Resource Guide for Avoiding Common Overhead Crane Problems

Products Hoist Systems

Most companies make a significant investment in installing an overhead crane. Moving materials safely around the job site or factory not only increases efficiency and production but also has a direct impact on the company’s bottom line. Companies can maximize run time and minimize unplanned or emergency repairs by employing the strategies outlined in this guide, thereby increasing the potential ROI.

While it is impossible to eliminate all emergency repairs, this resource guide for avoiding common overhead crane problems can save companies time, money, and headaches down the road. Since everyone’s overhead crane usage is different and unique, let’s start with the basics.

Understanding Crane Terminology

Overhead cranes can be complex with their various structural, electrical, and mechanical components. Understanding the jargon and technical terms specific to this industry is crucial. That’s why our first resource is the Hi-Speed Crane Terminology Explained. This downloadable guide is a comprehensive resource that covers crane terminology from abnormal operating conditions to workstation bridge cranes, making it an invaluable resource for anyone working with or around overhead cranes.

Consult the User Manual Frequently

The user manual is a treasure trove of information, covering everything from rigging to lift/move/lower controls, crane inspections, required lubricants, and proper maintenance procedures. It’s a guide and key to improving your crane’s performance and longevity. By following its instructions diligently, you can ensure the safety and efficiency of your crane operations while reducing emergency repair costs.

Depending on their anticipated usage and loads, crane operators must follow the specific duty cycles outlined in the user’s manual. Failure to do so can damage the crane components or result in damaged or dropped loads, excessive/premature wear, and injury or death. If your crane’s duty cycle is unknown,  the CMAA (Crane Manufacturers Association of America) provides universally accepted guidelines for determining a crane’s duty cycle rating.

CMAA 70 – Specifications for Top Running Bridge and Gantry Type Multiple Girder Electric Overhead Cranes

CMAA 74 – Specifications for Top Running & Under Running Single Girder Electric Traveling Cranes Utilizing Under Running Trolley Hoist

Next, companies should consider uploading the user manual to the company website to keep it easily accessible to every employee and service technician. Another option is to email a copy to every employee so they can store it on their mobile devices.

Overhead Crane Inspections

The current OSHA guidelines (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.179) require that every crane be inspected annually, with the dated and legible reports stored for future reference. However, more frequent inspections, such as quarterly, monthly, or daily, can help reduce excessive downtime for maintenance and repairs. We’ve created a downloadable crane inspection checklist to help you stay current on crane inspections.

In addition, OSHA recommends that standardized pre-checks of the hook, cable, trolley, and hoists occur daily or at the start of each shift to improve worker safety while minimizing the need for emergency repairs.

State and City Licensing Requirements

The next topic in our resource guide involves crane operator licensing. Only a properly trained and credentialed individual should ever operate a crane. Currently, 16 states and 7 municipalities require that a crane operator take and pass an NCCCO (National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators)-certified training program.*


California New Jersey Cities
Connecticut New Mexico Chicago
Hawaii New York Cincinnati
Maryland Pennsylvania New Orleans
Massachusetts Rhode Island New York City
Minnesota Utah Omaha
Montana Washington Philadelphia
Nevada West Virginia Washington, DC

*All state and city crane operator license links courtesy of the NCCCO website.

Crane Lubrication Requirements

When selecting the proper lubricant for your rotating equipment, consult the user manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations. Using the wrong viscosity, weight, additives, or type of oil/grease could harm the component’s performance and lifespan. Most cranes use a combination of oil and grease products to reduce friction, depending on the component needs.

Grease Lubrication

These semi-solid lubricants are easily recognizable due to their thick and viscous composition. Because grease is not fluid like oil, it stays in place to provide corrosion protection, prevent wear, and reduce friction. However, due to density, grease is not ideal for reducing heat build-up in moving equipment and machinery. Grease is typically pre-packaged into tubes that fit into a hand or mechanical grease gun for easy application via Zerk fittings.

Oil Lubrication

Many motors and rotating equipment utilize oil internally to lubricate, prevent wear, and dissipate heat. Unlike semi-solid grease, oil is fluid and can easily maintain a thin layer of protection on internal surfaces as the device spins or rotates during operation.

Both oil and grease are available with different additives or viscosities depending on the crane’s environmental conditions, operating temperatures, and specific usage.

Due to the wide variety of cranes, manufacturers, and their usage, creating an all-inclusive and comprehensive overhead crane guide is virtually impossible.  However, this Resource Guide for Avoiding Common Overhead Crane Problems should help reduce emergency repair costs while improving the efficiency and longevity of your most significant investment, the overhead crane. If you still have questions regarding crane maintenance, operation, inspections, or usage, email the Hi-Speed Crane Experts to learn more or call us today at 800-713-0103.