Expert article

Five ways to decrease overhead crane downtime

Josh Childers - Training Manager

When overhead cranes break down, so does productivity. And if you’ve been there, you know how costly lost production time can be.

These five practices – from inspections to crane upgrades – can reduce the risk of crane breakdowns and downtime:

Crane operator training

While operator training may not immediately come to mind as a strategy for reducing crane downtime, I put training at the top of my list. When crane operators learn to run a crane the way it was designed to work, it will last longer. Bad operating practices or habits, on the other hand, wear down parts ahead of schedule.

A good example of a bad operating habit is side pulling – or initiating a lift at an angle rather than from a true vertical orientation. Side pulling increases wear on sheaves, rope pulleys, wire rope and the rope drum, an essential and expensive part meant to last the life of a crane.

Replacement rope drums must be made to order, adding to the length of downtime. And while wire ropes are considered a consumable component, side pulling shortens their life and raises the risk of dropped loads.

Inspections

Whether you conduct them yourself or hire a crane service provider such as Konecranes, periodic inspections reduce downtime while identifying issues when they can be most easily and cost-effectively corrected. Depending on your provider, periodic inspections may not cover critical systems that require disassembly such as gearboxes, bottom blocks, load brakes and hoist motor couplings. Ask your service provider when these systems should be inspected to avoid downtime and catastrophe.

Preventive maintenance

As a complement to inspections, follow OEM specifications for preventive maintenance of your overhead cranes. Just like changing the oil in your car, preventive maintenance is one of the most important steps you can take to keep your equipment running long-term.

Crane upgrades/modernizations

As cranes get older, parts and technology become obsolete and difficult to replace. Crane upgrades or modernizations enable you to avoid the lengthy downtime of repairing outdated equipment. And by updating your cranes with new controls, you take advantage of the latest technology, extending the useful life of your overhead cranes, enhancing safety and increasing productivity. Plus, you’re saving money compared to the cost of buying a new crane.

Remote monitoring technology

Remote monitoring technology, such as TRUCONNECT® Remote Monitoring by Konecranes, uses sensors to collect data, such as running time, motor starts, work cycles and emergency stops, providing visibility to crane usage and can be a more accurate gauge than the calendar of when to conduct inspections and maintenance.