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Everything You Need to Know About Cranes

Ever been curious about cranes? Like their bird counterparts, these heavy-duty beauties are sure to lift anyone's attention from the ground up.

If you've wondered about the mechanics of using, maintaining, or making money from one, you're reading the right article.

Simplistically, cranes are specialized machines used to move heavy objects in various directions - up, down, and even sideways.

There are many different types of cranes. They come in different sizes and shapes for specific purposes.

Cranes are either mobile or static. Mobile cranes can are classed as truck-mounted, floating cranes, crawlers, and rough-terrain cranes. Common static cranes include the overhead, tower, and level-luffing cranes.

Let’s talk a little history

Cranes and crane-like machines have featured many things in ancient civilizations. From the Greek, Near East, and Roman empires, many variants emerged.

The predecessor of the modern-day crane is thought to be the olden-day Greek crane. We have Sir William Armstrong to thank for the modern hydraulic crane [1].

He was a brilliant industrialist of the Industrial Revolution. He created a crane running on water pressure and went ahead to add several useful tweaks to his original idea.

What exactly are cranes used for?

Cranes find so many useful applications in both rugged farms and sleek constructions. They mean a lot to farmers, engineers, construction, and transport workers. Say you have a truckload of heavy goods. Having a crane would make offloading so much easier.

On construction sites, large-weight building materials will need to be moved from one point to another. Cranes to the rescue!

They seem like complicated and powerful equipment. One of the biggest questions is how much a crane can lift. Quite a significant amount. A fully functional crane can carry as much as 20 tons.

As per structure, cranes are made of different complex parts that work together as a unit. Some of the basic parts will include the:

  • Upper arm

  • Lower arm

  • Hook

  • Cab

  • Jib

  • Controls

  • Hoists

  • Wire rope

  • Boom

  • Wheels

  • Counterweight

The crane boom is sure to catch the eye. It’s the part of the crane that holds the load. This important part is the mobile top part of a crane, especially the truck-mounted.

How are cranes operated?

Cranes are useful but can be quite dangerous. Structures, vehicles, and other equipment may be damaged by cranes. Humans and animals may suffer serious injuries from crane accidents.

Using a crane requires the right training to enable you to operate it safely and efficiently. You'd also require some specific personal skills. This is reserved for professional crane operators.

Wondering how long it takes to become a crane operator? Of course, this would depend on the kind of crane and type of training. Some types of cranes require more specialized skills.

It takes an average of 4-8weeks. However, it can run into months. Kudos to the people at the ‘top’. Pun intended.

To become a certified crane operator, you would have to undergo a series of practical and theoretical training. If you live in the U.S, you’d have to obtain certification (and licensing requirements].

Steps to take

  1. Firstly, you would have to be old enough. For the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), 18 years old is the youngest you should be.

  2. There must be some evidence of high school education.

  3. Next, you would have to undergo training with both didactic and hands-on components for the required duration.

  4. Also, aspiring crane operators have to apply for certification. You may wish to go for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) certificate. This gives you a competitive edge for employment.

You may choose to get certified by the Crane Institute; very similar to NCCCO. [2] With any of these, you are set to lift your crane operator career to the next level.

  1. As with any other machinery, hands-on training cannot be overemphasized. You're even more employable if you've undergone an apprenticeship.

This is worth it in the end. Busy crane operators smile to the bank every year. That smile may be worth an average of about $50,464 annually! [3]

NB - This varies with your location.

What about the ‘logistics’?

How do crane operators go to the bathroom? It's not usually what you think. We promise! If you do need to take a leak while operating a crane, there’s often a funnel in the cab that’s connected to a toilet on the side of the crane.

Cranes are big pieces. How crane operators get to the top (literally) may have sparked your curiosity. As always, there is a technique to this and largely depends on the height of the crane.

In many scenarios, operators basically climb to the top. Sometimes, they would ride an elevator to a reasonable extent before doing the good ol’ climb. The trouble with cranes

As with other heavy equipment, you may get a crane load of trouble. There can be a barrage of mechanical issues, safety problems, and dreaded accidents. Problems may arise with the:

  • Alignment

One of the key safety mechanisms of cranes is their stability. A maligned crane simply has poorly distributed forces that can lead to serious problems. Your crane may even topple over.

  • Wire ropes

This can be quite a hazard and occurs in stages. It can range from plain corrosion to full-on snapping or slippage.

  • Wheels

Wearing is a common issue. As with automobiles, worn tire treads and wheels are often signs of a larger problem.

  • Conduction system

Apart from mechanical issues, electrical malfunctions can make operating a crane very distressing.

  • Hooks

The hooks may go out of shape or break completely. Hopefully, not with a ton of load attached. Of course, there are also common minor issues that are plain annoying. Don’t let these linger and reduce productivity. When problems do crop up, it is a great idea to act swiftly. Cranes are not exactly toys for big boys. Call in people with the right skills to promptly and safely repair your crane. As with regular vehicles, accidents may happen. These can be quite unpleasant and are best avoided.

Crane accidents occur because of the following reasons –

  1. Haphazard crane set up

Of course, this is a disaster waiting to happen. These parts work together to ensure safe and smooth operation. Square pegs need to go into square holes. Also, confirm that there are no loose bolts.

  1. Bad weather

As you expect, you need clarity and steadiness to use cranes safely. Poor visibility and strong winds are risk factors for crane accidents.

If the weather conditions are bad, wait it out before mounting a crane.

  1. The wrong selection

Bear in mind that one size doesn't fit all. For any application, the right crane should be selected. The correct advisory will save you money from repairs and bodily harm.

  1. Dangerous conditions around the crane

Operators should be aware of anything that poses a hazard in the operating environment. This may well be stacks of construction material or even the terrain.

  1. Overambitious use

Do not use a crane for purposes different from the manufacturer’s instructions. It is a bad idea to get too ambitious with cranes. If there's something wrong with your crane setup, don’t do it yourself. Instead, contact a professional crane repair service in New York. This will save you money, time, and unnecessary stress.


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