Overhead Crane Cabs: How to Pick the Right One for Your Operators
With efficiency as a watchword, a growing number of businesses are providing their crane operators with radio controls to get them out of overhead crane cabs and working on the ground on multiple tasks between moving loads.
But for numerous applications, overhead crane cabs, or crane cabins, are not only necessary, but more efficient. Two examples are nonstop, 24/7 work processes where line of sight is critical, and hazardous work environments where operators require protection, such as steel mills.
The crane cab selection process begins at a very basic level:
- Will an open, exposed/uncovered cab—the lowest cost option possible—be adequate and safe under the conditions of your intended use?
- Will your crane operators require the protection of an enclosed cab?
In most cases where crane cabins are required, an enclosed cab is the choice. And within this class you’ll find a nearly limitless range of options.
Enclosed cabs are covered by sheet metal and/or glass and can be designed to protect the operator from whatever hazards are present: extreme heat or cold, rain or snow, dust, noxious fumes, molten metal and high-decibel noise.
Double-wall construction with insulation and double- and triple-pane glass can keep out extreme heat or cold. Heat shielding and infra-red radiant (IRR) glass is capable of reflecting intense heat, like that generated from the molten metal in a steel mill with an open ladle or during a scrap charge.
Insulation also can dampen ambient noise from industrial facilities. And special finishes, such as caustic-resistant epoxy paint, can protect cab exteriors from environmental hazards. Stainless steel can be used to resist rust and corrosion and aluminum can be used to accommodate a lighter design.
Without adequate support, sitting in an overhead crane cab eight hours or more a day while looking down at the load can strain operators’ necks, shoulders and lower backs, leading to cumulative injury and worker compensation claims. Ergonomic design of seats and controls promote operator efficiency, comfort, safety and health. Likewise, video cameras are an effective ergonomic option that allow operators to follow the load on a monitor positioned directly in front of them.
For added ergonomics and optimal line of sight, windows can be placed on the floor of a crane, shielded by a metal grate for safety. This saves crane operators from having to lean extensively or stand to look out the front window.
A wide range of overhead crane safety features are available for overhead crane cabs. For instance, windshield wipers, washers and defrosters for outdoor cranes, blinds to shield the operator’s vision from glaring sunshine, sirens and lights, an emergency lowering device to provide the operator a means of egress down from the crane in the event of a power outage or health or other emergencies, and an anemometer, which can warn the crane operators to leave the crane when wind speed reaches an unsafe level.
These range from heating and air conditioning, which is more than a nicety when you’re working in a steel mill, where ambient temperatures reach 140-160° F, to microwaves, refrigerators and even toilets, which can be a real necessity for operators sitting all day 150 to 200 feet above ground in a wood yard portal crane.
Another consideration in choosing the right cab for your crane operators is that overhead crane cabs are available in three primary configurations:
- A fixed cab, the most common type, is mounted below the walkway underneath the bridge girder.
- An independently traveling cab, which runs on a track underneath the walkway supports. This type of cab moves the length of the bridge span to provide the operator the optimal line of sight needed at any given time.
- Cab on trolley, in which the cab moves with the trolley, and is always positioned in front of the load.
To help you design the right cab for your operators, contact a Konecranes sales representative today. Our representatives can create line of sight drawings to help you determine the cab design that provides the optimal line of sight for your applications.