that can be used to efficiently unpack the equipment; the important advantage is that it is precise

How often it should to carry out HDS maintenance? 

Maintenance of the HDS should take place within the timeframe specified in the unit's operating instructions.

It is important to follow its provisions. There are three types of examinations: periodic, operational and post-accident examinations. Periodic inspection is determined in accordance with the date specified for a particular type of crane. The technical condition of the drive mechanisms, load-bearing tendons, as well as their fastenings and braking systems is checked by a conservator. The inspector of the Office of Technical Inspection should check the qualification certificates of the maintenance person and the HDS operator, the electrical measurement protocol, the maintenance log, as well as the inspection book. In addition, it specifies the scope of operational tests depending on the reason for the inspection, e.g. modernization, repair or replacement of elements.

Another thing is to check control, lighting and signaling devices, as well as movement stops and safety components. It is recommended to check the fire protection system and the supporting structure once a year. In order to prevent faults and malfunctions of the HDS crane, perform a maintenance inspection on a regular basis. Post-failure (accident) tests are carried out when there is an accident or damage to the device.


What is the HDS operator's salary?

The earnings in this position can vary a lot. The employee's experience and the specificity of the company should be taken into account. The salary may vary between PLN 2,400 - PLN 4,000. However, when considering working abroad, we can count on € 50 to € 70 per hour.


What qualifications must a HDS operator have?

A person who would like to work as a HDS operator must obtain the relevant qualification, which is awarded after a specialised course on HDS, where participants are prepared to operate the equipment correctly, while observing all the rules of occupational health and safety. During the training course, practical exercises and theoretical classes are carried out, where you can learn about the construction of the machinery and other knowledge that can be useful when taking up a job as a HDS operator. The course ends with a vocational exam, which is held before a commission from the Office of Technical Inspection. Only if you pass the state exam does it give you the right to operate HDS cranes. Those interested in the course must meet several conditions, i.e. be at least 18 years old, have at least a primary school education and have no contraindications to work as an operator confirmed by a doctor's certificate. Reports indicate that HDS-qualified construction workers are one of the more in-demand occupational groups.


HDS cranes can be used both outside and inside halls or buildings. However, it is worth remembering that the rooms must be properly air-conditioned due to the risk of poisoning by exhaust gases. In gusty winds or storms, and when visibility is poor, stop using the machinery. Before starting work, the operator of the machine should always make sure that there is no risk of a security incident. During the work, he must comply with all health and safety rules and remember to use appropriate personal protective equipment.