According to the Hi-Speed Team, this is one of the most frequently asked questions from our customers and website visitors every month. Essentially, there are two answers, one short and the other long, which we’ll break down in today’s blog post. But first, let’s review the two types of service and maintenance strategies for today’s discussion.


Reactive Service or Maintenance – is the “run-to-failure” option that minimizes maintenance time and investment. Unfortunately, this philosophy can result in unplanned downtime and higher repair costs for the company.


Proactive Service or Maintenance – relies on regular inspections and maintenance to eliminate unforeseen downtime by anticipating and resolving problems before they occur.


It’s important to remember that crane downtime affects each company differently. A crane down for repairs could cost one company thousands of dollars each hour, while it’s only a minor inconvenience for another company.



The Short Answer for When to Service Your Overhead Crane


Your crane should be serviced as soon as possible when:


  • A crane component quits functioning correctly.
  • Visible damage is first observed.
  • Crane performance decreases.
  • Controls are not functioning correctly.
  • The crane doesn’t pass the annually required OSHA inspection.


Each of these scenarios is an example of reactive service. Because the repairs are unplanned, the company could incur higher emergency repair costs and must wait for the necessary parts to become available.




The Long Answer for When to Service Your Overhead Crane


Let’s look at the longer answer, which relies on regular inspections and proactive maintenance to indicate when your overhead crane needs servicing.


OSHA guidelines require that every crane be inspected annually, with the dated reports stored for future reference. Depending on the factors below, more frequent inspections, such as quarterly, monthly, or daily, can dramatically reduce downtime for maintenance and repairs.


Age: Older cranes and those with extensive usage require inspections more often than newer cranes.


Capacity: Due to the inherent dangers of massive loads, higher-capacity cranes should be inspected more frequently than those with lower capabilities.


Downtime: The longer a crane is down for repairs, the more often it needs to be inspected.


Function: Cranes that perform more complex activities should be inspected more frequently due to the additional components and assemblies utilized.


Frequency of Usage: Cranes used regularly or extensively should be inspected more frequently than cranes rarely used. OSHA has created a separate set of inspection rules for typically idle cranes.


Location: Environmental factors, including extreme heat or cold, moisture, dust/dirt, and chemical exposure, can affect the crane’s structural, mechanical, and electrical components.



Crane Inspection Checklist


Per OSHA 29 CFR 1910.179, many crane components are included in the inspection process, but here is a general checklist that most companies can use.


Horns: Cab-controlled cranes and those that use radio controls must have horns (audible alert) to warn nearby workers that a load is moving.


Warning Lights: Cab-controlled cranes must also have flashing, colored, or strobe lights to alert nearby workers visually that the crane is in operation.


Crane Lights: Typically mounted to the underside or structure of a crane to increase the visibility of the floor, nearby workers, and potential crane hazards.


Limit Switches: Slow the trolley’s (and other functions’) travel before hitting the end stops to prevent damage to the crane and runway. The pre-programmed limits can also alert the operator that the crane is approaching an obstacle or stopping point.


Walkways: Typically added to a crane to provide access to the operator and maintenance personnel, walkways should be inspected regularly for potential trip hazards or excessive wear. An additional employee must monitor their use from the ground, and walkways do not eliminate the need for fall protection.


Overload Sensors: These devices report the actual load weight lifted to the operator. Maintenance and service technicians can use the captured data for future troubleshooting and repairs.


Radio Control: Improve operator safety since the crane is operated remotely instead of using a pendant (tethered) control unit. Today’s units also feature two-way communication, allowing the device to send and receive operational commands and data.


Collision Avoidance Systems: Track and monitor each crane on the runway to avoid collisions with the end-stops, obstructions, and other crane(s).


Brake Slip Monitoring: These systems document brake slippage for future troubleshooting or repairs and alert operators and service teams when an adjustment is needed.


Variable Speed Drives: Provide smoother starts and stops to eliminate load swings from hard starts and sudden stops while reducing mechanical wear and drive train impact loads.

Overhead cranes are complex systems that require consistent monitoring and maintenance by skilled professionals to ensure worker safety, minimize potential downtime, and optimize ROI on capital investment.


If you want to learn more about crane service and inspections or establish a new or improved preventative maintenance plan, you can email the Hi-Speed Crane Experts or call us today at 800-713-0103.