If you neglect the signs that your crane needs service, the results can be dire. Equipment could be seriously damaged, productivity could drop, and, most importantly, employees could be injured. Then there are other issues, such as non-compliance with crane and safety standards and costly lawsuits.

The good news is that there are certain clues that signal the need for service — and they’re easy to spot.

Critical Signs That Your Crane Needs Service

Here are six signs you should look for to prevent broken equipment, downtime, expensive repairs, and potential injuries:

  • Damaged Hooks
  • Frayed wire rope
  • Dry wire rope
  • Worn out bumper pads, brakes, or clutches
  • Loose parts
  • Corrosion

Now let’s look at these in more detail.

Damaged Hooks

Before the beginning of each shift, check for hooks that are bent, permanently stretched, twisted, or otherwise damaged. This type of damage to a hook can lead to an improperly balanced load and, eventually, the beginning of a crack or break. And that isn’t the only reason why damaged hooks are dangerous. For example, in the case of sling hooks, a stretched hook can cause the hook to be separated from the latch, and it won’t be able to balance and hold load or keep it secure. Any time that a load isn’t properly balanced on a hook it can lead to further problems.

Frayed Wire Rope

If your wire rope is frayed, it needs to be replaced. According to OSHA, damage to just one strand in a rope can lead to breakage and then cascade failure of other strands. And degradation can be caused by various things, including load cycles, lubrication, chemical exposure, and weather exposure. Wire ropes also fail from the inside, so the rope could be seriously compromised by the time you see the damage.

Dry Wire Rope

And don’t forget that wire rope needs to be lubricated. Lubrication performs two essential tasks: it enables the individual wires to move smoothly over each other and protect the wires from corrosion (which we just discussed as a potential issue with frayed ropes). And while lubricant is applied when the rope is manufactured, it must be reapplied because bending, stretching, and loading will cause it to dissipate.

Pads, Brakes, or Clutches Worn Out

You depend on the pads, brakes, and clutches to help you control your crane. But when these components start to wear out, the operating conditions become unsafe because you don’t have as much control over the crane. Frankly, you can’t be sure it’s going to stop when and where you want it to. Worn out brakes and clutches are easier to detect. Pads, on the other hand, are a bit trickier. So, if you notice the crane isn’t moving as smoothly or seems to be louder, it might be time to check your pads.

Loose Parts

Loose parts, no matter how small and inconsequential they may seem, aren’t to be ignored. Some of these loose parts could be contributing to your crane’s stability. And even if they don’t, they could be pointing to a bigger problem of loadings causing fasteners to work loose. The next time, it may be a larger, more crucial bolt that comes loose.


Let’s face it: rust can be very damaging. It will cause steel to deteriorate, which can eventually affect the load capacity of your crane. And when that happens, just a small, corroded bolt could lead to serious injury for someone in your facility. Even a small area of rust can lead to a significant failure and may indicate that other crane parts are also corroding.

And don’t forget that the inside of your wire ropes could be corroded — which is why signs of corrosion can point to other hazardous issues. You might not see the corrosion within the wire rope, but you might see it on nearby parts. So, make sure to check joints, bearings, wires, and any moving parts for signs of rust.

Don’t forget that certain environmental conditions, such as high humidity levels or exposure to water, will increase the risk of rust.

Being Proactive When Your Crane is Involved

Let’s discuss why you should be proactive about your crane. Let’s start with the ability to prevent catastrophic failures: by spotting a bent hook you can prevent a dropped load which could damage the cargo and nearby equipment and put your employees at risk. And preventing these kinds of failures can lead to less downtime and higher productivity, both of which translate into lost profit.

Consider this: tightening some loose fasteners and tracking down the cause can prevent more serious damage to the crane structure. Let’s face it: repairing the structure and supports for your crane are not only costly but also time-intensive because of the subsequent inspections that are needed before it can be returned to service.

Addressing smaller issues before they become catastrophic failures contributes to productivity and reduced repair costs while minimizing the downtime of your crane. And this also contributes to better maintenance of your equipment which in turn leads to better performance.

Finally, being proactive with crane issues results in more consistent compliance with crane standards.


No matter how you put your crane to use, maintaining material handling equipment in top condition is vital to keep up with compliance regulations and the overall safety within your facility. If you notice any of the signs we just discussed, it might be time to call a specialist to inspect and repair your crane in between compliance inspections.

Hi-Speed Industrial Service provides the inspection, maintenance, and repair services you need. Our inspection services are performed in accordance with OSHA 1910.179 and ASME/ANSI B30.2 — and we can even train your staff to perform them. We also offer predictive maintenance programs for cranes and can customize these programs to meet the needs of your facility. Finally, we offer 24/7 emergency repair services performed by highly trained, extensively experienced technicians. Contact us today to learn more.