Knowing when to replace or perform overhead crane upgrades can reduce unexpected downtime and repair costs. This article will discuss the top five reasons for upgrading your overhead crane or components, starting with crane longevity overview.
Overhead Crane Longevity
Due to the complexities of today’s production and assembly lines, determining a crane’s longevity is not a simple, one-size-fits-all equation. The following factors affect the lifespan of every crane.
- Lifting periods
- Operating conditions
- Load types
- Operating temperatures (too hot or cold)
- Operator usage
- Maintenance schedules
- Exposure to the elements
Based on its construction and anticipated usage, the Crane Manufacturers’ Association of America (CMAA) rates cranes from A (very light duty) to E (extreme duty). As a result, most US cranes have a lifespan of 20-30 years with proper use and maintenance.
How to Extend Crane Longevity
There are several ways to extend a crane’s lifespan and productivity levels.
Regular overhead crane inspections – depending on the crane’s classification, OSHA requires that every crane receive an annual inspection. Scheduling additional inspections (start of shift, weekly, monthly, or quarterly) can identify potential issues before they become major headaches or expensive repairs.
Proper overhead crane usage – operators must be adequately trained and supervised to minimize the potential for crane failures or accidents. Proper usage includes functioning visual and audible alarms, choosing the correct sling for the load, and following the manufacturer’s detailed operating instructions.
Consistent and regular maintenance – can eliminate unexpected breakdowns and repair costs. Proper lubricant levels help dissipate heat buildup to lower operating temperatures.
Frequent Overhead Crane Repairs
Older cranes typically require more repairs and maintenance to operate at peak performance and safety. Frequent repairs will quickly add up. At the same time, unexpected downtime also impacts the company’s productivity and profits. It’s not uncommon to find the columns, beams, and rails are still structurally sound even though the trolley, hoist, and other components require either a replacement or upgrade to maintain productivity.
Any irregularities found during either an OSHA, ASME, or CMAA inspection should be repaired, replaced, or upgraded to maximize worker safety and crane efficiency. These inspections are designed to find issues with the entire crane assembly and the individual components and subassemblies.
Inspections can also identify areas of excessive wear and tear. Owners can then upgrade specific components, such as the braking system or the trolley, with stronger, higher-performance parts requiring less maintenance.
Changed Lifting Requirements
During original construction, each crane is built to meet specific duty cycles and lift limits. An overhead crane upgrade could be required if the following production changes occur.
- Lifting/moving heavier or different types of loads
- Adding additional production shift(s)
- Need for more speed or more precise controls
- Increasing the number of loads per shift
Over time, these changes can result in premature wear and decreased worker safety and productivity.
Hard to Find Replacement Parts
As cranes age, replacement parts may be challenging to find and acquire. In many cases, the manufacturer has either gone out of business or has lost their distribution network, resulting in excessive lead times and higher component prices. In this scenario, upgrading the hard-to-source component with a modern equivalent will increase performance while saving time and money for future repairs and maintenance costs.
What Crane Parts Are Upgradable?
Many crane components can be upgraded to take advantage of new technologies, more durable materials, and improved performance levels. Here are two of the most common crane upgrades:
Crane control systems – today’s radio controls eliminate the need for a tethered pendant by using a transmitter and receiver to operate the crane from a safe distance with a clear line of view. Many radio-control systems include diagnostics and monitoring devices to send data to mobile devices, laptops, or a “belly box,” allowing the operator to see real-time diagnostic data during the lift.
Crane braking systems – newer braking systems typically include wear sensors that monitor brake wear and alert the operator that replacement pads are needed. An auto-adjust feature can constantly adjust the brakes for equal wear and maximum stopping power.
Other upgradeable overhead crane components include:
- Electrical management systems
- End trucks and wheels
- Runways and other structural components
Hi-Speed can assist in upgrading your current crane for changes to lift requirements and schedules, while our inspection and maintenance service plans can help maximize your crane’s lifespan. When it’s finally time for a new crane, our experts can help you select the best crane based on your budget and lifting needs. You can email the Hi-Speed Crane Experts to learn more or call us today at 800-713-0103.