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5 benefits of preventative maintenance in crane care

By stopping a breakdown in its tracks with a preventative maintenance program, you’re keeping wear on major components to a minimum, and overall damage to the crane is averted.


April 15, 2020
By Talmage Wagstaff

Cranes are some of the most awe inspiring machinery on the construction site today. They carry heavy loads over equipment, people, and structures, and seem to move nearly anything with ease.

The reason it looks so seamless is preventative maintenance of the crane. One of the major maintenance items with cranes and overhead crane systems is the inspection of the machinery. Both OSHA and ANSI have strict recording guidelines for cranes, and any deviation can result in hefty fines and the shutdown of your site if these guidelines aren’t followed to the letter.

Preventative maintenance is fundamental when caring for your crane. By ensuring that a strong preventative maintenance program is in place for your cranes, you are virtually placing a guarantee on your equipment that its components are inspected and cared for to the manufacturers specification and to the guidelines that have been set by OSHA.

One crane company may have $15 million in contracts for 2021 that have already been signed by government agencies. These contracts will be void if they receive OSHA violations. It is critical that maintenance and safety records are kept and are easily provided to OSHA inspectors.

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Improved inspection recording 

Photo: Submitted

One of the best benefits to implementing a preventative maintenance program into crane care is the improved recording of inspections. With any crane care program, you can become lost in the inspection forms quite easily. Daily operator inspections, weekly inspections, monthly maintenance forms; it can be a sea of paperwork with no end in sight.

The CMMS of today is a virtual recordkeeping champion. CMMS will inform you of the inspections that were overlooked, it will identify problem operators and can point to trends in missing inspections, such as certain days of the week, or a particular shift that is failing to submit an operator inspection. Not only does this save you the time of sorting out who is turning in an inspection form versus who isn’t, it can also point to problems or breakdowns in shift-to-shift communication on your job site.

Better overall crane maintenance

We all want to take great care of our expensive machinery. Lack of maintenance on a crane isn’t intended, it happens due to a machine being in use when maintenance men show up. By setting aside the time to perform preventative maintenance on your crane, you’re essentially saying that this is the block of time that the crane will be out of service until a proper PM can be performed.

By planning the downtime in advance, you can notify the appropriate staff of the downtime and allow them to plan around this small block of pre-planned maintenance taking place. This will allow them to reroute staff and continue on with productivity, instead of shutting down production or construction while the crane is being inspected, lubed, and given a strong once over.

Increase crane lifespan

Photo: Jay Koblun

Let’s be honest, nobody wants to replace a crane or overhead hoist system. The time and money involved in doing so can be virtually crippling to a smaller outfit, and one huge inconvenience to a larger corporation. By spotting issues with limit switches, chain, hooks, and motor and brake controls prior to them completely breaking down, you can avoid the “chain reaction” damage that takes place when one crucial component fails, and causes damage to every component down the line. By stopping a breakdown in its tracks with a preventative maintenance program, you’re keeping wear on major components to a minimum, and overall damage to the crane is averted.

Detect maintenance issues early 

The mere thought of a wire rope snapping on a job site is enough to make a site foreman cringe. Cranes carry huge loads over assets and employees, and you cannot afford to risk damage to either of those. The inspection of your crane is only a portion of preventative maintenance; you need to ensure brakes can stop the crane, that lifting and lowering components will perform when the operator engages them, and that all of the moving parts of the crane are properly oiled and cooled as necessary.

Waiting until a problem presents itself by leaking hydraulic oil or losing the ability to swing a load is going to lead to larger breakdowns with more costly and time consuming downtime. Finding these problems early on and immediately addressing the maintenance issues is going to save time and money on repairs almost every time.

Cost savings by early repairs

One crane company was having problems with their mobile crane fleet. At least once every other year they would have a crane boom failure that could have been prevented. It would cost over $500,000 and the crane would be out of commission for six months. It was determined this problem could be avoided if a crane operator reported boom shutter on inspection forms. Since they have added that one element into the inspection software they have not had to pay for a failure. The inspection software also emails the sales person that sells lubrication to the crane company as an assurance that there will be follow up.

The longer a problem goes unchecked with heavy equipment, the more costly that repair becomes. Instead of simple air leaks, you now have a complete air system failure. It’s a fact of owning heavy equipment and overhead crane systems that the maintenance is expensive, and can become time consuming the longer the problem is allowed to fester.

By identifying issues early and addressing them while a problem is still manageable, you’re minimizing costs and downtime. The overall cost savings by implementing a preventative maintenance system for your cranes is almost immediately visible, and can be tracked by the reporting features offered by your CMMS.

 


Talmage Wagstaff is the co-Founder and CEO of REDLIST. Raised in a construction environment, Talmage has been involved in heavy equipment since he was a toddler. He has degrees and extensive experience in civil, mechanical and industrial engineering. Talmage worked for several years as a field engineer with ExxonMobil servicing many of the largest industrial production facilities in the Country.