A failure of any part of a crane can have a number of negative consequences for your company. A breakdown will inevitably lead to downtime and delayed operations, which is extremely frustrating and can be damaging to your company’s reputation and productivity.

Luckily, you can avoid these repercussions through regular crane maintenance that will ultimately improve the overall condition of your crane, as well as reducing the downtime that results from a breakdown. This will improve productivity amongst workers who don’t have to deal with faulty equipment.


How does a crane become defective?

A crane can become defective or break down for a number of reasons. While misuse, abuse and other issues can contribute to the overall failure of a crane, a common reason for it becoming damaged over time is often due to issues that can’t be avoided, such as environmental conditions.

Environmental Conditions

Different environments can affect the life of a crane and, because of this, cranes that operate in certain environments should be checked more often. Some of the conditions that can affect how a crane operates are:

Weather conditions for outdoor cranes

Over time, the effect that weather can have on a crane can be detrimental to its total life service. Cold and damp weather in particular can cause serious corrosion.

Conditions for indoor cranes

Extremely hot temperatures can affect cranes in a number of ways. Constant humidity can cause parts of a crane to corrode or become damp, which can affect electrical components and brakes. In hot and dry environments, dust can get into the crane’s electrical and electronic components and cause them to malfunction. 

Extreme chemical environments can also have substantial consequences on a crane due to the corrosive gases and fumes that arise from the chemical process, such as those found in galvanizing plants. 

It isn’t possible to completely avoid environmental conditions that can damage a crane, however, it is possible to help a crane withstand them through regular maintenance to ensure it’s operating as safely and efficiently as possible.


Crane Inspections (Thorough Examination)

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) require companies have a thorough examination carried out on their cranes to ensure they are safe to use. These inspections should happen at regular intervals, including:

  • Before the crane is used for the first time
  • At regular intervals thereafter, not exceeding 12 months
  • Following exceptional circumstances, such as significant modification damage or failure.

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Crane Maintenance (PUWER)

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), regulation 5, requires every employer to ensure that work equipment, including cranes is maintained and kept in good working order.

The frequency of maintenance is based on a number of factors:

  1. Frequency of use or duty cycles
  2. Operational environments
  3. Variety of operations – whether the crane is lifting to its maximum capacity all the time
  4. Risk to health from any malfunction or failure.

All Original Equipment Manufacturers and The Health & Safety Executive stress the importance of performing routine checks on cranes, either at the start of each day or the start of each shift.

Regular usage can cause wear to key crane components over time. For example, hoist ropes and crane wheels. This degradation, if not properly monitored, can lead to the crane’s unreliability, or even failure, which can be damaging for the welfare of the operators, productivity and possibly higher repair costs. 

To help carry out these checks, you should use a Daily Inspection Checklist. This will help you identify any issues with a crane and provide written proof that the checks have been carried out. 

These are just some examples of what you should be checking:

  • Electrical cables: Do they appear loose or damaged?
  • Hoist rope: Does it appear kinked or twisted, or can you see any broken strands?
  • Controls and safety devices: Are these fully operational and working in the right directions, or are any of them damaged?
  • By identifying any of these issues and evidencing them through a written record, you can help to ensure that your crane is safe to use and that it is being maintained in line with the regulations. This will also keep a potential breakdown at bay, as well as reduce the overall cost to your company due to the downtime caused by an out-of-service crane.

Having your cranes professionally maintained, ensures that the risk of equipment failing is significantly reduced. By doing this, you decrease the need for urgent repairs because all issues are recorded, then monitored or rectified. Therefore, the potential of a breakdown is ultimately minimised, as is downtime.

To help you choose the best provider for your crane maintenance services, we’ve put together a short guide: How to select a crane service provider.

In this guide, we have outlined all the questions you need to ask and everything you need to look out for from your inspection provider, from what accreditations they have to how they perform inspections.

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