Archive: Dec 2019

Top 3 Major Crane Hazards and How to Avoid Them

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In the manufacturing and construction industries, overhead cranes lift and transport necessary materials for a wide range of applications. When installed and used properly, these systems facilitate safer, more efficient operations. However, improper installation and usage can cause accidents that result in severe injury to life and limb. The key to preventing these incidents is recognizing their sources so industry professionals can better understand how to avoid them.

The following blog post outlines the four major hazards related to crane installation and usage and the recommended safety procedures to circumvent them.

Common Crane Hazards

Most overhead crane accidents stem from one of four major causes:

1. Excessive Load

OSHA estimates that 80% of all crane accidents and failures result from exceeding the rated capacity of the crane. Overloading can cause significant damage to the crane, decreasing its structural integrity and often leading to complete failure. Once these occur, crane operators and nearby personnel can be injured by falling or failing parts.

Overloading may occur in several different ways:

  • Handling a load heavier than the crane’s capacity
  • Swinging, dragging, or suddenly dropping a load
  • Side-loading a boom (Any time the load’s center of gravity is not directly under the crane.)

For crane operators, understanding these leading causes of overloading and how to avoid them necessitates comprehensive training. A typical training regimen may include imparting knowledge about the principles of load handling and hoisting capacities for various conditions and operating conditions.

2. Falling Materials

In the workplace or at a jobsite, falling materials can cause significant injuries or fatalities. These incidents can occur due to many reasons, such as:

  • Visual impairment
  • Improper or inadequate rigging of materials
  • Mechanical failure
  • Ill-timed movement of materials
  • Operator incompetence

Most, if not all, causes of falling materials can be avoided through the careful operation of the crane, which is facilitated by employing well-trained and qualified crane operators.

3. Insufficient Inspection and Maintenance

Through use in operations, loading bearing equipment experiences damage that can affect performance. This damage can take the form of worn-out ropes, electrical wires, and structural components. As these systems play a critical role in lifting and transporting heavy materials, ensuring they are in proper working order through regular inspection is essential to preventing employee injuries and fatalities.

As outlined by the Crane Manufacturer’s Association of America (CMAA), crane inspectors should have the following:

  • At least 2,000 hours of experience inspecting, maintain, repairing, and testing cranes and hoist equipment
  • Knowledge of safety and design standards; federal, state, and local codes; and safe operating practices
  • Understanding of proper reporting and documentation protocols

There are four types of inspections, some performed by a crane inspector and some by the operating personnel:

  • Initial Inspection: OSHA 1910.179requires an initial inspection for all new and altered cranes.
  • Pre-shift Inspection: It is advisable to do an inspection every time there is a change in the crane operating crew, such as when a new shift starts.
  • Frequent Inspection: These are done by certified inspectors. The frequency of these inspections varies with the type, size, and capacity of the crane.
  • Periodic Inspection: These are detailed visual inspections and operational checks that cover every part of the crane.

Partnering With American Crane

At American Crane & Equipment Corporation (ACECO), we provide a wide range of material handling equipment, including overhead cranes, for a diverse set of industries including aerospace, automotive, construction, marine, mining, and waste processing. As a leading manufacturer of high-quality standard and custom systems, we fully understand the nuances of safe and efficient crane operations and make sure to adhere to all CMAA Guidelines. To learn more about how to identify and avoid common crane hazards, contact us today.

To Replace or To Rebuild: What is Best for Your Crane & Equipment?

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Dependable equipment is critical to your business. It keeps processes running, protects materials, and increases employee safety. Forklifts must be well-balanced and overhead cranes must be sturdy and steady enough to lift heavy loads. Unfortunately, in spite of safety standards, cranes are often pushed beyond their limits. Like all equipment, cranes wear down over time, and as they do, their capacity decreases.

What can you do when your overhead crane is no longer up for the work you need it to do? You can replace your crane or you can rebuild it. In this blog post, we’ll look of the benefits and drawbacks of each solution to help you make the best decision for your company.


Why Replace?

In the short run, it’s tempting to opt for the quicker, less expensive option of repairing equipment as issues arise. Depending on the cause of the problem, however, however, these up-front savings could impact your crane’s long-term performance and reduce employee safety over the long haul.

Here are some signs it’s time to allocate funds for a new crane:

  • Safety issues. Don’t compromise on employee safety. Track the frequency of injuries and breakdowns, especially if you can’t pinpoint the cause of these problems. If you’re not sure whether these issues are substantial enough to require a replacement, contact a professional to inspect your crane and make a recommendation.
  • Repeated repairs.An occasional repair doesn’t mean it’s time to scrap your crane. However, if repairs are becoming a regular ritual or each fix just seems to lead to more problems, it’s probably time to either replace your crane or replace key parts.
  • Decreasing efficiency.Take a look at your crane’s performance data. Has its speed or weight-bearing ability dropped over time? Has operating the crane become more difficult for your workers? While these changes might seem minor at first, they can ultimately affect the effectiveness and profitability of your operation.
  • Expired warranties.If the warranty on a part or system has expired, its best days are probably behind it. Many parts also have manufacturer-recommended replacement timelines. It’s best to replace expired components as soon as possible.

Why Rebuild?

If your crane is structurally strong and free of deterioration or damage, rebuilding could extend its life without sacrificing safety or effectiveness. An overhaul or upgrade might be all you need to minimize malfunctions, increase dependability, comply with safety standards, and protect your operators.

Here are some situations where an otherwise sound crane might be a good candidate for repair/rebuild.

  • Insufficient capacity. Older cranes had limited weight capacities, but technology improvements
    over the past couple of decades mean that many older cranes can be retrofitted to handle heavier loads.
  • A specific system has broken down.Individual crane systems deteriorate over time. Once-adequate systems might also no longer be up to the demands of modern manufacturing. By updating lift, drive control, hydraulic, computer, or other systems, you could give an otherwise sound crane many more good years.
  • Safety features have worn down. Railings, walkways, steps, ladders, and other safety features may wear out long before your crane does. Upgrading these features allows you to continue using your crane while still complying with relevant safety standards.

Crane Repair and Replacement From American Crane

The experts at American Crane are ready to help you find the optimal overhead lifting solution for your facility. We offer an extensive range of repair services, or if you think it may be time to replace your overhead crane we’ll schedule a professional consultation with our crane technicians and evaluators. Please contact us with any questions or concerns about repair or replacement.

Want to read more? Download our Crane Buyers Guide to learn more about the upgrades or replacements we offer for your applications.

Why Below-the-Hook Matters: Your Guide to Below-The-Hook Lifting Devices

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Below-the-hook lifts are crucial for the safe transport and movement of loads when using cranes and hoists. The goal of a below-the-hook lift is to attach a load to the crane or hoist and secure that load until it reaches its final destination. The lift serves as the connection between a hoist and its load, and must therefore be able to sustain heavy loads while maintaining a high level of stability.

A below-the-hook lift may consist of magnets, lifting beams, grapples, or vacuum lifters, and often includes secondary components such as slings, hooks, and rigging hardware. The materials and equipment used in below-the-hook lifts vary widely depending on the application. Due to their critical nature, below-the-hook lifts are highly regulated by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), which provides guidelines for designs, inspections, and testing to ensure a standard level of quality.

An Overview of Below-the Hook-Lifting

Cranes and hoists are necessary for a wide variety of circumstances, which often requires engineers to customize the design of below-the-hook lifts to meet the needs of a given project or application. Below-the-hook lift designs are frequently adapted to account for a load’s center of gravity, shape, and size, and customization of these designs helps to guarantee safe operation of crane equipment and efficient transport of the load or loads.

In order to ensure that the below-the-hook lift is designed for optimal use, both the manufacturer and the customer participate in the engineering process for each application. This ensures design engineers and project managers consider the precise needs for the project so that they can produce a lifting solution that meets every need.

There are a wide variety of mechanical below-the-hook devices for use with cranes and hoists, including:

  • Lifting magnets
  • Spreader and lifting beams
  • Crane grapples
  • Custom Devices

Each design can be specifically modified with custom designed claws, hooks, tongs, and latches to ensure the most secure fit. Depending on the needs of the application, mechanical below-the-hook devices can be operated using electronic or hydraulic means.

Advantages of Below-the-Hook Lifting Devices

Below-the-hook lifting devices are the ideal option to provide the safest and most reliable load transport. Although traditional slings of wire rope, alloyed metal chains, or durable synthetic materials are easier to construct, they are not the safest way to move loads and often move or shift unexpectedly. Unpredictable load bearing puts both equipment and workers at risk, especially when transporting loads with an unusual shape, size, or weight.

Below-the-hook lifts are specifically designed to ensure optimal control of the load. Not only do they enhance the safety of the worksite, they save you time and money that would otherwise be spent finding a creative workaround with a sling or other existing equipment.

Since they are highly customizable, below-the-hook lifts are useful for even the most difficult loads. For example, if your project requires the ability to lift loads with varying centers of gravity, they can easily be managed with a custom designed below-the-hook lift with an adjustable bail. Whatever your project needs, a lifting device can be designed to move your loads more efficiently and safely.

Below-the-Hook Lifting Devices from American Crane

Below-the-hook lifting devices must be carefully designed in collaboration with experienced engineers and customers in order to ensure the safety and security of load transport in any project or application. At American Crane, we pride ourselves on providing the highest-quality custom cranes and hoist equipment in the industry. Our knowledgeable and experienced engineers are capable of designing systems to secure and move loads for a wide range of projects and applications. For more information on our below-the-hook lifts, contact us today.