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Production Changes Can Lead To Crane Changes

Changing The Capacity Of Your Overhead Crane

Businesses are forced to make changes frequently. Those that can't adapt  typically don't survive long in the business world. Sometimes those changes involve the manufacturing or production process and that may require changes in a comapny's crane system. One of the many benefits of an overhead crane system is the flexibility that comes with the ability to upgrade components without completely replacing the whole system. 

Hoosier Crane has the experience and expertise to help you determine if an upgrade to the capacity of your crane equipment is possible. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like us to do a feasibility study.

Here are some of the factors that impact decisions about changing the capacity of your overhead crane.

Changes in the production process

lifting a new material: Is your business handling a different material that requires a below-the-hook device? How does that change the weight of the load?

Lifting a heavier material: Your business is now lifting material that weighs more than what it has been lifting

More frequent lifts: You’ve added new production shifts and now your crane is making many more lifts than it once did. These changes can create more wear and tear on your crane system. Sometimes the demands of new production can exceed the duty cycle or crane service classification for which the crane was originally designed. That can lead to premature failure of crane components and the costs related to constant service calls could eventually exceed the cost of a capacity upgrade.

What types of overhead cranes can be upgraded?

The cranes that are the best candidates for capacity upgrades are bridge and gantry cranes. Workstation cranes and jib cranes often need to be replaced when there are significant changes in the production process. Workstation cranes often have specialized components that are engineered to work together based on the capacity, type of material, and lifting frequency. Changes to these systems are much more complex and may not be cost efficient. Businesses can change the hoist or add track, but other changes are often too expensive. Jib cranes are designed for specific capacities and are usually replaced when the capacity changes significantly.

What types of overhead cranes can be upgraded?

The cranes that are the best candidates for capacity upgrades are bridge and gantry cranes. Workstation cranes and jib cranes often need to be replaced when there are significant changes in the production process. Workstation cranes often have specialized components that are engineered to work together based on the capacity, type of material, and lifting frequency. Changes to these systems are much more complex and may not be cost efficient. Businesses can change the hoist or add track, but other changes are often too expensive. Jib cranes are designed for specific capacities and are usually replaced when the capacity changes significantly.

What crane components need upgrading?

A Hoosier Crane engineer can do an assessment of your crane’s mechanical, electrical, and structural components to determine what would need to be done to handle new production demands Listed below are the components that are most often upgraded when your crane’s capacity demands change.  

Hoist

If your crane has a built-up hoist then many of the internal parts can be changed without having to completely remove and replace the existing hoist and trolley. The internals were originally specified to meet application-specific requirements, so if you upgrade your crane’s capacity, the internal components including the gear sets and motor will need to be swapped out with more substantial parts.

Lower-duty electric or pneumatic hoists usually come as a complete system and would need to be swapped out and replaced with a heavier-duty hoist package and re-installed.

End Trucks and Wheels

One of the most common issues with overhead cranes is excessive wear to the end truck wheels. The wheels will naturally wear down due to normal use and may require more frequent maintenance, replacement, and adjustment than other components. However, a crane that is out of alignment or is moving loads outside of the capacities and service classes for which it was designed, will put extra stresses on the end truck and wheels as it moves down the runway.

Businesses can upgrade to wheels made of a harder material that is better suited for the application and for the hardness of the rail itself. A wheel that is harder than the hardness of the rail will begin to cause excessive wear to the rail or beam itself, so it’s important to make sure that the wheels are made specifically for the rail they’re running on but can also handle the added load.

Bridge, Runways, Structure

An engineer can determine what type of reinforcements may be required to strengthen the existing bridge and runway girders in order to support the new wheel loads. The beams themselves may need to be reinforced by adding a cap channel, or you may have to have specially-engineered plating designed and installed to allow the existing bridge and runway beams to handle the new loads. An engineer can also suggest changes that should be made to the bridge motor, bridge gearbox, and bridge braking systems.

There should also be an examination of the building’s foundation to make sure it can handle the crane’s new load requirements.

Controls

If changes are made to gear sets or the motor it will require changes to the crane’s drive system and controls as well. Adding in a modern control system, like a variable frequency drive,  can provide smoother acceleration and deceleration controls—which eliminates abrupt starts and stops and helps prevent load sway. Equipment that runs smoother with less load swing will help prevent everyday wear and tear on your crane equipment.

Electrification

When you increase the capacity of an overhead crane, you’re also increasing the overall amperage needed. The size of the wiring may need to be upgraded in the crane’s electrification system to accommodate the increase in amperage. Higher capacity festoon may be installed,or the conductor bar system can be removed and replaced with a higher amperage system.

According to OSHA, If the new amperage requirements exceed the existing requirements in place, then a new disconnect equipped to handle higher amperage will be required to safely disconnect power from the crane equipment in the event of an emergency.

Brake Systems

When you change to heavier loads the brake system will likely need to be changed. If you choose to upgrade your crane’s brake system at the same time that you add variable frequency drive controls, you can greatly reduce the wear and tear and maintenance on your brake system. Having a microprocessor control the motor and slow the crane’s motion instead of always using the brakes to slow down the crane, can prolong the life of the crane’s brake system.