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Overhead Cranes: Maintenance and Purchasing Basics

Mike James
Vice President and General Manager of Industrial Cranes

When you are operating overhead cranes, there are several important things to check every day, before using the equipment. First, make sure all travel limit switches are functioning properly. Pay particularly close attention to the hoist upper travel limit switch. Always check to make sure the wire rope is not kinked, frayed or showing any signs of wear.  Before using a chain hoist, make sure that the chain appears to be undamaged.

Listen for any unusual noises coming from the crane; they could indicate a problem. If you notice exposed wiring in the pendant pushbutton station, do not use the crane until an experience electrician or crane service professional has viewed the crane.

The most common mistakes regarding crane maintenance are: not following OEM recommended schedules for inspections; failing to remedy defects in a timely manner; improper or lack of lubrication; and allowing improper operation (side pulling, lifting overcapacity, etc.)

If overhead cranes are well maintained, they typically stay in good working condition for at least ten years, although many overhead cranes exist over 50 years. However, many cranes are not well-maintained, and improper maintenance techniques can reduce the time before major rebuild repairs or a replacement crane is needed.

There are a few signs that signal that a crane is reaching the end of its serviceable life. First, if the cost required for maintenance starts to become excessive, it might be time to perform a cost/benefit analysis to upgrade or replace the crane. If frequent breakdowns or safety incidents occur, ask a trusted industry professional to analyze your situation, and recommend upgrades that take safety and productivity both in consideration.

When you are looking for a new crane, first consider the reputation of the supplier—especially in regards to safety and quality. Then, determine the required capacity, duty cycle and clearance regulations (including building dimensions, required lift height, etc.) Be sure to determine how and where the crane will be operated, and take the environment of the crane into consideration when deciding if it requires protective elements such as dust-proof protection, or explosion-proof technology.

Be thorough when researching overhead crane companies. Gather references from other satisfied customers and visit the manufacturer’s facilities to determine their standards for quality. Determine if the company can manufacture a crane to your desired speed requirements, and if the crane can be manufactured to fit in your facility. Some manufacturers focus on specific industries; choose a supplier with experience in your specific industry.

If you need help developing maintenance plan for your company, review Konecranes’ MAINMAN® preventive maintenance program. MAINMAN® has helped hundreds of customers across the United States schedule repairs and reduces the occurrence of unexpected breakdowns.

If you are considering purchasing an overhead crane, consider that Konecranes has over 100 years of experience in several industries, including Automotive, Energy from Waste, Intermodal and Rail, Manufacturing, Mining, Nuclear, Petrochemical, Ports, Power, Paper, Shipyards, Steel and more.

Call Konecranes at (877) 363-1895 to learn how we can help lift your business’ safety and productivity. To find a service location nearest you, visit www.konecranesusa.com/locations.

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