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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Employees move in and out of manufacturing facilities and shipping/receiving areas many times during a normal work day. When doing so, they must coexist with a wide variety of large and dangerous equipment.
Overhead lifting systems work within a specific area to limit potential risks posed to employees and bystanders. Doing so allows lifting equipment to operate as efficiently as possible without affecting your facility’s safety levels.
Properly implemented overhead lifting systems allow product to be transported safely. Have you considered the costs related to OSHA citations, increased workers’ comp rates, potential lawsuits, medical expenses, and the temporary or permanent replacement of an injured employee? These issues cost employers billions of dollars annually. This makes investing in the safest lifting and moving systems more than just ideal—doing so is a practical, cost-saving proposition.
Inspection Requirements for Overhead Cranes and Parts
Overhead Crane Requirements
Routine inspections are required to guarantee continued safe operation of overhead cranes because of the size and weight of the objects they regularly lift and transport overhead. Whether a crane is new or altered, an initial inspection is necessary before it can be used.
Once overhead cranes are placed into service, they require two unique types of inspections:
- Frequent inspections, which occur daily to monthly
- Periodic inspections, which are completed 1–12 times per year
These types of inspection are intended to examine key components of the crane. This helps to determine the extent of malfunction, deterioration, or wear and tear on the crane’s components.
Items that Need Inspection and Their Frequency
The following items require daily inspection:
- Functional operating mechanisms: These systems must be checked for maladjustment
- Hydraulic and air system components: Valves, lines, tanks, drain pumps, and other components must be checked for deterioration or deficiency
- Crane hooks: These must be checked for cracks or deformation
There are also several features that require monthly inspections or other actions:
- Rope and end connections: These must be run to check for broken strands or wear every month
- Hoist chains and end connections: These must be checked for distortion, twit, excessive wear, or anything else that may interfere with their proper function or cause them to stretch beyond their manufacturer’s recommendations
- Written records: All records must be carefully updated with each inspection that is performed
Other inspections are performed on an as needed basis. Test functional operating mechanisms for excessive wear regularly. This may be daily or monthly depending on the amount of use your crane system gets. Rope reeving inspections should be completed as needed or recommended per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Maintenance and Design Requirements
OSHA specifies a number of design requirements pertaining to the construction of the crane’s cab and its controls. OSHA also outlines many regulations that govern the cab’s lighting, footwalks, ladders, and stairways. OSHA recommendations additionally cover the following components:
- Bridge and trolley bumpers
- Hoist, holding, trolley, and bridge brakes
- Electrical components
- Hoisting equipment
- Warning devices
You must implement a preventative maintenance program according to the recommendations of the crane manufacturer. If you detect any unsafe conditions or deteriorated components during your required inspections, you must complete maintenance before you can use the crane again.
Only designated personnel are allowed to perform the necessary repairs and maintenance. The requirements of 29 CFR 1910.147, the control of hazardous energy or tagout/lockout, should be used to de-energize the crane.
Learn More About American Crane’s Lifting Solutions
Maintaining effective overhead crane safety practices is crucial for preserving equipment and employee safety. American Crane builds a wide range of lifting devices designed to comply with OSHA regulations and maximize safety on your production floor.
To learn more about how to ensure your critical lifts comply with the strictest safety standards, download our free eBook, “No Room for Error: A Guide to Critical Lift.” If you would like to learn more about American Crane’s services and capabilities, don’t hesitate to contact us today.
Thanksgiving Campaign Will Benefit Greater Berks Food Bank
The community we call home is important to us at American Crane, and we love getting the chance to give back. This November, we’re launching a campaign with the Greater Berks Food Bank to help feed hungry families for the holidays.
With every parts order placed during the month of November, the American Crane team will donate a can of food to the charity. Donations support their full network of programs, including providing healthy meals, emergency food supplies, a food pantry, as well as specific initiatives for youth and seniors in need.
The Greater Berks Food Bank has supported our area since 1983, and is dedicated to feeding over 60,000 people each year. Without food donations this organization would not be able to accomplish their mission.
With 40,000 standard cranes and hoists, rigging items, trolleys, lifting devices, spare parts and specialized products in our online store, there are plenty of ways to pitch in and help. Even specialized hoist orders contribute to the effort, including:
American Crane’s online parts store offers a vast inventory to support heavy lifting needs in a variety of industries. Standard and customized hoists, cranes and material handling solutions are just the beginning of their 80,000 piece catalogue.
For special projects and needs beyond the standard catalogues, our Service and Parts Department provides load testing, retrofit, product support, outage support, and upgrades, OSHA and other inspections, spare parts and custom fabrications.
Check out our online store now, or submit a request for more information on your custom order. If you’d like to get involved directly with our friends at the Greater Berks Food Bank, learn more about what they do at www.berksfoodbank.org. Cheers to the holiday season!
How One Team Handles Materials, Problems, and More
Solving complex problems with real customer impact is what we do at American Crane & Equipment Corporation.
From concept to physical existence, our team builds solutions for companies of all kinds. Our environment is dedicated to problem-solving from the inside out — by definition, our company fosters the appreciation of all members’ creative diversity through trust, respect, and openness.
This dedication is a huge part of American Crane’s goal as a company. We seek to increase our competitive advantage through improving overall company efficiency by managing and leveraging this creative diversity. It improves communication and teamwork and has led to reduced friction costs and sustainable organizational success.
This problem-solving culture is reflected in every machine we make — overhead lifting systems from American Crane are designed to solve problems in workplaces of all kinds.
Hooks, hoists, magnets, and other devices affixed to overhead cranes can lift, move, and place loads for maximum facility coverage. Their range can span a narrow corridor for a dedicated task, or be designed to span an entire facility, moving any material for any process.
Simply versatile, this type of machine is similar to a crane, designed to lift and move freely suspended loads. They’re useful in manufacturing facilities as well as in construction and warehousing environments, using wire, rope, or chain to move materials.
This unique overhead lifting solution runs on tracks in either a single circuit or a route network. Installed directly into the roof of a facility, one or more carriers traverse the tracks to transport materials. They’re ideal for dangerous or hard-to-reach applications, eliminating the opportunity for human error with the fixed track system.
Each of these systems can be adapted and engineered to solve a company’s specific problems. Additionally, they do so while taking up minimal space, being installed along the edges or — in the case of monorails — on the roof of a facility. As a strong, long-lasting high-load solution, these machines offer durability and versatility in moving a wide variety of materials and containers, making workflow easy and effective.
Beyond all of these benefits, these overhead lifting systems reduce injuries and physical stress on employees. Workplace safety is the number one priority at American Crane. We are devoted to maintaining a safe, healthy work environment, because we value our employees as individuals and as part of our overall success.
We’re proud to be able to share tools to help solve problems and enhance wellbeing and safety for our fellow manufacturers. Learn more about our problem-solving solutions by downloading our free eBook, The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Overhead Equipment.
October is a month full of awareness campaigns and holidays – some more widely recognized than others. We’ve become accustomed to seeing football players don bright pink shoes and gloves in support of breast cancer awareness; we look forward to seeing what crazy costumes people can come up with for Halloween; and for the perennially stressed, there’s even Moment of Frustration Day to let out all of that pent up energy (not that this is ever an issue in our office).
But here at American Crane, we feel it’s important to celebrate and promote some additional holidays that particularly matter to those of us in the industrial space. In October, for example, we celebrated Manufacturing Day on Friday, October 3rd, and we’re also pleased to celebrate Nuclear Science Week this month, which runs from October 20th to the 24th. This is a national event aiming to educate people about the field of nuclear science. Each year, one U.S. city is chosen to host the main Nuclear Science Week event, and this year it’s Seattle’s turn. Across the country, numerous events will be taking place before, during and after the actual week-long celebration. For a full schedule of events, check out the Nuclear Science Week Calendar of Events.
As October winds down, what other events are you celebrating this month? Let us know on Twitter!