Daily crane inspection may not be foremost in an operator’s mind, but it is a critical practice. Truck-mounted cranes provide the lift and reach capabilities required by a variety of applications, and proper inspection is a big part of keeping them safe and productive. Many crane maintenance and repair needs can be identified during daily inspection and corrected inexpensively — long before they cause safety issues, extended equipment downtime and costly failure.
Diligent inspection of the crane can help ensure safe operation, maximize uptime and manage repair costs. The following are daily crane, wire rope, and hook inspection recommendations from one manufacturer of service trucks and truck-mounted cranes, Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. (IMT). Operators and service technicians should carefully follow manuals and applicable regulations for their specific crane when operating, inspecting and maintaining the equipment.
Daily crane inspections should be conducted by a “competent person” — defined as someone who is capable of identifying hazards and having the authority to take prompt corrective action to eliminate them.
The same inspection recommendations apply to both telescopic cranes integrated with a mechanics truck body and truck-mounted articulating cranes used for material handling.
Inspections that should be performed daily include:
All load charts, safety and warning labels and control labels for presence and legibility
All safety devices for proper operation
Control mechanisms for leaks, cracks and proper operation of all functions
Hydraulic system (hoses, tubes, fittings) for leakage and proper oil level
Crane hook’s safety latches and proper operation
Condition of wire rope
Connecting pins and pin retaining devices for proper engagement
Overall crane for damaged or missing parts, cracked welds and presence of safety covers; crane should be observed during operation for abnormal performance
Lights and alarms for proper operation
Remote control devices for proper operation
Anti-two-block device for proper operation
Electrical apparatus for malfunctioning; signs of apparent excessive deterioration, dirt or moisture accumulation.
The cost of overlooking daily inspection items can be significant in terms of safety, uptime and dollars. For example, a missing pin retainer bolt — which may cost less than $1 to replace — could cause a dropped load resulting in expensive crane and property damage. If not repaired, cracked welds could propagate to a point that the boom would need to be replaced. A blown hydraulic hose could result in an oil spill.
There are many signs of deterioration to look for in wire rope, some requiring immediate replacement and some indicating the rope should be monitored closely. Corrosion could be cause for replacement. Other reasons a wire rope might need to be replaced include:
Three broken wires in one strand or a total of six broken wires
Flat spots on the outer wires, and those outside wires are less than two-thirds the thickness of the unworn outer wire
A decrease in diameter, which indicates a core failure
Distortion such as kinking, crushing or birdcaging
Noticeable discoloration caused by heat damage
A diameter reduced from nominal size by 1/32 inch or more
Broken wire protruding or looping out from the core of the rope
Replacement wire rope may cost $300 to $400, but a dropped load due to broken rope could cause thousands of dollars of damage and/or injury.
Hooks must be monitored carefully for safety reasons. A hook should be removed from service and repaired if any of the following conditions are present:
Bending or twisting
Increased throat opening
Wear that exceeds 10 percent of the original dimension
Cracks, nicks or gouges
Deformed or malfunctioning latch
A broken or missing latch could result in a dropped load or, if found by an inspector, fines.
If maintenance items are identified during daily inspection, the crane should be taken out of service until the necessary replacement or repair is completed. IMT crane manuals feature an inspection checklist, and the company offers a Crane and Vehicle Log for recording inspections, tests, maintenance and repairs to help keep the crane in safe and productive condition.
Additional crane inspections and service should be performed according to manufacturer-recommended intervals and applicable regulations. IMT recommends performing monthly, quarterly and annual inspections, each with their own specific list of items.
With strict adherence to inspection guidelines and requirements — starting with daily inspections — operators can help ensure safe operation, minimize downtime and control repair expenses.
For more information on IMT, visit www.imt.com. IMT is on Facebook at facebook.com/iowamoldtooling and YouTube at youtube.com/iowamoldtooling.