Archive: Dec 2021

Building Quality: Ensuring the Safety and Productivity of Your Operation

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Ensuring the Safety and Productivity of Your OperationEnsuring that every customer’s crane and hoist solution over-delivers on operational safety, productivity, and longevity is the foundation of American Crane’s mission. In fact, the very first pillar of our mission statement is: “We are passionate about delighting our customers. Our mission is to make their lives easier. We do what we commit to do, do it well and do it on-schedule.”

A massive part of that commitment is our dedication to the core value, “Build Quality.” As explained in our values: “What we do, we do well. We strive to provide excellence and value in our products & services.” Every member of our team recognizes that if our products aren’t manufactured to the highest quality standards, the safety and integrity of each customer’s operation is jeopardized.

How We Build Quality into Every Crane We Make

At American Crane, we’ve taken a number of steps to ensure our people, processes, technologies, and equipment meet or exceed the most stringent industry standards and certifications. These include:

Training and Certifications. All of our manufacturing personnel, including machinists, welders, fabricators, and assemblers, are trained and re-trained annually (or more often). Continuous education, sourced internally and through certified third-party instructors, hones and improves their skills while meeting our highest quality standards. Additionally, many members of our welding team are certified by American Crane to both American and Canadian welding standards:

Manufacturing Capabilities. American Crane’s products have always been proudly Built in the USA, primarily to guarantee that each overhead handling solution we manufacturer is over the highest quality. We continuously invest in our own manufacturing capabilities, including state-of-the-art technologies such as:

  • A computer numerical control (CNC) machine shop.
  • In-house electrical panel shop, including the ability to manufacture UL508 certified control panels.

Engineering Capabilities. No two crane and hoist applications or solutions are ever the same. To ensure that every unique overhead lifting system we manufacture exceeds our customers’ expectations, American Crane’s in-house engineering department is equipped with a broad range of design, modeling, and analysis capabilities, including:

  • AutoCad, MathCad, Solidworks, SAP2000, and ANSYS software.
  • Design of machinery and machine components, mechanical systems, control systems, automated systems, and software.
  • Design, analysis and seismic qualification of structures, failure modes and effects, and more.
  • Engineering studies of existing equipment, specification review and development, and conceptual development for unique applications
  • “Smart” crane systems that provide enhanced protection and maintenance data.

Inspection and Testing Capabilities. To verify the safety and integrity of our products before delivery and installation at a customer location, American Crane’s in-house quality assurance group performs a variety of inspections and testing procedures. These include:

Quality Assurance Verifications. American Crane offers several graded quality assurance programs to match each customer’s specific requirements, including those of the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and the nuclear industry. These include:

  • Standard Quality Program (SQP-96) is utilized for standard commercial cranes and other material handling equipment and is implemented in accordance with controls identified in the SQP-96 Standard Quality Manual.
  • Augmented Quality Program (ASQP-96) is offered to customers who require additional quality controls than committed to in SQP-96. American Crane provides a cost-effective way to obtain these additional controls without invoking its highest level QAM-96 Quality Assurance Manual (described below). For augmented quality controls, SQP-96 is used to provide baseline commitments. Additional controls required by the customer’s contract will be achieved by invoking additional, applicable procedures (APs). Any APs to be invoked are jointly determined by the VP, Quality & Performance Improvement and the Project Manager and documented in a Fabrication, Inspection, and Test Plan. Where required by contract, the combination of implementing SQP-96 with the appropriate AP procedures the intent of ISO 9001 can be met.
  • Nuclear Quality Assurance Program (QAM-96) is available for contracts requiring a comprehensive, documented quality assurance program. QAM-96 was developed to meet the quality assurance program requirements of 10CRFR50, Appendix B; ASME- NQA-1; and ANSI N45.2. Because this program is intended when safety related cranes or material handling equipment is being procured for nuclear related applications, this program is typically not economical for non-nuclear contracts because of additional required activities and associated costs.

At American Crane, GRIT Equals Quality

The American Crane commitment to Build Quality in every product we make is fully embraced by our entire team, notes the members of our quality assurance team. They include Lester Dice, Broc Emery, and Mike Lamparella.

“Build Quality, for me, means the effort that we all put in at American Crane. The final result really pays dividends,” says Dice. “We do what we say we’re going to do and live up to the expectations of the company and of our customers.”

Emery adds, “Build Quality also means craftsmanship, and caring about what you do. I believe it’s vital to our customers to show that we care about what we’re building and that we produce good work.”

“By following our Build Quality systems, we make American Crane one of the top crane manufacturers in the country,” explains Lamparella, who notes that customers frequently comment on how impressed they are with the final quality of their crane, particularly those with the most challenging and complex requirements.

Safety. Productivity. Longevity. Because we only Build Quality at American Crane, our customers can be assured that every custom overhead crane solution we manufacture will check each of those boxes. It’s just one of the many components of our mantra: GRIT Matters. To learn more about how we put Perseverance, Heart, and InteGRITy into our high-quality products, contact us.

6 Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Crane and Hoist for Your Application

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Choosing the Right Crane

In a previous post, I discussed some basic details about cranes and hoists, and how they work together. As promised, here are some thoughts about the different factors that should be considered when specifying a crane and hoist combination.

I’ve essentially grown up in the overhead handling industry, so I know how complex and time consuming it can be trying to figure out what equipment will best match an operation’s unique overhead handling needs and budget requirements. There are a lot of manufacturers who make a variety of cranes and hoists to handle different kinds of loads, capacities, frequencies of use, and environmental conditions across different industries. Just figuring out where to begin can be daunting. I get it.

That’s why I recommend considering the following six factors as you begin your crane and hoist investment journey. Understanding and having insight into each of these areas and how they impact the overall specification and buying process will help you to make a more informed decision.

  1. The Load. All crane and hoist manufacturers need to know what you’re lifting, as well as its dimensions, total weight, surface characteristics, uniformity (or not) of shape, material, construction, and fragility. Also, if the load will be wet, dry, dusty, oily, or in some other condition as it’s handled. Further, it’s important to note if more than one type of load needs to be handled by the crane and hoist. Depending on how different each load is from another, more than one combination of overhead lifting and handling solution might be recommended.
  2. The Frequency of Use. How often and at what percentage of its maximum load capacity the crane and hoist will be used — also known as Duty Cycle Requirements — has a significant impact on the service class an application requires. There are six crane and hoist service classes. Specifying equipment engineered to meet the appropriate class for your application will ensure its safety and longevity. Briefly, the six classes are:
  • Class A: Standby or Infrequent Service. These are often applications where precise handling of equipment at slow speeds with long idle periods between lifts occur.
  • Class B: Light Service. Light use, low speed applications, with loads ranging from none to full rated capacity at a rate of two to five lifts per hour averaging 10 feet per lift.
  • Class C: Moderate Service. Loads average 50% of the rated capacity with five to 10 lifts per hour at an average of 15 feet.
  • Class D: Heavy Service. Loads approaching 50% to 65% of rated capacity are handled constantly and at high speeds, with 10 to 20 lifts per hour at an average of 15 feet.
  • Class E: Severe Service. Near continuous use with 20 or more lifts per hour at or near 100% of the rated capacity, often in harsh environments.
  • Class F: Continuous Severe Service. Continuous use in harsh conditions at near 100% of the rated capacity. These cranes may be custom designed for high reliability in critical operations.
  1. The Required Speed. How quickly the crane must travel and hoist must lift and lower in order to keep up with production processes is critical to ensuring overall operational efficiency. A system that is too fast or too slow can compromise safety.
  2. The Operating Environment. Cranes and hoists are used both indoors and outside; either environment can have its own specific challenges including temperature, hazardous conditions, dust, heat, humidity, liquids, oils, fibers, corrosive chemicals, and more. Depending on the application, a custom crane and hoist combination may be recommended to increase reliability and service life.
  3. The Expected Longevity. Routine maintenance is a must for all cranes and hoists to ensure they operate safely and reliably throughout their entire lifespan. How often (or not) an operation wants the equipment to run between servicing, to replace key components, or to replace the entire system is an important consideration when designing and specifying a crane and hoist.
  4. The Budget. While it can be tempting to pick the crane and hoist combination priced the lowest of all options, chances are that system will not be engineered to meet the actual requirements of the application. A properly engineered system likely will not be the least expensive, but it has a better chance of operating for a longer period of time with fewer operational issues, less downtime, and a higher degree of safety. Further, there are costs associated with all capital equipment investments beyond the initial purchase price. Be sure to account for installation, spare parts, maintenance agreements, service contracts, and desired level of field service team responsiveness to issues when totaling up the costs of the equipment.

Other Resources to Help You Specify the Right Crane and Hoist

Beyond the considerations outlined above, there are a variety of buyer’s guide resources available. These are intended to help novice and experienced buyers of overhead lifting systems better evaluate their options and determine the optimal crane and hoist solution for their application.

The definitive resource is published by the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), an independent trade association affiliated with MHI. CMAA’s member companies are the world’s top providers of overhead traveling crane equipment and related products. As the leading advocates for the safe application and operation of overhead handling equipment, CMAA develops, publishes, and routinely reviews and updates design safety standards and specifications for a variety of crane systems and components. (Fun fact: I happen to be currently serving as the association’s President).

The CMAA Buyer’s Guide — available as a free download in American Crane’s online Resource Center in the eBooks section — is actually a collection of four documents:

  • Below-the-Hook Lifting Device contains a series of questions to be answered about the loads the device will handle (weight, dimensions, symmetry, fragility, material, surface conditions, and more); operating conditions; description of current handling process; and more.
  • Top Running & Under Running Single Girder Electric Traveling Cranes Utilizing Under Running Trolley Hoists includes key design and engineering questions to ask when vetting potential suppliers about their manufacturing processes specific to CMAA Specification 74; an inquiry data sheet which includes a series of questions about the space in which the crane and hoist will operate; operating conditions; desired speeds; load(s) to be handled; and more. It also includes an overview of crane service classifications to help buyers identify the actual conditions in which the crane and hoist will operate, and a series of recommended bridge, trolley, and hoist speeds based on the system’s total load capacity.
  • Top Running & Gantry Type Multiple Girder Electric Overhead Traveling Cranes features the same inquiry points in the Single Girder version, only specific to CMAA Specification 70.
  • The Buyer’s Guide Companion pertains to both the Single and Multiple Girder Buyer’s Guides. It offers detailed explanations of why it is important to ask potential suppliers each question about adherence to CMAA Specifications 74 and 70, and how those answers may impact the safety, function, operation, and lifespan of the selected crane and hoist combination.

Additionally, at American Crane, we’ve developed two separate publications that supplement CMAA’s guides: How to Choose the Right Crane: A Crane Buyer’s Guide and How to Choose the Right Hoist: A Hoist Buyer’s Guide. Both of these documents are also free downloads located in the eBooks section of our online Resource Center. Whereas the CMAA documents are more engineering focused, our publications offer a broader, less technical perspective on key crane and hoist selection considerations, as well as an overview of the types of solutions available.

Finally, I urge you to leverage the knowledge of an experienced crane and hoist equipment professional, including suppliers, manufacturers, and vendors. While publications are a great resource, nothing compares to partnering with a company that has the breadth of expertise in designing and engineering a broad range of crane and hoist solutions. American Crane’s experts are always available to help you better evaluate your overhead handling options, as well as determine the optimal solution for your needs. Connect with a project specialist today.