What is a Hiab? And which one do I need?

Hiab is actually a brand name.  It’s a word that has become common place in the haulage industry when referring to a lorry mounted crane or lorry loader.  These vehicles are made up of a truck and crane combined in one vehicle and help to load and unload trucks by using the vehicle engine to power the hydraulics of the crane.  The beauty of these vehicles is that they can deliver goods to site as well as lift them on and off the truck which can often reduce the need for a separate mobile crane.  They can also be used to move goods within a space.  For example rather than delivering goods they can move containers, generators or other items from one space to another within a building site which is a common request for us. 

Before these vehicles were developed in the 1940s most loading was done by hand, so the arrival of this type of equipment revolutionised the haulage industry.  We acquired our first lorry mounted crane at Galt Transport in the early ‘80s and they now make up more than 40% of our fleet. 

The type of Hiab or lorry mounted crane you require will depend on the weight of your load, the distance it needs to be lifted and what the access is like on site.  Your haulage company will allocate the most relevant type of vehicle which is likely to be a rigid Hiab or artic Hiab.  What is the difference though?

Rigid Hiab

A rigid hiab with front mounted crane

A rigid hiab with front mounted crane

A rigid Hiab is a vehicle which is a made up of the truck, trailer and lorry mounted crane all in one rigid structure.  Rigid Hiabs are a bit more nimble and can fit into tighter spaces than the alternative of a truck pulling a separate trailer.  Rigid Hiabs can have their crane situated at the front or back of the vehicle and are often referred to as a rear mount or front mounted Hiab for this reason.

For a rigid Hiab to carry a larger load than their trailer body allows, an additional trailer can be pulled which is often referred to as a ‘wagon and drag’.

Artic Hiab

An artic hiab carrying out a tandem lift

An artic hiab carrying out a tandem lift

An artic Hiab is a vehicle which is made up of a truck with the lorry mounted crane situated behind the cab.  These trucks can move around unit only or can pull a variety of trailers.   They’re so versatile that Artic Hiabs are also capable of a tandem lift where two trucks with Hiabs are used to lift a larger than normal load.  This requires great skill and precision by the operators.

Hiabs have developed significantly over the years and are widely used by haulage companies these days.  Many Hiabs can now rival mobile cranes in terms of the weights they can lift and the distances they can move.  Every year we invest heavily in our fleet of lorry mounted cranes which allow us to offer innovative solutions to the handling of complex and abnormal loads.  These include heavy lift cranes, long reach cranes and those with 4x4 capabilities. 

Find out more about our fleet here.