Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Future Of Overhead Crane Maintenance

 Note: This article was originally published a year ago in Industrial Lift & Hoist Magazine. Please check out the original article

New technology is developed for three simple reasons: to have an easier life, to save a life, or to save us money. With the innovations of overhead crane technology, the same applies.  When you think of the future of crane maintenance what do you think about? For all the crane operators out there we know that the way they operate has changed drastically. Variable frequency drives have allowed operators to be more efficient and safer when operating a crane.  But what about servicing a crane? Has anything changed there? Is there any difference from the way a crane is serviced yesterday or today and way it will be serviced 10 years from now?  With the technology that has been developed in the last 20 years I am in wonder of what the future could hold for crane maintenance.  I have been amazed at the advancements in overhead crane maintenance in recent years. A lot has changed but do you know about it?

When an overhead crane technician troubleshoots your crane they are inspecting as they see it. Just like an auto mechanic, if your crane is acting up but works fine during the troubleshooting process it is harder for the technician to find the problem. Several innovations such as condition monitors have been developed over the years from a few crane manufacturers that would allow the technician to see past history of the cranes usage. This helped them see any issue that may have caused a crane malfunction.  This could be overloads, usage hours, crane starts, load swings, and overheating.  However, this is by far not new crane technology. This was the newest technology over two decades ago. Data collectors have been available since the 80’s. 

The future of crane maintenance takes “proactive” to a new level; technology that can predict when there will be a crane failure.  Imagine being able to troubleshoot your crane without stopping production and without even dispatching a technician to your site. You could find symptoms of wearing components before they are problematic and get the components replaced reducing costly downtime, or getting a text message telling you that a crane operator just picked a load over capacity. This is an excellent way to monitor your operators habits and will help focus on operator training that may be required.  This technology is real time analysis and remote monitoring. Real time analysis is a safety, and production feature that was not available previously. With this newest technology you have the ability to find an issue before it becomes a breakdown. Real time analysis has been available for quite some time. Over the years I have seen real time analysis on my customer’s equipment in their facility. On overhead cranes however this is a new idea; an idea that will revolutionize the crane servicing industry. Just think that before you have to place a trouble call, someone is already monitoring your crane. If an issue develops then a remote team has the ability to troubleshoot your crane without even being on your property. This is a time and money saver especially if your overhead crane maintenance provider is not nearby.  If there is a need to send a technician to your site, the remote team representative will call you and inform of what they found. The reports will also inform you if you have a piece of equipment that is not suitable for the application that it is being used for.

This is an evolution of overhead crane maintenance.  Maintenance can now be performed based on actual usage instead of a calendar. This future technology is available now on select Konecranes CXT wire rope hoists and Smarton® cranes. The technology is called TRUCONNECT®. You will be able to monitor your crane usage in real time online. Usage data will be reported in graphs to help you analyze the data making it easy to read. This data will allow you to optimize your productivity and your crane maintenance by viewing the life cycle of your hoist. This life cycle analysis will keep you better informed for future decisions.  Safety alerts sent straight to your phone notifying you of safety issues that can be addressed immediately instead of after the fact. 

With the development of overhead crane service technology you will get a more reliable, safer crane, and lower your investment cost at the same time. This future technology that is available for you today is only a starting point.  The future holds so much more. I recently watched a video that shared these same views.  Companies that invest in innovation will be the leaders to develop and utilize
technology like hybrid service vehicles, crane scanning visors, carbon nano-fiber hardhats, self-lubricating wire ropes, hydrogen powered cranes, and 3D laser printers that can make crane parts quickly during breakdowns. These are ideas that only Walt Disney himself could have dreamed up. But, like says, “If it can be dreamed, it can be done”.


  1. I think that it would be fun to learn how to do repairs on overhead cranes. I love learning how things work, and how to fix them. It makes a huge difference when you can take something apart and reassemble it with it working even better when you are done.


  2. I work for a fortune 50 company in the USA... We have hundreds of overhead cranes in the factory, the largest ones have capacity of around 100 tons. Because of the adversarial relationship between employers and employees, companies in the USA really don't like any sort of record keeping that could be used against them in legal conflicts. If a crane fails and causes an injury, what is going to happen is that the lawyers for the injured party are going to subpena all maintenance records for all overhead cranes in the entire factory. All of these records now become a liability for the company. If it can be argued that the records show some sort of one-off or even systemic failure or shortcoming in the maintenance decisions, if it can be argued that a failure has happened or almost happened before, then this can be used to show the company failed to take proper steps to fix it, and all of this can result in a more costly settlement or judgement. In some industries there is innovation, but at the same time, in some industries, there is reduced need for innovation because there is no direct competition. When your industry requires several 100ton cranes, well, the cost of entry into such a market means you have a virtual monopoly...

  3. I have never studied a lot about cranes, but I think it would be awesome to learn more. I love heights, and have always wanted to go up on a huge crane. Imagine how great the view of the city would be from up there.
    Emily Merrell |

  4. like emily, i have never studied about cranes before, but so far it useful,thanks

  5. Well, I have gone through some information about the cranes and it would be good to learn how to repair the cranes. It was interesting to learn how to find problem in the cranes as well as fixing them. It makes a huge difference when you can take something apart and reassemble it with it working even better when you are done.

  6. It is important to be careful around overhead cranes, especially because they can carry so much weight and it will be right above your head. That is good enough reason for anyone not to be underneath one in case of an emergency. They can get the job done quicker, but they can also be pretty dangerous at the same time.

  7. I think that it must be pretty hard to keep up with maintenance on an overhead crane. I think it's crazy that they could even do something like that at all. I feel like it would be super difficult.

  8. The future of overhead crane maintenance is really amazing. They moved from the 1980's technology to the now day technology and getting notifications on their phones. It is something that has really changed the way that people use overhead cranes.

  9. I would like to say that your blog is well-written and it contains lots of useful and up-to-date information about crane repairs and maintenance.