When your company changes production or processes, you may need to consider increasing your lifting capability. Uprating the crane capacity of your existing equipment is often a cost-effective alternative to buying a new crane.
By Fred Rau, Crane Reliability Specialist & Modernization Engineer
If you decide it may be time to increase crane capacity, your first step is defining the capacity required for your new production or process plan. And, it is generally wise to look beyond your immediate needs. You could save your company money in the long run by taking into account projected business growth and planning a crane capacity increase to satisfy your longer range needs.
The second step is investigating the feasibility of uprating the crane capacity of your existing equipment. From experience, I know that uprating crane capacity by more than 25 percent of the original lifting capability of a crane is uncommon. But it’s not unheard of.
Determining whether your crane can be uprated
Two paths are available for determining whether a crane can be uprated to meet your new needs. The first is a structural engineering analysis.
The second option, a crane capacity uprating feasibility study, costs less and is not as in-depth as the full-scale analysis. The feasibility study focuses on the primary structural, mechanical and electrical systems of the crane and determines whether increasing the capacity of the crane is practical and, if so, what components will need to be modified or replaced.
The feasibility study helps the customer plan the next step. If the study determines that the capacity uprating is impractical, the study saves the customer the expense of the full-scale analysis. The customer then begins exploring options for new equipment.
However, if the feasibility study shows that uprating the existing crane is a workable and cost-effective option, findings from the study can form the foundation of the complete analysis, which will be used to plan and engineer the modifications required for the increased crane capacity. For example, a common modification for uprating the capacity of a bridge crane is replacement of the complete trolley and hoist assembly, while retaining the bridge structure.
Another factor that must be considered in a crane capacity uprating – independent of analyzing the crane itself – is the building structure. Typically, a civil engineering firm hired by the customer takes care of this part of the study and determines whether the building can safely support the increased crane capacity.