Get To Know “Big Carl”: A Closer Look at the World’s Largest Crane

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be the world’s biggest? Big Carl can tell you all about it! This blog takes a closer look at the Sarens SGC 250 crane in Somerset, which stands nearly 820 feet tall and is considered one of the most powerful cranes in the world. Read on to learn more about this awe-inspiring engineering feat! Let’s see what makes this immense machine so unique!

“Big Carl”

Big Carl is the world’s largest crane in Somerset, England. Big Carl was built by the Belgian crane rental company – Sarens. The enormous crane has 12 individual engines, and with a staggering maximum load moment of 250,000 tonne-meters, this massive lifting device can lift 5,000 tonnes. This is equivalent to 10 Boeing 747 jumbo aircraft weight or 400 double-deckers London buses.

The Origins of Sarens SGC 250 Crane

The Sarens SGC 250 crane is called the “Big Carl,” named after Carl Sarens. The company that built it, Sarens, is a Belgium-based heavy lifting and engineering company founded in 1921. The crane was designed and made in-house.

According to Sky News, the crane was transported over several months from Ghent, Belgium, to the Somerset location of the Hinkley Point C project in the United Kingdom. It took 280 trucks to get this done.

Sixteen thousand hours of research and development, 6,000 hours of CAD design, and more than 25,000 hours of specialist design detail work were all part of the design process. Using components from across Europe, construction began in August 2017 and was completed in 14 months in time for the November 2018 public launch.

It was assembled for the UK’s first nuclear power project in 30 years, “Hinkley Point C.”

The crane’s primary purpose is to lift massive objects, such as power plant turbines or prefabricated sections of bridges.

Unique Features of the Crane

To put its size into perspective, if Big Carl is 820 feet, this would be almost the height of The Shard in London, which is 1020 feet. Despite its massive size, it can rotate 360 degrees, but it would take 40 minutes. Fifty-two counterweight containers sourced locally, each weighing 100 tonnes, are used to support the crane.

20 aircraft, 63 trains, 126 vehicles, and 1,408 elephants can all be lifted by this biggest crane in the world.

How the Crane Changed Construction?

The first ever crane was built in ancient Greece to move heavy objects like stones. The crane has come a long way since then and is now an essential piece of equipment in construction. In Somerset, the world’s largest crane is currently being used to build a new power station.

The Hinkley Point C project is expected to be completed in 2025, and when it’s finished, Big Carl will have lifted a total of several million tonnes of concrete and steel – an incredible feat!

The major steel containment liners and domes for each reactor building, as well as more than 600 prefabricated other parts of the new power plant, will be hauled into position by Big Carl.

The sheer load capacity of the SGC-250 and its height of 0.25 km in its tallest configuration makes it possible, making it slightly taller than One Canada Square in London’s Canary Wharf. A main boom constructed of high-strength steel measuring 118 meters has a lifting height of 160 meters and a heavy-duty jib measuring 52.3 meters, which adds an additional 100 meters.

The crane can be equipped with a collision avoidance system. It will continue to operate through the night to lessen local disturbance and permit all other smaller cranes to continue operating throughout the day.

The use of such a large crane has its challenges, though. For example, the ground must be prepared carefully before Big Carl can lift anything. This means that the construction process takes longer than it would if smaller cranes were used. But the result is worth it – thanks to Big Carl, the new power station will be one of the most powerful in the UK.


1.    How does Big Carl work?

According to Sarens, the fully-rigged crane can travel between three lifting locations thanks to the site’s 6 km rail track, a first in the industry. The SGC-250 moves on high-grade steel rails because of the scale of the building operation, and these rails enable the SGC-250 to change positions without requiring reassembly, unlike smaller models like the SGC-120.

When changing positions, it runs on 96 individual wheels. However, due to the careful design of the four bogies that run on a spreader mat and a double ring beam made of high-strength steel, it only exerts a maximum ground pressure of 25 tonnes per square meter despite its enormous weight. With an additional 128 wheels, it can also rotate 360 degrees, and the ring itself is smaller than 50 meters in diameter.

2.    How does Big Carl lift?

The crane’s hook is attached to more than two kilometers of thick steel cables for actual lifting. Similar cables are also used to control the boom’s pulleys, which lift the boom. These cables have to withstand an enormous load of moving bulky parts.

3.    Where is Big Carl now?

Big Carl is located in Somerset, working on the Hinkley C project.

4.    Who owns Big Carl?

Sarens, a crane manufacturer based in Belgium, owns and operates Big Carl.

Final Thoughts

Not only is Big Carl a fantastic feat of engineering and design, but it also serves as a reminder of the incredible potential for human innovation and hard work. We hope this article has inspired readers to appreciate Big Carl and learn more about its impressive features. With its unique history, remarkable size, and innovative capabilities, Big Carl continues to hold a special place in both the hearts of Somerset locals and crane enthusiasts alike.



Ryan Lenett
At his core, Ryan’s true passion is helping others achieve their own independent goals in life. His skill sets consist of Scientific research, Gadget Reviews and Technical testing. Year over year, Ryan has consistently amassed revenue streams that exceed seven figures in value.