Overhead Crane & Hoist Service:
A Comprehensive Guide to Service, Inspection & Modernization

Overhead Crane Service Solutions

Our services include scheduled preventative overhead crane maintenance, emergency overhead crane repair, authorized warranty repair, installation (entire overhead crane systems and spare parts), crane modernization, modifications and upgrades. Our factory-trained technicians are available 24/7 to perform emergency repairs as needed. We’ll get your equipment up and running as soon as possible.

Check Out These Overhead Crane Service Topics:

MC Number 1: Overhead Crane Inspections

FHS / Mazzella Hoist & Crane Service offers inspections and repairs for overhead cranes. Our factory-trained technicians provide a variety of repair services for cranes, blocks, hoists and slings. These repairs can be done at your location or at our repair centers, whichever you prefer. We provide crane inspections, field crane inspections, lifting inspections and hoist inspections. FHS / Mazzella Hoist & Crane Service can service any make or model crane. We pride ourselves in fast, quality service 24 hours a day. We comply with all OSHA and CMAA standards.

Five Common Problems With Overhead Cranes and How to Avoid Them

Just like with an automobile or any other piece of equipment or machinery, your overhead crane will need regular maintenance to prolong its life and keep it operating efficiently. We understand that purchasing an overhead crane can be a big investment, and an investment that you’ll want to protect.

We recommend that you establish a regular inspection schedule for your overhead crane. You should also follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for service and maintenance intervals, and consider duty cycle and environmental factors when designing your crane to help extend the life of your crane and the crane components.

1. Damage or Degradation to the Wire Rope

Damage or Degradation to the Wire Rope

Damage or degradation to wire rope is one of the most common issues that you may experience with an overhead crane system. There are a number of common wire rope problems, including any of the following:

  • The wire rope has jumped out of the reeving system
  • Reduction of rope diameter below nominal – loss of core support, internal or external corrosion, wear of outside wires
  • Broken or worn outside wires
  • Corroded or broken wires at end connections
  • Severe kinking, crushing, cutting, or unstranding

The best way to prevent damage to, or failure of, a wire rope is to inspect it prior to each shift. If any evidence of damage is observed, the wire rope should be properly disposed of to prevent further usage. Also, make sure the wire rope is always properly lubricated.

2. Crane Skew and Alignment Issues

Crane Skew and Alignment Issues

An overhead crane that is out of alignment and skewing as it travels down the runway can cause significant stresses and damages to the entire crane system. The problem with a crane that isn’t tracking properly is that over time, forces that weren’t accounted for in the design and installation of the overhead crane cause stresses to the runway beams themselves and also to the tie-backs or building support structures.

These types of stresses can result in:

  • Accidents
  • Crane failure or derailment
  • Equipment downtime and productivity loss
  • Costly repairs and replacement of parts

A crane that isn’t tracking properly also causes extensive wear to the wheels, wheel bearings, and wheel flanges — as well as premature wear to the motor drives and other equipment.

There are certain signs that your crane may not be aligned properly and is skewing as it moves down the runway. When your crane is in operation, be aware of the following:

  • Loud scraping sounds
  • Broken or cracked wheel flanges
  • Abnormal wear on the wheels, wheel bearings, and rails
  • Extra power required to move the crane through certain areas of the runway
  • Wheels that float or climb over the rail and then crash down

The best way to prevent overhead crane skew and alignment issues is to have your crane regularly inspected by a reputable third-party service provider. A crane service provider can survey your crane rails and runway systems to identify and correct any issues before they become bigger problems. They can also ensure that the runway system is within the allowable tolerances specified by the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA).

3. Excessive Wear to End Truck Wheels

Excessive Wear to End Truck Wheels

End truck wheels are components of overhead cranes that can require frequent maintenance, replacement, or adjustment. Throughout the course of a crane’s life, the wheels will naturally wear down due to normal use of the crane and will need to be replaced.

If the wheels, wheel bearings, or wheel flanges begin to wear or break down prematurely, it can be an indication that the crane is skewing and not properly tracking down the runway system. Skewing of the crane can cause excessive wear and stress on the wheels, but also on the runway beams and support structures as well.

To avoid premature wear on the wheels and end trucks, your overhead crane runway system should be designed, tested, and regularly inspected by a reputable overhead crane manufacturer. Any signs of premature wear will indicate the possibility of a larger problem that should be addressed and corrected before the problem compounds itself. Make sure wheels were made specifically for the rail they’re running on. Hardness must match hardness of rail.

4. Issues with the Electrification System

Issues with the Electrification System

Problems with Contact Interruptions

One of the most frustrating problems that a crane operator can experience is when there are contact interruptions between the conductor bars and the collector. These contact interruptions can cause intermittent control problems with the overhead crane system.

On the collector, a brush made from carbon graphite can wear down, which can cause carbon graphite to build up. Because carbon graphite dust is a conductive material, this build up can cause shorts in the electrical connection. Copper rails on older conductor bars can become corroded or oxidized over time and can cause contact interruptions. The conductors and collectors should be inspected and cleaned regularly to prevent material build up.

Problems with Push Button Pendants or Radio Controls

Certain environments can create their own radio waves that may interfere with the operation of a radio-controlled overhead crane. Push buttons or levers may stick or become unresponsive over time, and the control needs to be repaired or replaced.

Blown Fuses

If you find that your overhead crane is blowing fuses, then it's an indication that you have a faulty circuit in the crane's electrification system. Contact a crane service provider immediately to come out and inspect the crane’s electrification system and identify the fault.

5. Bent or Damaged Hooks

Bent or Damaged Hooks

A hook is designed to hold a load in a particular and precise direction. When the weight isn’t supported as intended by the hook, it compromises the internal integrity of the hook and can increase the chance of it bending, stretching, or cracking. The load can also slip off of the hook if it stretches out the throat opening.

Regular inspection of hooks and other pieces of rigging hardware should be performed at the beginning of each shift to check for deformities or damage.

Help Protect Your Overhead Crane from Excessive Wear and Costly Downtime

To help prolong the life of an overhead crane system, there are a number of things that should be taken into consideration before you even buy an overhead crane:

  • Make sure your crane is rated for the actual duty cycle and usage required
  • Consider your operating environment when designing and building your crane
  • Have your crane inspected regularly
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendation for regular service and maintenance

» Learn More About Common Problems with Overhead Cranes!

Overhead Crane Inspection for OSHA Compliance

Overhead Crane Inspection for OSHA Compliance

Keeping your overhead crane in service and in peak operating condition, should be a top priority for safety, maintenance, or operations personnel at any job site or industrial facility. Frequent and periodic inspections help to keep crane and hoist equipment operating at top efficiency, help keep the user and other personnel safe, help reduce costly down time, and extend the life of the equipment.

OSHA, ASME, and CMAA are the three governing bodies that have developed documented standards and best practices for inspection and preventative maintenance of overhead cranes.

If you are a Plant Manager or Operations Manager in charge of inspecting and maintaining your company’s overhead crane equipment, you will want to familiarize yourself with the following standards:

OSHA 1910.179 Overhead and Gantry Cranes
ASME B30.2 Overhead and Gantry Cranes (Top Running Bridge, Single or Multiple Girder, Top Running Trolley Hoist)
ASME B30.10 Hooks
ASME B30.16 Overhead Hoists (Underhung)
ASME B30.17 Cranes and Monorails (With Underhung Trolley or Bridge)
ASME B30.20 Below-the-Hook Lifting Devices
CMAA #70 Specifications for Top Running Bridge & Gantry Type Multiple Girder Electric Overhead Traveling Cranes
CMAA #74 Specifications for Top Running & Under Running Single Girder Electric Traveling Cranes Utilizing Under Running Trolley Hoist
CMAA #78 Standards and Guidelines for Professional Services Performed on Overhead and Traveling Cranes and Associated Hoisting Equipment

Overhead Crane Inspection Frequencies

Many maintenance supervisors and plant managers mistakenly think that they are in compliance with inspection standards if they have their crane equipment inspected once a year. This misconception can be costly and lead to fines and downtime if OSHA were to come on-site and issue citations after performing an audit.

OSHA’s overhead crane inspection standards, as well as the ASME and CMAA standards, require three different types of inspections throughout the lifetime of the crane equipment:

  • Initial Inspection – Any new, reinstalled, altered, repaired, and modified crane shall be inspected prior to initial use.
  • Frequent Inspection – A frequent inspection is a visual and operational inspection performed monthly or as often as daily. Inspection frequency is based on service, environmental, and application factors, as designated by a qualified person.
  • Periodic Inspection – A periodic inspection is a detailed visual and operational inspection where individual components are examined to determine their condition. Inspection frequency can be quarterly to annually and is based on service, environmental, and application factors, as designated by a qualified person.

» Learn More About Overhead Crane Inspection for OSHA Compliance!

How Much Does an Overhead Crane Inspection Cost?

How Much Does an Overhead Crane Inspection Cost?

The most important factor in determining the cost of an overhead crane inspection is the type of crane or cranes that need to be inspected. There are many different kinds of cranes, and each one has its own unique inspection criteria and requirements, and can take varying lengths of time to complete the inspection process.

As the duty cycle increases, the cost of the inspection will increase due to the components and the time required to complete a thorough inspection. Think about all of the moving parts required to operate an overhead double girder top running electrified crane. Now, compare that to a basic jib or mechanical workstation crane with no electronics, and a basic support structure.

  • Number of Cranes – The total number of cranes on-site will play a major factor in the cost of the crane inspection. The more cranes there are on site, the longer the inspector(s) will have to remain at your facility to complete the job.
  • Capacity – Higher capacity units take longer time to inspect, so it increases cost. A 50-ton crane takes longer than a 5-ton crane, for example.
  • Components – A double girder or single girder overhead crane is going to have significantly more parts than a basic jib or workstation crane. Things like electrification systems, braking systems, radio remote controls/pendants, variable speed controls, etc. have their own inspection requirements and are more complex pieces than what you would find on a jib or workstation crane.
  • Time – With more components, comes a more thorough inspection, and more time on-site for the inspector to complete the inspection process.
  • Environment and Accessibility of Cranes – What type of environment is the crane in? Hazardous or chemical environments, and accessibility considerations like maneuvering lifts to access the crane equipment, have a direct relationship on the cost of the inspection.

Other Factors that Can Affect the Cost of a Crane Inspection

There are a few other factors that can affect the cost of a crane inspection. Things like equipment, downtime or wait time, training, and environment can all affect the overall cost of a crane inspection.

  • Equipment – Will the inspector need to provide their own lift or is there equipment on-site that will allow the inspector to access the cranes? If a technician needs to bring their own lift, it can add up to an hour onto the service time to complete the unloading and loading of the lift. Are there provisions in place (anchors, guardrails, etc.) for fall protection? Is the equipment easy to reach? Accessibility of the crane or unit can affect the time it takes to complete the inspection.
  • Drive Time – Drive time will be calculated based on the distance and time that it takes the technician to drive from their shop to the customer’s location.
  • Down / Wait Time – Any additional time that the inspector has to wait for a shift or production run to end, before they can access the equipment, will be charged at published hourly rates and fees.
  • Training – Is additional safety training required for an inspector to come on your job site or access your facility? Additional training will add on to the number of hours required for the inspection and increase costs. It’s best to let your crane service provider know about this upfront so they can build it into their quote.
  • Environment – Abnormal or hazardous environments (chemical baths, hot metal, extreme heights, etc.) will require additional equipment and/or additional protection for an inspector to come on-site. It may even require an inspector with specialized training who is familiar with and qualified to work in an environment with potential hazards.

How Much You Can Expect to Pay

Every crane service provider has their own set prices for overhead crane inspection, but you should expect to ask for their hourly rate, plus an estimate of the total number of hours required to complete the crane inspection process at your facility. We’ve seen ranges starting around $65 per hour all the way up to $125 an hour for crane inspection services. However, many companies quote between the ranges of $75 - $100 per hour on average.

One thing to make note of when reviewing bids from crane service providers: If any bid stands out as abnormally low compared to a comparable bid that you received from another vendor, that company may be discounting their inspection quote to get you to sign up for a contract or service agreement. Once you’re on-board as a customer under contract, they may make up for their low bid by marking up their rates for any service and repairs/replacement parts needed down the road.

» Learn More About the Cost of a Crane Inspection!

What is Arch Beam / Window Track & Why Is It So Dangerous

What is Arch Beam / Window Track and Why is it So Dangerous?

Arch beams, window track, zipper track, serrated track, or castellated beams … whatever you choose to call them, you need to be aware of what they are, and why they’re considered dangerous if they’re still being used on an overhead crane in your facility.

Unfortunately, we see overhead cranes still using this dangerous and obsolete track system today, so our goal for this article is to help you understand:

  • The origin and construction of these types of overhead crane tracks
  • Why they’re dangerous and can no longer be recommended for use by the manufacturers
  • Your options for replacing the track and/or developing a regular and intensive inspection program

Why Was Arch Beam or Window Track Used on an Overhead Crane System?

In the early to mid-1900’s, arch beams were a popular style of support beam used for a crane's runway track and bridge. The design of an arch beam consists of an inverted “T” shaped section welded to a separate “T” shaped top section, which then creates multiple “arches” or “windows” throughout the length of the beam. The lower section consists of a hardened metal flange designed for an under running crane to run on. The reason they were so popular is that they were strong enough to support higher duty cycle cranes, but also fairly inexpensive because they used less material.

These types of arch beams were perfectly safe and acceptable for a long time, but as they age, the metal begins to fatigue from the stresses of decades of use. As the metal fatigues, the welds begin to weaken where the window portion of the beam attaches to the lower track. If even one weld weakens to a point where it gives way, the top beam actually peels away from the bottom of the beam — creating a “zipper effect” that occurs all of the way down the length of the bridge or runway.

As you can imagine, this can result in a catastrophic failure of the entire overhead crane system, which could potentially injure or kill workers below, and also cause unimaginable damage to the building, raw materials or inventory, and any nearby equipment or machinery.

The major concern with any facility still using arch beam is that the product has reached and exceeded any expectation of a reasonable service life. At this point and time, the manufacturers of these types of track systems will not recommend their use for any type of application and will not ship any repair parts for these systems.

What if Your Crane is Still Equipped with Arch Beam or Window Track?

Again, most manufacturers of these types of systems recommend a full replacement of the track with a newer type of track system that is equivalent in design and capacity. The manufacturers will not sell repair parts, service these arch beam systems, or make recommendations on any type of way to reinforce or extend the life of these systems.

Full replacement is always recommended, but partial system replacements can be performed with the goal of replacing the entire system over a set period of time to help offset the cost.

Some large-scale production facilities may have 5,000 to 10,000 feet of this track in their building. For them, it may not be economically feasible to replace the entire track system at once. In this case, the manufacturers can recommend regular inspection and safety audits per the inspection guidelines outlined in:

  • OSHA 1910.179 – Overhead & Gantry Cranes
  • ANSI / ASME B30.11 – Monorails & Underhung Cranes

How Do You Inspect a Crane Equipped with Arch Beam or Window Track?

How Do You Inspect a Crane Equipped with Arch Beam or Window Track?

For customers who can’t justify stopping production for the amount of time a full replacement would take, they may opt to have frequent and intensive inspections performed on the crane.

A visual inspection should be part of your regular crane inspection program, but there are a number of different non-destructive inspections that can be performed to provide an accurate measurement of wear or fatigue in the arch beams:

  • Magnetic Particle Testing – a magnetic particle powder is used in conjunction with a magnetic field that is passed through the beam. The particle powder migrates to any micro-cracks or imperfections in the material — revealing corrosion or fatigue in the metal.
  • Dye Penetrant Testing – a penetrating liquid dye is applied to the surface of the metal and allowed to soak in. The excess penetrant dye is removed from the surface and then a developer is applied to indicate fatigue cracks or any porous areas of the metal.
  • Ultrasonic Testing – short ultrasonic pulse-waves are transmitted into materials to detect internal flaws to monitor corrosion, and areas of weakness or fatigue.

How Do You Replace the Arch Beams or Window Track on Your Crane System?

Manufacturers have tried to remain consistent in the design of the lower part of the beams and tracks so that a direct replacement beam can be installed without having to make significant changes to the existing crane design.

Often times, you can still pull the serial number off of the beams themselves and the manufacturer can reference that number to provide you with a direct replacement beam. Or, the manufacturers may still have the original purchase order in their system and can reference that to determine what type of arch beam or window track system was originally installed.

If you’re unsure of the original manufacturer, or can’t find a serial number, you can always take a picture of your track system and contact a reputable crane manufacturer or crane service company. They can help identify the type of beam and contact the manufacturer on your behalf to quote the cost of replacement beams. They can also send someone out to your facility and grab some runway beam measurements and provide these to a manufacturer to get a recommendation on a comparable replacement.

The probability of fatigue failure in arch beam or window track systems is related to the number of stress cycles encountered during the life of the equipment. Since these types of systems are at least 50 years old, the condition of any type of arch beam or window track is difficult to determine without frequent and intensive inspection programs.

If your facility is still operating a crane running on arch beam or window track, serious consideration should be given to immediate replacement, or at the very least, a plan should be put in place to begin systematically replacing it. While the track was at one time a reliable and innovative solution in the material handling industry, this design has reached and exceeded its effective service life.

» Learn More About Arch Beam Inspection and Replacement!

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MC Number 2: Overhead Crane Upgrades & Modernizations

One of our specialties is modernization and upgrades of overhead cranes. Overhead crane investments can be extended and made more productive with new, more efficient hoists and drives, updates to electrification systems or drive control packages, including state-of-the-art variable frequency control.

Upgraded electrical systems and new components will function better, and in turn, minimize future downtime. Whether it’s new speed and motion controls or cab to pendent conversions, we can modernize your system for a fraction of the cost of a new system.

Six Signs it's Time to Upgrade and Modernize Your Overhead Crane Equipment

Six Signs it's Time to Upgrade and Modernize Your Overhead Crane Equipment

The lifespan of an overhead crane system can span decades if it was properly engineered, installed, and maintained throughout its lifetime. However, it can be frustrating to feel like you’re stuck with an expensive piece of equipment that has become unreliable, unsafe, and outdated as your production needs have changed or your business has grown.

Fortunately, engineering advancements and modern technologies can extend the life of an overhead crane that no longer works efficiently or doesn’t meet the production requirements for which it is currently operating under.

At Mazzella Companies, one of our specialties is modernizing and upgrading overhead crane equipment. We can custom-engineer solutions to extend the life and improve the production of your crane equipment with more efficient hoists and drives, updates to electrification and drive control systems, and so much more.

Why Upgrade or Modernize Your Overhead Crane?

The major benefit of installing an overhead crane system is the lifespan that you can get once you’ve invested in the equipment. While the components of the crane can wear down over time and may need to be repaired or replaced, the structure of the crane itself typically has a longer lifespan than the other components.This allows you to upgrade or modernize the individual crane components as newer and more efficient technologies become available, all while continuing to utilize the main runway and girder structures in place.

So, why would you need to upgrade your overhead crane system? Let’s explore some reasons that would provide the opportunity to modernize your overhead crane’s components.

1. Your Production or Lifting Requirements Have Changed

You may have been reliably using your overhead crane system for years with no problems — but now your production needs have changed due to any of the following conditions:

  • Another production shift has been added to the schedule
  • You’re lifting different or heavier materials
  • You require faster speeds to perform the lifts
  • You need more precise controls
  • You’re making more lifts per shift or using the crane more frequently

When you originally designed your overhead crane system, each individual component including the controls, hoist, end trucks, trolley, and drive systems were all specified to a specific duty cycle or crane service classification. If you now need the crane to make more frequent or heavier lifts, this can put a strain on your crane equipment if the new production demands exceed the duty cycle or service classification of the existing crane components. Over time, this will lead to premature wear or even failure of your crane components if they aren’t properly inspected, serviced, and maintained.

2. You're Experiencing Excessive Wear or Frequent Repair of Crane Components

Overhead crane components that receive a lot of use may be showing signs of excessive wear, or you may be experiencing more frequent shutdowns for service or repairs. The cost of frequent repairs can add up over time versus the cost of new replacement component (brake systems for example).

Not only do you need to consider the cost of the service call and replacement parts, but the true cost related to shutting down your production when your crane equipment goes down. You have to factor in the cost of the equipment downtime, lost production costs, and lost production time for your workers. In certain manufacturing environments, the cost of downtime can be tens of thousands of dollars an hour!

Older cranes can require more maintenance and repairs. While you may find that your crane system is still structurally sound, you may want to consider modernizing or upgrading any specific components that need to be serviced or replaced frequently.

3. An Inspection Uncovered Issues with the Crane's Equipment

OSHA, ASME, and CMAA have specific guidelines for the frequency of inspections for overhead cranes. Establishing a regular inspection schedule can help to keep your crane and hoist equipment operating at top efficiency, help keep the operator and other personnel safe, and help reduce costly downtime and extend the life of the equipment.

Regular inspection also helps to identify signs of wear and irregularities with the whole crane system as well as with the individual components. If during the course of an inspection, you find that individual components are wearing faster than normal, you may be able to replace these with components that are stronger, have greater performance, and require less maintenance. That’s the benefit of replacing a 15 - 20-year-old part with a new and modern design.

4. Replacement Parts are Becoming Difficult to Find

As cranes age, it can become more and more difficult to find replacement parts for their individual components. The OE manufacturer may no longer be in business, may no longer have a distribution network, or the parts themselves may be obsolete. It can be difficult to source direct replacement parts for older cranes — and if you’re even able to find the parts, they may have extremely long lead times, and come at a steep price.

Some crane service companies are able to reverse engineer or rebuild parts for older crane systems, but this can also lead to high costs and long lead times as these are most often custom-designed and one-off builds.

5. You Want to Improve the Safety and Efficiency of Your Overhead Lifts

Today, most businesses with an older crane are replacing and modernizing their crane’s control systems and replacing the operator cab with push button pendant or remote radio controls. The most important reason that companies are converting to pendant or radio controls are for safety reasons. The operator has a much clearer vantage point from the ground to identify and react to obstacles, personnel, and hazards while the crane moves through the bay.

While not as popular today, open or enclosed operator cabs were standard on most crane systems. The operator sat in a cab that was attached to the bridge of the crane and relied on other personnel on the floor to provide signals and direction to help them lift, lower, and maneuver the crane’s hook to safely move a load through a facility. By moving the operator to the ground, you can reduce the number of personnel required to move and operate the crane — and in most instances, the operator can load, move, and unload the crane himself.

6. You're Considering Purchasing a Replacement Overhead Crane System

If your overhead crane system has become a maintenance headache or is no longer a reliable piece of equipment, it can be easy to cave-in to the idea of buying a completely new crane system. While the idea of a brand new system can be attractive, it may not be a cost-effective solution. You can still modernize one or multiple component systems on an overhead crane at the fraction of the cost of a completely new overhead crane.

If your crane equipment is older, you should consider the return on your original investment. You’ve most likely paid off, or are close to paying off, the cost of the initial investment. Like we mentioned earlier — very rarely do you find that the actual structural components of the crane need to be replaced.

Also, an overhead crane upgrade or modernization can be scheduled in phases to spread out the cost of the upgrades, as well as cause less disruption and downtime that can affect your business’ production and manufacturing output. Consider how long your crane system could be down if you had to replace the entire structural, mechanical, and electrical pieces of your crane system.

» Learn More About Overhead Crane Upgrades & Modernizations!

Overhead Crane Safety Systems: Modern Features and Technologies

Overhead Crane Safety Systems: Modern Features and Technologies

Whether you’re considering upgrading or modernizing your older crane system, or you’re designing the specifications for a new overhead crane system, your number one goal should be to improve the safety of the overhead crane equipment and production processes at your facility.

With modern technologies becoming more readily available and more affordable, the safety features available for overhead crane systems have never been better. Newer technologies now allow for:

  • Remote monitoring and diagnostic information for individual components
  • Automated drives to control the speed and motion of the crane
  • Radio controls
  • Collision avoidance systems
  • Overload sensors and read-outs

What Type of Equipment or Systems are Available for Overhead Crane Safety?

Buzzers, Horns, and Sirens

Per OSHA 1910.179, cranes equipped with radio controls or cab controls are required to have buzzers, horns, or sirens to provide an audible warning to other personnel while the crane or loads are in motion. These can also be added in addition to using a warning light for personnel on the ground who may not be able to see the crane’s warning lights.

Warning Lights and Indicator Lights

Warning lights and indicator lights can be built into the design of an overhead crane to provide personnel on the ground with an idea of where the crane bridge is overhead and where the hook will be. These lights are automatically on when the crane equipment is turned on and running — helping to reduce accidents and operator error and also help position the hoist and hook to make picks or position a load.

These bright red, blue, or white lights are mounted on the bridge or hoist of the crane and project directly onto the ground using lasers, LED lights, or a combination of both. The warning lights don’t take place of audible alarms, but provide an additional visual warning to pedestrian and motorized traffic in the immediate vicinity of the crane. These lights can illuminate an area up to 15 to 20 feet from approaching hooks and crane equipment in operation.

Variable Frequency Drives and Anti-Sway Technologies

With the introduction of variable frequency drives, microprocessors now control all the components of the drive system, and provide smoother acceleration and deceleration curves. This allows for smooth starts, smooth transitions, and smooth stopping which greatly reduces the strain on the gear boxes, couplers, girders, and other essential crane components. This also greatly prolongs the life of the brake system as the microprocessor controls and slows down the motor, while the brakes mostly act as a control to keep the crane from moving.

Also, by eliminating the abrupt starting and stopping of the crane, you get far less load swing because the crane moves in a controlled manner — making it safer for everyone on the floor.

Collision Avoidance Systems

As the demand for workplace safety grows, collision avoidance systems have become popular as an automated way to control the motion of the crane to avoid accidents and collisions. Anti-collision technologies are becoming more common in facilities that are operating multiple cranes on one runway, have multiple runway systems in place, or have cranes operating in areas where there may be other obstacles or obstructions that can block the movement of the crane.

Collision avoidance systems use wired or wireless transmitters that emit radio waves, lasers, LED, or infrared light signals to transmit information to stationary receivers. These receivers process the signal from the transmitting device and use that information to determine the location of the trolley and bridge anywhere in the facility and what obstacles it may encounter. It can then slow or stop the motion of the crane or trolley if it determines there is the possibility for a collision. This helps prevent unintentional contact of the crane or trolley with mechanical end stops and other crane or monorail equipment in operation.

Slow Down and Stop Limit Switches

Limit switches can be used for a variety of motion controls on an overhead crane. There can be multiple limit switches used in sequence to slow down and stop the travel of an overhead crane’s bridge, hoist, or hook block before it makes hard contact with something that could cause load swing.

There can also be multiple limits set for the lifting and lowering motions of the hoist. When triggered, limit switches on a hoist can manage all of the following:

  • Provide slowing and stopping motions to reduce mechanical wear on the hoist
  • Control the speed and the height of the lifting or lowering motion to prevent load swing
  • Provide a final safeguard to prevent the hoist block from making contact with the floor or the drum, which can cause the load to swing violently and even break the wire rope

Remote Radio Controls

A wireless remote transmitter with a series of buttons or levers is either held by the operator or is clipped onto a harness or belt worn by the operator. The remote transmitter sends a radio signal to a receiver unit mounted on the crane. This unit transforms the signal into electrical energy and passes it on to the intermediate relay unit on the crane, and the appropriate contact is activated to then move the crane up and down the runway, move the hoist or trolley side to side, and raise or lower the hook.

Not only can the operator work on the floor safely away from hazards, but they’ll also get a better vantage point to perform the lifts effectively. The operator doesn’t necessarily have to walk with the load as it moves down the crane bay, so radio controls help keep the operator away from trip or fall hazards like obstacles on the floor, workers, and other machinery or equipment in operation. They’re also ideal for higher duty classes like D, E, or F where the crane runs up and down the runways more often, and at a faster rate.

Brake-Slip Detection

Overhead cranes with older brake systems can benefit from newer technologies like wear sensors and auto-adjust features. Auto-adjust features make sure the brake is always in proper adjustment, and doesn’t require maintenance or service personnel to manually and repeatedly adjust the brakes. This results in equal wear on the brake pads and less wear and tear on the moving components. When the sensors detect anything out of the predetermined variance, they can inform maintenance personnel when brake adjustment is needed.

Monitoring and Diagnostics

Operators, and production or maintenance personnel can use a radio or belly box, mobile device, tablet, or workstation computer to view real-time diagnostic data, including:

  • Number of lifts and cycles that the drives have made
  • Fault codes
  • Capacity of lifts / overload alerts
  • Maintenance requirements and intervals for individual components
  • System amp draw and voltage

Maintenance personnel can monitor the time between recommended maintenance intervals for individual components and also use it as a tool to schedule preventative maintenance to help reduce equipment downtime. For example, by monitoring the predictable preventative maintenance schedule of a crane’s hoist, they can help improve the crane’s safety by knowing when the hoist has reached the end of its useful life so that they can either rebuild the internal components or replace it with an entirely new unit.

» Learn More About Overhead Crane Safety Features & Technologies!

Upgrading Your Overhead Crane's Capacity

Why Upgrade Your Overhead Crane's Capacity?

One of the biggest benefits of an overhead crane system is the ability to modernize or upgrade the individual components of the crane without having to replace the entire system. An overhead crane can be upgraded to meet modern safety and efficiency standards, but it can also be upgraded to a higher capacity if your company’s production or processes have changed.

It can be much more cost-effective to upgrade and modify the capacity of an existing crane in your facility than to buy an entirely new crane system. If you think your crane is currently exceeding its capacity and service classification, or you know your production needs will be changing in the future, contact a reputable crane service provider to schedule a consultation or feasibility study. This will help to determine if your crane’s mechanical, electrical, and structural components are capable of being upgraded to meet your new lifting or usage requirements.

Why Upgrade Your Overhead Crane's Capacity?

Upgrading an overhead crane’s capacity comes down to one thing: Something has changed in your manufacturing or production processes. That change can be related to a number of different things, including:

  • Lifting a new type of material — Are you now lifting a new type of material that requires the use of a below-the-hook device? How much additional weight does this device add to the total load?
  • Lifting a heavier type of material — For 10 years you lifted a die that weighed 10,000 lbs. You had to replace that die and the new one you received now weighs 20,000 lbs.
  • Making more frequent lifts — You’re now making more lifts per hour, or you added a second or third production shift—meaning the crane runs more times per day.

Any of these changes can create additional wear and tear on the individual components of your overhead crane system. Making more frequent or heavier lifts can put a strain on your crane equipment if the demands of the new process exceed the duty cycle or crane service classification that they were originally designed for.

What Components of the Crane Need to be Upgraded?


If your crane is equipped with a built-up hoist, then a lot of the internal components can be swapped out or interchanged without having to completely remove and replace your existing hoist and trolley. The internals were originally specified to meet application-specific requirements, so if you upgrade your crane’s capacity, the internal components including the gear sets and motor will need to be swapped out with more substantial parts. It’s possible that an upgrade to the wire rope reeving system could be recommended as well.

Upgrade Crane Hoist, Trolley, or Gear Box

End Trucks and Wheels

You can upgrade to wheels made of a harder material that is better suited for the application and for the hardness of the rail itself. A wheel that is harder than the hardness of the rail will begin to cause excessive wear to the rail or beam itself, so make sure that the wheels were made specifically for the rail they’re running on, but can also handle the added load. The bearings can also be upgraded with an anti-friction design to reduce wear while increasing productivity demands.

Upgrade Crane End Trucks and Wheels

Bridge, Runways, Structure

During a feasibility study, a PE or structural engineer can help determine what type of reinforcements may be required to strengthen the existing bridge and runway girders in order to support the new wheel loads. The beams themselves may need to be reinforced by adding a cap channel, or you may have to have specially-engineered plating designed and installed to allow the existing bridge and runway beams to handle the new loads being applied to the crane system and supports. A foundation survey should also be performed to ensure that the foundation and flooring of the building can support the crane’s new load requirements.

Upgrade Crane Bridge, Runways, or Structure


When the work of the motor changes, the drive system changes as well. Any changes to gear sets or motor size will require changes to the crane’s drive system and controls as well. Adding in a modern control system, like a variable frequency drive, can provide smoother acceleration and deceleration controls — which eliminates abrupt starts and stops and helps prevent load sway. Smoother starts and stops, and less load swing all help prevent everyday wear and tear on your crane equipment.

Upgrade Crane Control Systems


When you increase the capacity of an overhead crane, you’re also increasing the overall amperage draw. You can upgrade the size of the wiring in the crane’s electrification system to accommodate the higher amperage, and also upgrade the size of the electrification. Different and/or higher capacity festoon cabling can be installed, or the conductor bar system can be removed and replaced with a higher amperage system.

Upgrade Crane Electrification

Brake Systems

If you choose to upgrade your crane’s brake system at the same time that you add variable frequency drive controls, you can greatly reduce the wear and tear and maintenance on your brake system — especially if the crane is lifting and moving loads heavier than the original brakes were specified for. Having a microprocessor control the motor and slow the crane’s motion versus using the brakes to slow down the crane, can prolong the life of the crane’s brake system.

Upgrade Crane Brake Systems

What Type of Testing is Required After a Capacity Upgrade?

What Type of Testing is Required After a Capacity Upgrade?

Once the upgrade work has been completed, the crane will need to be started up and load-tested to make sure everything is in working order. A third-party testing company may be brought in to perform the test and ensure that the crane will operate safely and productively. Per OSHA 1910.179 Overhead & Gantry Cranes Regulations, your new crane system will need to have two operational tests, plus a rated load test performed prior to initial use:

  • Testing of the hoist operation up and down; trolley travel; bridge travel; limit switches; and locking and safety devices.
  • Testing of the trip setting of the hoist limit switches to make sure the actuating mechanism of the limit switch is functioning properly.
  • Load test the crane at no more than 125% of the rated load and keep test reports on file where readily accessible.

The weight for load tests must be “known," so the load testing of the crane can be performed using a certified weight from a load-testing company, or the known weight of a variety of materials including concrete, steel, or water weight bags.

How Long Does it Take to Upgrade an Overhead Crane's Capacity?

Depending on the scope of the project and how many cranes are scheduled to be upgraded, it can take anywhere from 5 to 20 working days to upgrade an overhead crane system. Most crane service companies prefer to do the upgrade Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Upgrades can be performed at night, on weekends, or during a holiday break, but pricing will be subject to overtime rates.

» Learn More About Upgrading Your Crane's Capacity!

Overhead Crane Controls: Push Button Pendants and Radio Controls

Overhead Crane Controls: Push Button Pendants and Radio Controls

On electrified overhead crane systems, the crane’s controls allow an operator to direct the movement of the crane and the hoist. The three types of movement that are influenced by a crane’s control system are:

  • Crane motion – moving the crane up and down the runway
  • Hoist positioning – side-to-side / lateral movement
  • Hoist lifting motion – moving the hook up and down

There are two ways that a crane can be operated:

  1. An operator can control the crane from an exposed or enclosed cab attached to the crane and utilize one or two other co-workers on the ground who help guide and position the load using hand signals.
  2. A crane can be controlled by an operator on the floor using a push button pendant system that is attached to the crane itself, or a wireless control that utilizes a radio transmitter and receiver.

Over time, there has been a trend towards moving operators out of the cabs and putting them down on the floor where they’re closer to the load — giving the operator increased visibility and better vantage points to lift and lower loads.

With pendant or radio controls, you can operate a crane to lift, position, and lower the load with one person. For years, the standard crane went out with pendant controls, but over time the prices of radio controls have dropped — evening out the cost of both types of control systems.

Radio Controls for Overhead Cranes

A wireless remote transmitter with a series of buttons or levers is either held by the operator or is clipped onto a harness or belt worn by the operator. The remote transmitter sends a radio signal to a receiver unit mounted on the crane. This unit transforms the signal into electrical energy and passes it on to the intermediate relay unit on the crane, and the appropriate contact is activated to then move the crane up and down the runway, move the hoist or trolley side to side, and raise or lower the hook.

Advantages of Using Radio Controls:

Twenty to thirty years ago, radio controls for an overhead crane system had a pretty bad reputation. They were expensive and also experienced a lot of interference issues that caused control problems — ultimately leading to productivity issues and frustration for the end-user.

Over time, advances in technology have greatly improved the functionality of the transmitter and receiver — becoming a solid and reliable choice for controlling an overhead crane system. Also, as wireless and radio control technologies became more prevalent, the price of these remote systems has reduced drastically — making them more of a cost-effective solution and more in line with the cost of pendant control systems.

Radio controls are battery-operated and can be handheld or designed in a “bellybox” style, where the operator clips it onto their belt or attaches it to a harness or shoulder strap. Both styles can be compact, lightweight, and ergonomically-designed — with multiple speed configurations and intuitive controls.

Pendant Controls for Overhead Cranes

A handheld controller with push buttons is directly wired into the hoist or a separate festoon track and hangs down to be used by the operator. The operator holds the control pendant and walks with the crane and the load as he moves it down the runway. The operator can also laterally position the hoist and control the up and down lifting movement of the hook using the pendant control.

Advantages of Using Pendant Controls:

Years ago, pendant controls used to go out with just about all types of overhead crane systems. As the prices of radio control systems dropped, they became more widely-used. Pendant systems are still very popular today because of their reliability and ergonomic design changes to make them more comfortable for the operator to use. Today’s pendant design is a much smaller and lighter piece and can be operated using one hand.

The most important advantage that pendant controls have is their reliability. Because they’re hard wired into the hoist or a festoon system, there is no interference between a remote radio transmitter and the receiver.

Due to their rugged design, pendant controls are highly resistant to mechanical damage and contaminants. Some of the benefits of their design include:

  • High impact resistance – can’t be dropped by the operator, since it’s suspended from the crane
  • Resistance to corrosion, moisture, dust, dirt, and grime
  • Insulated design provides shock resistance
  • Ergonomic design for comfort and less fatigue for the operator

» Learn More About Pendant and Radio Controls!

Overhead Crane Electrification: Conductors, Festoon, Cable Reel, and Energy Chain

One of the most important components of an overhead crane system is the electrification system. Admittedly, overhead crane electrification can be one of the more complex subject matters. With different types of electrification systems available, and different varieties that exist for each type of system, it can be difficult to determine which electrification method is best for powering your overhead crane.

Cable festoons, conductor bars, or cable reels are used to transfer power from the building supply to the crane runway and bridge crane control panel. The same components are then used to supply power across the bridge to the hoist trolley.

Overhead Crane Electrification via Insulated Conductor Bars

Conductor bars (also referred to as power bars, figure eight bars or hot bars) are one of the most common methods of electrifying and supplying power to a crane and hoist. A conductor bar uses a sliding shoe collector system, which removes most of the exposed conductor safety hazards and can supply higher amperage power compared to other power systems.

Today, most conductor bar electrification systems are insulated with a cover. There are some applications where the conductor bar may not be insulated, but the most common types have insulated covers.


  1. Conductor bar – the supply of incoming power and/or control along the runway or bridge
  2. Power feed – attachment of incoming power to the conductor bar
  3. Collector – a contacting device to collect the electrical current from the conductor bar and forward it to a machine
  4. Brackets – supporting device for attachment of multiple hangers to the runway or bridge
  5. Hangers – attach the conductor bar to the brackets
  6. End cover – safety protection at the end of conductor system
  7. Anchor clamp – supporting device for directing movement of conductors during thermal expansion and contraction

An operator controls the movement of the crane and hoist via push button pendants or radio remote controls. All of these components combined allow the bridge and hoist to move into position over the load. Once the load is lifted, the push button pendant or radio remote control are used to drive the bridge crane to its destination and lower the load.

Overhead Crane Electrification via Festoon Systems

A festoon electrification system utilizes flat or round cable on a trolley traveling on a C track, square rail, or an I-beam. This method of overhead crane electrification provides direct contact, which provides greater resistance to wear on the system’s components.

Festoon systems are extremely reliable and can be used in all kinds of applications from indoor to outdoor applications, high heat environments, and in other demanding environments like in mills and at port facilities. They can also be used to safely provide power and control for explosion proof cranes.

Festoon electrification systems are most commonly found on bridge cranes, but can also be used on other types of overhead cranes like gantry cranes, some forms of monorail cranes, and jib cranes. However, some types of festoon track may not be recommended for monorail setups where there may be curves in the rail.

Overhead Crane Electrification via Cable Reel

Another type of crane electrification method involves the use of a cable reel — either spring-loaded or motor-driven — to release, retrieve, and store conductor cable for crane equipment. A reel with conductor cable wrapped around it is most often used for mainline power delivery along a runway or monorail. When mounted to a trolley, a cable reel can be used to deliver power and control to a below-the-hook lifting device or other equipment attached to the crane hook.

Cable reels utilize a very simple design that automatically winds and stores flexible cables. Cable reel electrification requires little to no maintenance and is easy to install. They can also be mounted stationary, or on a swivel base to allow the cable to payout in multiple angles and directions.

Overhead Crane Electrification via Energy Chain

Energy chain, also commonly referred to as power chain, is a versatile and flexible method of running electrical or data cable to a piece of equipment or machinery. Energy chain can be used with various types of motion and travels and helps to safely guide:

  • Bus cables
  • Data cables
  • LWL cables
  • Electrical cables
  • Hoses designed to carry liquid, air, or gas

The design of energy chain electrification is pretty simple: hose or cable is inserted into a flexible chain made of metal or heavy-duty plastic that runs on a track or in a trough. This trough guides the chain as it is pulled in a linear path by a tow arm. The durable chain encapsulates and protects the cables from demanding work environments and reduces the risk of mechanical wear and external damage.

Energy chain eliminates a lot of maintenance headaches because of its more effective and durable design — reducing equipment downtime and overall costs related to crane maintenance. Based on its proven ability to withstand harsh conditions, its relatively low maintenance, and its simple and durable design, more engineers and crane manufacturers began recommending it for all kinds of different overhead crane applications.

» Learn More About Conductor Bars, Cable Festoon, and Cable Reel!

» Learn More About Energy Chain!

Variable Frequency Drives: Smart Motor Controls for Overhead Cranes

Variable Frequency Drives: Smart Motor Controls for Overhead Cranes

Does it seem like you’re battling with your older overhead crane system to keep it up and running? Maybe it feels like all you do is tear apart gearboxes and replace the worn-out parts and couplers. Or, maybe you’re constantly taking your equipment offline to replace your crane’s worn down brakes.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Our Overhead Crane Service team specializes in overhead crane upgrades and modernization. If your crane seems to break down or needs frequent repair due to worn-out parts, you may be able to extend its service life with a smarter and more efficient drive control system.

What is a Variable Frequency Drive and What is it Used For?

Just like the name implies, a VFD varies the frequency to an AC motor by creating a sinusoidal wave. By varying the voltage and frequency supplied to the motor, the drive “tricks” an AC motor into thinking it’s at synchronous speed, even when it’s not. This creates better and smoother motor controls of every motorized motion on a crane — including the hoist, bridge, trolley, and even hook rotation — and allows for adjustable speed controls and adjustable acceleration and deceleration ramps.

As the cost of these systems have come down, they’ve increased in popularity and today get specified into all types of crane systems — ranging from lower-duty package crane systems, all the way up to high capacity / high duty cycle process cranes.

What are the Advantages of Using Variable Frequency Drives?

One of the greatest benefits of upgrading your overhead crane with variable frequency drive controls, is that they're so adaptable to any type of crane application.

Lower-end systems designed for modular cranes come standard with 30 - 40 programmable control parameters. On cranes with single-speed or 2-speed motors, a variable frequency drive can be programmed to provide smoother acceleration and deceleration, and also can be programmed to add in additional speed points. For example, on a 2-speed motor with speeds of 40 fpm and 120 fpm, an additional control could be added to allow for a median speed of 80 fpm, or you could slow it down even more by adding in a 10 fpm control.

On high-end VFD systems, there may be as many as 200 - 300 programmable control parameters used to dial in the controls for the bridge, trolley, hoist, and hook. A VFD can provide performance similar to DC controls, but with a single-speed motor. Variable frequency drives allow for acceleration and deceleration to be programmed similar to the feel of a Soft Start device. But, because the VFD controls both the voltage and frequency sent to the motor, the risk of overheating is eliminated for Class D, Class, E, and Class F high-use process cranes.

Some of the other major benefits of adding a variable frequency drive motor control system include:

  • Reduced Wear on the Brakes – With a VFD system, once the button that controls the forward or reverse motion is released, the VFD controls the deceleration of the crane and slows and stops the crane in a controlled manner. Now, the brakes are primarily being used as a parking brake to hold the crane in place when it’s not in motion.
  • Adjustable Acceleration and Deceleration Times – A VFD allows you to fine-tune the amount of time it takes for the bridge or trolley to get up to desired speed and the amount of time it takes to slow down to a complete stop — greatly reducing stresses on the crane components and also helping to prevent load swing.
  • Precise Load Positioning – The operator can run the load down the runway at higher speeds, and as it approaches the end of its travel, he can flip a switch that’s programmed to slow the crane down to a predetermined speed — say 10% of the top operating speed, for example — as he fine-tunes the final positioning of the load.
  • Load Limiting – The drive system can be programmed to detect hoist overload conditions — halting the upward lifting motion if it detects that the hook load is reaching or exceeding a predetermined load limit. These can replace load cells in most applications.
  • Fault Codes and Diagnostics – Software and hardware is available to allow operators, maintenance/production personnel, and even remote third-parties to program, monitor, and troubleshoot the drive systems. One crane or multiple cranes can be set up for monitoring and diagnostics related to the drive parameters and drive status.

» Learn More About Variable Frequency Drive Controls!

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MC Number 3: Overhead Crane Installation

Installation of overhead lifting equipment requires experience and attention to detail to prevent potentially dangerous safety issues. At Progressive Crane and FHS, Inc. we provide our customers with the best turn-key crane systems. We offer complete installation, load testing and startup services on every crane we sell. Our experienced personnel will perform a complete field check, provide drawings and build each system to your specific needs.

Overhead Crane Installation: From Conception to Completion

Overhead Crane Installation: From Conception to Completion

So here we are … you’ve done all of your research, decided on the type of crane you need for your facility, selected a manufacturer to partner with, signed an agreement, and cut the deposit check. So what happens next? Installation.

As one of the leading manufacturers and installers of overhead crane systems, we understand how many moving pieces and parts there are during the course of a crane installation.

Our goal is to give you a better understanding of the following:

  • The timeline of the overhead crane installation — including steps that take place between a signed purchase order, and the day that the installers roll up to your facility with your crane on their trucks
  • The communications that take place between your team and the overhead crane installers prior to installation
  • What the installers need to know about your facility or construction site prior to installation

Whether this is your first time going through an overhead crane installation, or you’ve gone through multiple crane installations, we hope you can learn something to help keep your next install on schedule, within budget, and your workers safe.

What Occurs Before the Installation of an Overhead Crane System?

About a month out from the expected completion date, the installer will reach out to the customer or general contractor to establish contact with the necessary parties. During this initial contact the following will be established:

  • Introductions between the installers and the general contractor, or staff who will be involved during installation.
  • Set up a time to come out and perform an analysis of the job site or facility.
  • Agree on an anticipated installation date. Know that this is a fluid process and the date can change due to production schedules and/or construction delays.
  • Set up a weekly status call to determine if the project is still on track. This helps to keep an open line of communication so any issues or challenges can be addressed that may affect the installation time frame.

Before an overhead crane can be installed, the installer will want to visit and analyze the proposed building or job site to get their bearings, understand the layout, and identify any potential hazards or obstacles. While they’re on site, they’ll consider and evaluate the following things:

  • Scope of work
  • Installation area
  • Identify potential hazards
  • Details for existing runways or new construction runways

Evaluate the Scope of Work

The installers will want to review any signed approval drawings and building prints to get an understanding of the space that they’ll be working in, as well as the span and length of the runway structure that the overhead crane will be utilizing.

They’ll also begin compiling a list of equipment and materials that will need to be brought on site for installation. This can include:

  • Semi-trucks, trailers, and flatbeds
  • Mobile installation cranes to lift the bridge and runway beams
  • Generators
  • Scissor lifts
  • Personal fall protection equipment and other personal protection equipment (PPE)

The crane installer also wants to identify where they can access the building to bring in their equipment and materials. The cranes will be loaded onto flatbed trailers and hauled onto the site, so they will need free and clear access for trucks, mobile cranes, and personnel to move freely in and out of the facility without disruption.

Review the Area Where the Overhead Crane Will Be Installed

During their site visit, the overhead crane installers will spend a good amount of their time reviewing the area where the crane will actually be installed. On a new construction project, they’ll start roping off the area to give the General Contractor an understanding of the area that they will need to be cleared out during the crane installation process.

The crane installers will also identify any equipment or machinery that needs to be moved out of the way so that their trucks and equipment can get onto the grounds of the facility, set up a staging area, and have free and clear ground access to the site.

During this site visit, the installers hope to speak with as many sub-contractors as possible, so they understand what the timeline is for construction and what other work might be going on around them during the install. They’ll need to consider the timing and installation windows of other items like:

  • Electric and gas line installation
  • Concrete or other masonry work being performed
  • Overhead light fixtures
  • Duct work / roofing work
  • Plumbing

Identify Potential Hazards

The overhead crane installer will need to identify any and all potential hazards so that they can plan and prepare their team accordingly. Different types of hazards may require specialized protection (PPE) for their team, specialized permits, and other special considerations to make sure that the crane installation is performed safely.

These are the types of hazards that an overhead crane installer will look to identify prior to the overhead crane installation:

  • Energy Sources – overhead electrical or gas lines, power/conductor bars, lighting fixtures, etc.
  • Traffic Sources – forklifts, manlifts, trucks and semis, personal vehicles, pedestrian walking paths, foot traffic, etc.
  • Environment – presence of excessive heat, hot metals, chemicals, etc.
  • Working at Heights – anything over 4 feet, ladders, scaffolding requires proper fall protection
  • Hazardous Energy – identify any equipment requiring lock-out/tag-out per OSHA 1910.147
  • Any additional hazards identified by the customer or installer

Load-Testing Your Newly Installed Crane System

Once the crane has been erected and installation is complete, the crane will need to be started up and load-tested to make sure everything is in working order. A third-party testing company may be brought in to perform the test and ensure that the crane will operate safely and productively.

Per OSHA 1910.179 Overhead & Gantry Cranes Regulations, your new crane system will need to have two operational tests, plus a rated load test performed prior to initial use:

  • Testing of the hoist operation up and down; trolley travel; bridge travel; limit switches and locking and safety devices
  • Testing of the trip setting of the hoist limit switches to make sure the actuating mechanism of the limit switch is functioning properly
  • Load test the crane at no more than 125% of the rated load and keep test reports on file where readily accessible

The load testing of the crane can be performed with a variety of materials including concrete, steel, or water weight bags.

» Learn More About Overhead Crane Installation!

Measuring Span and Runway Length for an Overhead Bridge Crane

Measuring Span and Runway Length for an Overhead Bridge Crane

While a crane manufacturer will come in to your facility and gather all of the information that they need to put a proper quote and specification together, it’s also a good idea for you as the consumer to be informed about the design and specification requirements for your new overhead crane. Understanding how a new crane will fit into your existing facility, or how the structural and design factors of an existing runway and support structure can be utilized, will help you double-check their bids.

The better informed you are as a customer, the smoother the design, consultation, and quotation processes will be. Knowing the specifications and requirements for your crane system gives you more power and knowledge you can use to make an informed purchasing decision. The more informed you are, the easier it will be to select a manufacturer that will provide you with a crane system that is a long-term, safe, and efficient solution.

In some instances, you may have existing runways in your building. It’s possible you moved into a facility that previously had an overhead crane and the original support structure is still in place, and you’re adding a new crane, replacing an existing crane, or upgrading or modernizing a crane on an existing runway system. Or, it’s entirely possible that this is a brand new overhead crane installation in a new construction facility or existing building structure.

Either way, you should familiarize yourself with the following measurements prior to meeting with an overhead crane manufacturer:

  • Runway beam size
  • Runway rail size
  • Crane span
  • Runway length and distance between runway supports
  • Building clearances

Measuring the Crane's Runway Beams

Ideally, you will have access to get closer to the runway beams using a lift or nearby mezzanine (if available). If not, you can gather a lot of these measurements using your tape measure or your laser pointer.

Getting measurements of the actual runway beam is as simple as running a tape measure from the bottom of the beam up to the top if you have easy access to the beam. If you can’t get to the beam, you can stand underneath it and use a laser pointer to get a measurement to the top flange, and then get a measurement to the bottom of the beam and subtract the difference. This will give you your beam height. If you’re able to get up close to the beam, you can measure the flange width, as well as the flange thickness.

Measuring the Crane's Rail Size

Making sure that you understand the size of the rails will allow you to properly size the wheels. The two most important measurements for the crane rails are the head width and the rail height. This allows the engineering team to identify the size of the rail and determine what size wheels should be used on the crane system.

Measuring the Crane's Span

If your building already has a runway system in place, you can use your laser pointer and place it flush with the runway or building support that the runway is resting on and measure across to the next beam or support. You’ll want to make note of any cantilevers or haunches that the runway beam may be sitting on to determine how far off the building column the center line of the runway is.

If you’re designing and installing a new crane in your existing facility, then you can use the existing building supports to measure the crane’s span. Take your laser pointer and measure the outer edge distance between parallel building columns. If you have building drawings, you can also use these as a reference or provide the crane manufacturer with a copy of the drawings for their reference.

Measuring Runway Length and Distance Between Supports

The length of the runway is the total overall distance that the crane will move through the facility. Measure out this rough length using the building’s specifications, the setup of your existing production area, or map out or mark off an area you want to be able to utilize for material handling and load movement.

You will also need to determine the measured distance between the building supports that the runway beam will run on top of. To do this, place your laser flush against a building support beam and measure down the length of the runway beam to the next support.

Identifying Obstructions and Building Clearances

OSHA 1910.179(b)(6)(i) Overhead and Gantry Cranes states that, “a minimum clearance of 3” overhead and 2” laterally shall be provided and maintained between crane and obstructions in conformity with Crane Manufacturers of America, Inc., Specification No. 61.”

In layman’s terms, this means that when you design your overhead crane system, you must consider any type of overhead obstructions including:

  • Water pipes
  • Heating and cooling ducts
  • Gas or electrical lines
  • Overhead light fixtures
  • Building headers

You’ll then need to determine how close your crane will be to any of the obstructions mentioned above by measuring from the top of the crane to the bottom of any possible obstruction — ensuring the overhead gap is at least 3” and your crane runway beams and supports are at least 2” from any possible lateral obstruction.

» Learn More About Measuring Span and Runway Length

Installing an Overhead Crane in an Existing Building Structure

Installing an Overhead Crane in an Existing Building Structure

When it comes down to it, installing an overhead crane system into an existing building structure is a completely different process than installing a crane into a new construction facility. With a new construction installation, the building’s support structure, layout, plumbing, electrical / lighting, HVAC and duct work can all be designed so that they don’t interfere with the installation and operation of an overhead crane. The installation window can be more flexible because you don’t have to worry about affecting production.

Unfortunately, most crane installations don’t occur in a brand new facility with a flexible installation timeframe and a blank slate to design and build the structure around the crane itself. In most cases, the design and engineering team has to retrofit an overhead crane and its support structure into a space that wasn’t originally designed for a crane system. To further complicate things, production is already up and running with employees moving about and machinery and other equipment in operation — all creating obstacles for getting installation equipment and materials into the building.

Unique Considerations

In this section, we’ll discuss how the following factors can affect the timeline and the success of a crane installation:

  • Production
  • Free and clear access to the building and installation site
  • Delivery dates
  • Machinery and special equipment required for installation
  • Safety programs and requirements

Production Considerations

If you ask any overhead crane manufacturer what the most important consideration is for installing an overhead crane in an existing building, they’ll tell you that it all comes down to production. The customer’s Production and Operations teams absolutely need to be on-board with the agreed-upon installation window and time frame.

Because the crane is being installed in a facility where production is already operational, the installation will typically be scheduled during a total or partial production shutdown. It’s ideal for the installers to not have to worry about other machinery or equipment that might be running, or to have to worry about employees being near or in the area where the installers will be working. This increases the efficiency of the installation and also the safety for both the installers and the customer’s employees.

Free and Clear Access to the Building

Prior to the installation, the installers will visit the customer’s facility and perform a Job Site Overview (JSO). During their visit, they may rope off or mark the area where the overhead crane system will be installed and they’ll also get an understanding of the building layout. Most importantly, they need to come away with an understanding of where and how they can bring their trucks and equipment into the facility — including access to doorways and ramps that they can utilize.

Delivery Dates

During the overhead crane quotation process, the Project Manager or Sales Engineer will work with their team to determine how quickly they can source the components, get them ordered, and have them delivered based on the customer’s specifications. The biggest contributing factor to whether the crane installation can happen during the customer’s preferred timeline is how quickly the main components — including the hoist, trolley, and end trucks — can get approved and how fast the supplier can ship them. Your crane company can work with their vendors to expedite or rush delivery, but those expedited fees will get passed on to the customer.

Machinery or Special Equipment Required

Overhead crane installers typically bring their own equipment, or rental equipment, on-site for an installation, but can use a customer’s generators, welding equipment, manlifts, Lull material lifts, or forklifts if it presents a cost-savings opportunity to the customer. However, if an agreement is reached where the installers will use the customer’s equipment, the installers require exclusive use and the customer will have to agree to forfeit use of the equipment for the duration of the installation.

Each job is unique and requires its own set of equipment and machinery to lift the runway beams, bridge girders, and hoist up into the air and into their final position.

Often times, the materials required for installation need to be lifted up and over existing equipment on the production floor, lowered down into a pit, raised up into a mezzanine. In some extreme cases, we’ve even cut a small hole into the roof to allow the hook block to drop through the opening to achieve greater lifting headroom.

Safety Programs and Requirements

Some facilities require contractors and vendors to have site-specific safety training, perform a background check, take drug tests, or have certified operator cards to use forklifts or manlifts. If your job site has these requirements, make sure the installers are aware so any unplanned delays don’t affect the timing and cost of the installation. In some cases, like where a background check is required, this process needs to be started several weeks in advance to ensure completion before the installation begins.

» Learn More About Installing an Overhead Crane in an Existing Facility

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MC Number 4: Overhead Crane Repair

Our crane repair services include scheduled preventative overhead crane maintenance, emergency overhead crane repair, authorized warranty repair, installation (entire overhead crane systems and spare parts), crane modernization, modifications and upgrades.

Block Repair

Block Repair

We repair and rebuild all manufacturer’s blocks. A complete tear down, inspection and evaluation of all components is performed.

Scheduled Preventative Maintenance

Scheduled Preventative Maintenance

We provide scheduled frequent inspections, as well as annual inspections and repair. Our repair programs will ensure you meet all OSHA guidelines.

Emergency Repair

Emergency Repair

Our factory-trained technicians are available 24/7 to perform emergency repairs as needed. We’ll get your equipment up and running as soon as possible.

Authorized Warranty Repair

Authorized Warranty Repair

We provide authorized warranty repairs for many manufacturers of cranes and hoists.

» Learn More About Overhead Crane Repair!

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