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Is Your Portal Crane Tracking Straight?

Gary Otto
Portal Crane Sales

The answer to the question of this post’s title is more likely to be “yes” if you keep your portal crane on a regular crane inspection and maintenance program.

Inspections will help you catch and correct problems before they create serious alignment issues that will shorten the life of your portal crane. Of course, that’s good advice for any type of crane.

Your portal crane will let you know if the answer is “no.” Crane wheels speak for themselves, grinding and screeching when they’re not tracking straight. They’ll give you visual signs, too.

Discovering a tracking problem is much easier than identifying the cause. That’s because there’s usually more than one contributing factor involved – especially when regular crane inspections are not conducted, allowing problems to compound unchecked.

Examples of contributing factors may include:
• Mechanical problems, such as a bearing that goes bad, creating drag that causes wheels to wear  on one side
• An electrical control issue that prevents a motor from operating at full power
• High-speed impact into the end stops, which can twist the crane’s structure

To optimize tracking of your portal crane and correct skew before it becomes a serious problem, I recommend that you conduct a daily visual check of wheels for signs of flange wear and listen for squeaking as the crane runs.

You can use a reference string or straight edge to detect whether wheels are toed in or toed out in reference to the rail.

And, at least once a week, drive the crane down to the end stops to see if it pulls up square. If not, measure the discrepancy. You’ll need to repeat this a few times – backing the crane off the end stops and driving it back to the end stops to calculate an average.

I recommend you do this at least once a week. Some portal crane users check at the end of each shift. 

A skew-avoidance system can prevent wheel skew in a portal crane. Not to be confused with skew control – a technology available for overhead cranes, but not portal cranes – skew avoidance compensates for uneven load distribution. This system connects half the motors on each side of the crane to each of the inverters that drive the crane. This evens the burden and enables the crane to track straight.

Contact Konecranes for a quote or to learn more about how a crane inspection can keep your portal crane on track.