Mobile cranes are very flexible heavy equipment machines that let us control and manipulate any surface, no matter its height or structure. They are mostly used in construction due to their sturdy and powerful lifting mechanism, capable of carrying and transporting heavy loads – from construction materials to other heavy machines, reaching very high spaces. From building infrastructure elements to reaching problematic spots in large underground areas, a mobile crane is one of the best investments you can make, which will be recouped through massive labour savings.
However, like most things that accelerate work on a modern job site, mobile cranes are very expensive. On top of that, it is a machine that experiences serious wear over extended periods, therefore damage to various components is simply inevitable. To prolong the machine’s lifespan, equipment managers need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper maintenance, as well as repair or replacement of essential components.
In this guide, we, with the help of experts at Frontu, bring you a rundown of the maintenance requirements needed for a proper mobile crane maintenance program. Here you will learn how cranes are maintained, which technicians are needed for a complete servicing cycle, and essential tips for crane operators.
How Does a Mobile Crane Work?
A mobile crane uses cables and pulleys to lift and displace heavy weights, performing incredible feats of strength and dexterity. The machine allows comfortable placement of the lifted load through control of the boom – a telescopic arm that extends to reach heavy objects or transport them to the desired position.
The extendable sections are usually made of high-strength materials, as any damage to its structural integrity creates unsafe conditions on the work site. At the end of the boom, you have a hook that latches on to the load, ensuring a sturdy lift.
If the mobile crane shows no signs of damage during compliance inspections and routine maintenance procedures, the operator uses its hydraulic system to control the boom’s height and length, stabilise the machine with outriggers, and control equipment with precise movements that preserve the life of each component, as well as avoid the risk of injury to fellow employees.
Mobile cranes control moving parts and generate work output with the help of a hydraulic system, which delivers pressurised fluids to the machine’s cylinders to generate force that is critical for force generation and stable control.
How do you conduct proper mobile crane maintenance?
Mobile cranes are powerful industrial machines that endure long operation hours in harsh work conditions. Because they stay operational for up to 10 hours at a time, a proper routine maintenance schedule is needed.
To keep the mobile crane in the best possible condition, the general maintenance framework focuses on the frequency of service and repair tasks. However, not all components are created equal. For example, if the boom is well-maintained and in good working order, the crane operator can get away with weekly inspections of the boom and hook to identify potential problems and signs of damage, wear, or rust.
Meanwhile, outriggers stabilise the entire mobile crane during its operation, therefore if any damages go unnoticed, the crane can collapse and tip over, endangering employee safety, and damaging or even destroying the nearby property. A proper mobile crane maintenance program begins with a daily inspection of outriggers because the stability and structural integrity of the machines depends on their optimal condition. Aside from visual checkups, outriggers receive weekly lubrication for their moving parts.
The best construction companies follow a preventative maintenance program that adheres to the manufacturer’s requirements. After daily inspections for most sensitive components, braking systems, electrical components, the counterweight system, and other components are carefully examined by a qualified person.
The Importance of Crane Inspections and Maintenance
A machine that is serviced according to statutory requirements and manufacturer’s recommendations will never be a safety risk on a construction site. As long as its stabilising extensions are kept in optimal condition, a proper mobile crane maintenance plan ensures the safety of workers and minimises the need for significant repairs or equipment downtime. With optimal fluid levels and frequent replacement of oil filters, routine maintenance procedures not only prevent damage to the machine but also guarantee efficient fuel consumption.
Even the most affordable mobile cranes come with a substantial price tag – at least £100,000 or more. For a machine that works gruelling operation hours every shift, even the smallest damages will put a dent in your budget.
While some maintenance processes can feel like non-essential work, for complex machines with high operation hours, no safety precaution can be considered excessive. Through the manufacturer’s requirements and lifting operation guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), you can get a general idea of how cranes are maintained in ideal circumstances. Then, combining this knowledge with an evaluation of workplace conditions in a current job site, you can start applying a preventative maintenance program to plan out inspections, identify signs of partial failure, and start ordering replacement parts ahead of time
Daily Inspection Checklist for Overhead Cranes
The success of your crane maintenance strategy depends on the meticulousness of visual inspections. If you do not know where to start, use this daily maintenance framework with universal procedures for all mobile cranes:
- Visual examination: look for obvious signs of damage, and inspect chains, and wires. Conduct a close visual checkup of outriggers before every shift.
- Cleaning: Mobile cranes have many moving parts that get damaged by friction, especially if dust, debris, and other contaminants settle on their surface. Clean your mobile crane after every shift.
- Electrical components: Inspect the control panel and its functionality. Look for wear and damage to cables, and notify an electrical engineer about any significant damages, malfunction, and maintenance repair needs.
- Lifting apparatus: Carefully look for any damaged links, and test the lifting capability with light weight. Maintain optimal fluid levels, and lubricate lifting components.
- Safety testing: perform a visual test of the entire machine, and look for loose or damaged parts. Test boom extension mechanism, brakes, and other parts that generate work output with the help of the hydraulic system.
Purpose of Crane Inspection and Maintenance
Crane inspections and preventative maintenance procedures keep mobile cranes safe and efficient while maximising their lifespan. From the business standpoint, crane servicing tasks are worthwhile investments that prevent the purchase of new machines and overpriced replacement parts.
By keeping repair costs and equipment downtime to a minimum, as well as training operators to conduct basic crane inspections, equipment managers instil confidence in workplace safety and reliability of maintained machines.
Proper Record Keeping for Crane Maintenance and Inspection
By keeping thorough logs of any signs of wear or damage, equipment managers prepare the machine for thorough maintenance procedures performed by skilled technicians. Fortunately, nowadays, both the record-keeping and crane inspection procedures can be improved and simplified with the help of heavy equipment software. By integrating construction machinery into one control panel, experts can make adjustments to the maintenance plan to counteract unexpected damages.
Technological advancements have also turned a modern mobile crane into a complex machine, with sensors tracking the state of its components. While visual examinations are still necessary, these safety precautions help identify damages that often go unnoticed.
Common Mobile Crane Inspection Mistakes
While a properly serviced mobile crane offers great assistance on the construction site, a neglected crane with gradually failing components is dangerous for everyone around. The biggest crane maintenance mistakes stem from unfinished examinations and neglect of monotonous procedures. Paired with a lack of training, operators may not fully comprehend the consequences of mobile crane malfunctions.
Fortunately, most crane inspection mistakes can be resolved by following a strict maintenance schedule. First, start with components and procedures that depend on daily servicing, and continue adding less frequent servicing tasks. A dissection of mobile crane maintenance needs into small steps will ensure that each task, no matter how simple or boring, will reach its completion.
After covering the necessities and recommendations for proper mobile crane maintenance, you can start applying servicing protocols to your machines. However, it is worth mentioning that the maintenance needs for mobile cranes are not universal. Your machine can have very different demands, hence it is crucial to read and follow recommendations in the owner’s manual.