A Guide to Straddle Carriers

Moving shipping containers no longer requires a large, limiting spreader crane. Straddle carriers offer efficient and flexible transportation solutions for businesses that work with containers. They’re an excellent way to reduce costs and avoid the logistical challenges of cranes and forklifts.

Let’s explore this helpful piec

e of equipment and what you need to know about buying a straddle carrier. If you want to find straddle carriers for sale, our sales and product support team can help.

What Is a Straddle Carrier?

A straddle carrier is an off-road piece of equipment for moving standard-sized containers and oversized loads. To move these large items, they “straddle” the load between four tall legs and lift it up. Unlike spreader cranes, which also lift containers and heavy loads, straddle carriers can move with their loads. Cranes are also limited to their rail systems, while the smaller straddler carriers can maneuver tight spaces.

You’ll typically find straddle carriers in port terminals, container yards, intermodal transportation hubs and industrial environments. Shipping containers are typically sized according to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Most straddle carriers can stack these ISO containers up to three or four units high, and they can move two at a time. A straddle carrier is also well-suited to oversized loads, like wind turbine parts, modular construction components or large loads of precast concrete.

They may not be the fastest mode of transportation, but straddle carriers can drive to other areas while carrying loads. They essentially work like short-distance trucks that can load their own containers. They can also load and unload trailer-bed trucks.

Despite their height, straddle carriers offer strong stability. Operator cabins can be at the top or bottom of the machine, always with rugged casings to protect the operator. Ground-situated cabins can also reduce fall risks for drivers.

Why Use a Straddle Carrier?

A straddle carrier fills a niche material handling requirement, combining the speed and flexibility of a truck with the powerful, stable lifting capacity of a crane. You can use it to move containers across a yard with a single operator and place loads with more precision, improving space utilization and stacking options.

When you invest in a straddle carrier, you can take advantage of benefits like:


  • Efficiency: Straddle carriers are much faster than spreader cranes, making them great tools for improving turnaround times. They can more flexibly move items For many companies, quickly loading, unloading and moving containers directly affects competitiveness.
  • Logistical flexibility: Businesses often partner with third-party providers to access cranes and lifts for moving containers. Between extra costs, scheduling challenges and tight spaces, these services make logistics more complex. A straddle carrier eliminates the need for many of these services, which can help you avoid bottlenecks and delays. Plus, single-operator use lets your staff move items more easily and quickly.
  • Precision: The precise control of a straddle carrier allows you to place containers exactly where you want them for stable stacking and more efficient use of space. You can also determine the order in which you stack containers, which can help with optimal arrangements when loading onto trucks. This equipment offers precision for many types of cargo.
  • Maneuverability: Unlike spreader cranes, straddle carriers can fit into smaller spaces and aren’t limited to movement along a rail track. While they’re still big machines, they take up less room, have good turn flexibility and move while lifting items. They fit in many environments where cranes are simply too big, including doorways. This extra maneuverability also makes straddle carriers valuable in changing work environments and tight spaces.

While straddle carriers are great for many handling tasks, you may need a mobile gantry for extremely large loads, as they tend to have higher lifting capacities.

Things to Consider When Buying a Straddle Carrier

If you’re looking to add a straddle carrier to your business, you’ll want to consider a few things first to find the right one. Some aspects to think about while evaluating straddle carriers for sale include:

  • Your workflow: Can you integrate the straddle carrier within your existing workflows? Assess elements like throughput, handling processes and tracking technology you use, and make sure a straddle carrier would support them.
  • The environment: Of course, your environment will need to accommodate a straddle carrier. Consider what routes or lanes they might use and whether you have appropriate stacking areas to use them in. Also, check the integrity of your surface. While a well-designed machine can minimize ground pressure, sensitive or structurally questionable surfaces may not be the best place for them.
  • Training demands and safety protocols: You’ll need to develop some safety protocols and train your team on operating a straddle carrier and meeting safety regulations.

The Advantages of Combilift Straddle Carriers

While this equipment comes from several manufacturers, Combilift straddle carriers offer the complete package — equipment that’s affordable, fast, low-weight and safe. These carriers are also highly customizable, so you can configure a machine that fits your workflow best.

Cost-Effective and Efficient Designs

Businesses across industries benefit from the affordable build of Combilift straddle carriers, which offer a speedy return on investment. With reliable, fuel-efficient equipment and easy-to-source parts, you can minimize repairs and operating costs for years to come.

A Combilift straddle carrier can also help you save by improving efficiency and speed. The Combi-SC line offers two-minute offloading from trailer to ground and supports cube, reefer and flat rack containers.

Light Footprints

Combi-SC machines have an unladen weight of just 17 tons. Paired with puncture-proof flotation tires, these Combilift straddle carriers minimize ground pressure, so you can use them with rough terrain.

This light equipment also supports high maneuverability. It can travel along spaces of just 5 feet, 2 inches. You get six steering modes, and the three-wheel design allows you to turn on the spot.

Exceptional Safety and Compliance Features

Combilift straddle carriers prioritize safety through an optimized center of gravity and a ground-accessible cabin. It offers a central location for 360-degree visibility and an ergonomic design. You can even use an optional remote control feature to get more flexibility and reduce the need for a spotter.

When it’s time to meet regulations, Combilift straddle carriers have you covered with a weight measurement system compliant with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

Browse Straddle Carriers for Sale at Gregory Poole

Browse Straddle Carriers for Sale at Gregory Poole

A straddle carrier can be an excellent addition to any business working with containers or oversized loads. Meet your speed and savings goals with Combilift and the pros at Gregory Poole.

We’ve been delivering equipment solutions for over 70 years, offering industry-leading brands, a robust parts and service department and a highly trained sales and product support team. We have locations throughout Virginia and the Carolinas and have earned honors like the Most Valuable Partner award from the Material Handling Equipment Distribution Association.

Contact us today to learn more about our straddle carriers for sale and see why so many businesses turn to Gregory Poole.

Gregory Poole Lift Systems

2620 Discovery Drive
Raleigh, NC 27616
(919) 468-9033