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.
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?
In the quote, the crane installer will provide a window or time frame that they think they’ll need to complete the crane installation. This can range anywhere from 2-10 business days, to a longer time period for more extensive or complex crane installations. This estimated installation window will be consecutive working days—once they've brought the cranes, trucks, materials, and all installation equipment on-site, they can’t break up their time, or stop and re-start the installation, without significant increases to cost of the crane installation.
Once a purchase order is received, the overhead crane manufacturer will begin building and assembling the crane itself—a process that can take anywhere from 2 to 12 months.
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 installer will introduce themselves, set up a time to analyze the job site or facility, schedule an anticipated installation window, and set up future calls or appointments to make sure everything stays on track.
Evaluate the Scope of Work
Once you’ve signed an agreement to purchase new crane equipment, the installer will receive a copy of the purchase order. Once they receive the purchase order, your installer will contact you and arrange to come to the job site and meet with your team. This meeting typically involves a Maintenance Supervisor or Plant Manager for an installation at an existing facility, or a General Contractor at a new construction site.
During this phase of the process, the installers will:
- Review any signed approval drawings and building prints
- Begin compiling a list of materials and equipment that will need to be brought on site for installation
- Identify where they can access the building or site to bring in equipment and materials with free and clear access
- Work with the General Contractor or Production team to get a clear picture of the timeline for installation and identify any issues that may cause delays
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.
For new construction, the installers will need to work with the General Contractor to understand the timing and installation window for:
- Electric and gas line installation
- Concrete or other masonry work being performed
- Overhead light fixtures
- Duct work / roofing work
In an existing facility, the installers will make note of any obstacles they may need to consider during the course of the installation, including:
- Identifying the type of flooring (concrete, dirt, etc.) and also understanding the load requirements for bringing in heavy-duty equipment and trucks
- Identifying load requirements for structural support beams for existing runways
- What equipment or machinery will be operational during the installation process and what employees, if any, will be working near or around the area?
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 crane installation:
Overhead electrical or gas lines, power/conductor bars, lighting fixtures, etc.
Forklifts, manlifts, trucks and semis, personal vehicles, pedestrian walking paths, foot traffic, etc.
Presence of excessive heat, hot metals, chemicals, etc.
Working at heights:
Anything over 4 feet, ladders, scaffolding requires proper fall protection
Identify any equipment requiring lock-out/tag-out per OSHA 1910.147
Any Additional Hazards:
Identified by the customer or installer
Review Details for the Crane's Runway System
For an existing system, the installer will want to verify the span measurement per the approval drawing. They will also inspect the runway beams and any type of electrification system to make sure that everything is in proper alignment. A runway system that is out of alignment can cause operation problems and cause premature wear on the components of an overhead crane.
For a new installation of a runway system, the installer will review all approval drawings and specifications, verify measurements and support loading ratings, and also identify any process lines, machinery, or other items that may interfere with installation. The installer will also need to verify that the crane will be able to pull power from the building and all electrical work will be complete prior to the scheduled install date.
Commit to the Installation Date
Once you get within an agreed-upon window prior to the scheduled installation date, everything begins moving full speed ahead in order to coordinate the logistics, transportation, and scheduling of workers, material, and equipment.
Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the “point of no return” for your overhead crane installation. Once the process gets rolling, there’s really no way to stop it as the crane and installation equipment is probably en route to your facility. Also, consider all of the different people that will be involved in the installation process and all of the effort involved to coordinate their schedules:
- Truck drivers
- Mechanical installers and mechanical assemblers
- Riggers, who will do the majority of the unloading and setting up of equipment
- Crane operators
- Electrical specialists
- Crane technicians
Your agreement or contract with the installer will specify that if any type of delay occurs within that 7-30 day cancellation window, you will incur significant charges related to paying employee wages, and rental of equipment. It is so important that you keep in constant communication with the crane installer and notify them immediately of any issues or concerns that could delay their installation time frame.
Load Test Your Newly Installed Crane System
OSHA requires that a rated load test be performed prior to the initial use of your overhead crane. Load testing can be performed using a variety of materials including concrete, steel, or water weight bags. 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.