Archive: Mar 2022

Bringing GRIT to MHI’s Board of Governors

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Just a couple of months ago, in December 2021, I was honored to be named to the MHI Board of Governors. Established in 1945, MHI is an international trade association that has represented the material handling, logistics, and supply chain industry for more than 75 years. The organization offers education, standards development, networking, and solution sourcing for its members, their customers, and the industry through programming and events — including the MODEX and ProMat tradeshows.

Leading MHI is its appointed Board of Governors. This group consists of the Officers and Board Governors of MHI plus the Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel of the corporation. The Board of Governors serves as the Board of Directors for MHI.

In American Crane’s 50 years of operation, participation in MHI has always been important to our company. As a forward-thinking, innovative company, taking leadership within the material handling field as a whole has been part of our organization’s vision from the beginning.

I was particularly honored to discover that I am only the second woman to ever have been appointed to MHI’s Board of Governors. It’s no secret that the material handling field — like many industries — has long been dominated by men. As a woman who grew up in this industry, I feel that increasing diversity among all levels is critically important to its continued success. For that reason, I was delighted to join MHI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee when it was first formed a year ago.

Creating inclusive and diverse workplaces brings different perspectives together on the same team. That variety of viewpoints and experiences allows companies — and industries — to solve problems more effectively. It’s a perspective we embrace fully at American Crane. It’s been a delight to share our company’s vision with other MHI members as they work to create an environment that fosters the appreciation of all employees’ creative diversity through trust, respect, and openness.

Further, American Crane has proudly served as a long-standing Executive Member of Crane Manufacturer’s Association of America (CMAA). An independent trade association that is affiliated with MHI, CMAA’s vision is to be the most trusted knowledge resource for overhead cranes. It works to achieve that objective through its mission: to deliver technical specifications and resources that promote safety in the design, operation, and maintenance of overhead cranes. CMAA’s engineering specifications are widely recognized as the preferred design standard for overhead traveling cranes, integrated crane systems, and crane components.

My father, Oddvar Norheim — American Crane’s past President and CEO — believed strongly in MHI, and in CMAA’s mission in particular. Not only did he serve a term as CMAA’s President, but he also assisted in the development of those recommended standards and specifications by dedicating several of American Crane’s own engineers to help in their development. Today, that tradition continues as I, too, have been heavily involved in CMAA since I joined American Crane two decades ago. Currently, I serve as CMAA’s President.

My involvement in these industry groups was among the reasons MHI CEO John Paxton cited when announcing my new Board of Governors role. He writes:

Karen provides clear, direct, and results-focused leadership of the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA). She brings her leadership experience as the President and CEO of American Crane and applies that to raise the Overhead Crane industry for all members. Based on her success leading CMAA, Karen was recently elected to the MHI Board of Governors’ where she provides those same leadership skills into the MHI strategic planning process.

In addition, she is a member of the MHI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. I really enjoy working with Karen. She is a collaborative leader who is direct, to the point, and has a passion for delivering results. Her company mantra is “GRIT Matters,” and she brings that GRIT to the MHI Board. We really appreciate her time as a volunteer supporting several MHI initiatives.

I look forward to continuing to give back to the industry while helping to chart its course for the future as a member of the MHI Board of Governors.

 

When It Comes To Best Practices In Overhead Lifting Safety, Pay Attention To The Details

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As with so many things in life, it’s the little things that make a big difference. The same holds true of overhead lifting equipment and its operation: paying attention to the small details can have a big impact on the safety and productivity of a facility.

That’s why the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), an organization dedicated to promoting the standardization of crane design and operation — as well as uniform quality and performance — works hard to meet its mission. That is, to deliver technical specifications and resources that promote safety in the design, operation, and maintenance of overhead cranes.

Even after poring over those specifications, standards, and resources, owners and operators of cranes often still have questions. Many of those questions surround some of the key details that should be taken into consideration when buying, operating, maintaining, and inspecting overhead lifting equipment.

For that reason, CMAA — along with its partners in MHI’s Overhead Alliance, the Hoist Manufacturers Institute (HMI), and the Monorail Manufacturers Association (MMA) —worked together to develop their latest publication, the Overhead Lifting Best Practices Guide. The document was written in collaboration with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Overhead Lifting Best Practices Guide gives owners and operators of overhead lifting equipment a comprehensive, single-source reference about some of the key tools and techniques — including the little details — that contribute to a safer operation. As the current President of CMAA and having worked in the industry myself for 20 years, I have seen the operational safety and productivity benefits that result from following these guidelines and standards. The 18 best-practice topics include:

  • Qualifications of overhead crane and hoist operator to ensure that personnel have been properly trained to safely use the equipment.
  • Fall protection for crane structures, specifically lifelines and harnesses that have been properly designed to prevent or stop the accidental fall of workers and their tools while working at height.
  • Capacity markings on cranes, hoists, and monorails to indicate to an operator the maximum rated load the system was designed to handle.
  • Safety signs — such as decals, labels, placards, cord tags, or other markings — indicate hazards and the safety precautions that should be taken to avoid them.
  • Audible and visible warning alarms that indicate to the operator and other personnel in the area of the crane’s operation that the equipment is in use.
  • Load tests to verify that the equipment will perform all functions (lift, lower, travel the length of the bridge and of the runway) while supporting a test load equal to the maximum rated capacity of the equipment. These are performed at commissioning, after any modifications are made, and during certain inspections.
  • Conductor bar systems, specifically bare uninsulated copper wire conductors positioned along the length of a runway to supply power to overhead equipment, and a fourth, unpowered bar for grounding the system.
  • Conductor bar guards and how to attach and maintain them so that they prevent inadvertent contact of power wires with hoist ropes, block, or load.
  • Upper limit switches are designed to cut off the power automatically at (or near) the maximum limit of travel for a crane motion, such as lift/lower, trolley traverse, or bridge traverse. This prevents damage to the overhead equipment that may result in a load drop.
  • E-stops and safety disconnects, their location, accessibility, and how they are to be used to cut off the power to the overhead handling equipment outside of the regular operating controls in the event of an emergency or loss of control.
  • E-stops for powered, below-the-hook devices that attach a load to the hook, such as vacuum lifters, electro-magnets, and grippers. These E-stops operate independently of the overall crane system, allowing the operator to disengage the power solely for the below-the-hook device if an emergency or malfunction occurs.
  • Runway disconnect switches provide a backup to an E-stop as a second means to disconnect power to the crane if a malfunction or emergency happens.
  • Rail sweeps, mounted in front of the wheels on bridge and trolley end trucks, ensure that any debris or obstructions in the travel path are bumped off the railway. They prevent damage to crane wheels, axles, and bearings, as well as stop objects from passing between the rail and wheels, which could cause a derailment.
  • Trolley and bridge bumpers made of rubber, polyurethane, springs, or a hydraulic device that minimizes the force of an impact when a trolley or bridge reaches the end of its permitted travel or contacts the rail end stops at a high rate of speed. They prevent structural damage to the crane, runway, and building and should be routinely maintained and inspected.
  • Bridge and trolley brakes for slowing, stopping, holding, and controlling motion. Operators should be trained in their proper use. They save wear and tear on the bridge and trolley, as well as prevent a load from running into and damaging equipment or injuring personnel. They should be routinely maintained and inspected.
  • Guards for couplings and line shafts, whether fixed or removable, serve as a safety barrier that prevents access to dangerous areas. Any moving parts of a crane or hoist that might pose a hazard during normal operation must be guarded to prevent injury.
  • End stops limit trolley or crane bridge travel. Typically mounted to a fixed structure, they prevent damage to the equipment and are designed to engage the full surface of a bumper. They should be maintained and inspected regularly.
  • Chain containers capture and store slack hoist chains on the no-load side of the load sheave. Their use is recommended when an excess load chain is likely to interfere with the load or to create a hazard to operations or personnel.

Many of the 18 topics discussed are covered by requirements outside of those from CMAA, HMI, MMA, and OSHA. Pertinent standards from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the National Electrical Code (NEC) are also included. Each topic has a list of best practices for how to interpret those requirements, as well as how to implement or follow their directions, to create the safest overhead lifting environment possible.

Overhead Lifting Best Practices Guide is offered as a free download. I encourage you to add a copy to your library of resources. If you have any questions about the topics it covers — or about any other best practices in the safe operation and maintenance of your overhead handling equipment and its numerous safety features and devices — don’t hesitate to connect with American Crane. Our online Resources Library includes a collection of informative eBooks, videos, CAD drawings, photos, and a crane glossary.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact us. We’re happy to help.