Don't Get Burnt! When To Do Overhead Crane Preventative Maintenance

I took my daughter to the beach over the summer. We applied sunscreen according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent the unnecessary pain of sunburn. After hours of sunshine and salty air we emerged unscathed. 

While celebrating my parental victory, I noticed a direct link between the sunscreen I had applied and the preventative maintenance (PM) needs that I preach to clients. Unfortunately, PM is not always given the commitment it demands. I have seen too many situations where PM requirements were neglected because operations were running smooth only to result in a catastrophic failure. So, let us revisit the previous scenario. Do you apply sunscreen before or after your skin is feeling burnt? 

At the top of many industrial manufacturing operations exists a series of cranes and hoists that lift production capabilities. These overhead cranes are expected to operate safely and reliably. Operational failure can lead to reduced or halted production, an expensive lawsuit, debilitating fines, or loss of life. Fortunately, steps can be taken to prevent dire system failures and maintain a safe and reliable job site. When performed properly, preventative maintenance can save time, money, and lives.

Not only is PM important to maintain optimal operational status, it is also required by law. OSHA states in section 1910.179(l)(1) - Preventive maintenance. A preventive maintenance program based on the crane manufacturer’s recommendations shall be established. Keep in mind that an effective PM program should not be limited to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Owners and operators should consult with qualified individuals to establish a program for your unique operations.

Benefits of a preventative maintenance program includes:

Increased safety and reliability– Following a routine PM program will help to identify small issues before they become major failures. Routine maintenance increases safety, maintains equipment performance, allows component integrity to be monitored, and reduces the likelihood of unplanned downtime.

Prolonged life– Certified technicians will ensure the manufacturer’s recommendations are followed as well as unique system needs to limit stress to components that could result in premature loss. Routine maintenance should follow strict servicing intervals based on time or usage to prevent early wear and tear and monitor areas of concern.

Reduced downtime– Preventative maintenance programs will include inspections that may require scheduled downtime. During these scheduled inspections, system components will be evaluated for potential integrity risks. This allows concerns to be resolved before large-scale failures occur—keeping operations running more efficiently and for less money in repairs.

Lower total maintenance costs– Due to a lowered rate of breakdowns and catching symptoms before they result in major operational problems on overhead cranes there will be a lesser impact to the company’s bottom line. Scheduled maintenance requires fewer technician hours compared to most emergency troubleshooting and repair scenarios.

Increased employee productivity and morale-- When management is proactive at prioritizing employee welfare and safety, the result is increased trust and higher overall engagement within the workforce. When this happens, productivity and morale increase, making the workplace more efficient and enjoyable. 

Preventative maintenance is imperative to the safety and reliability of overall system performance. Establishing a preventative maintenance program can be the difference between realizing profits and falling below the break-even line. Be proactive in the life of your equipment and ensure the safety of your employees—don’t neglect PM.

For more information on preventive maintenance programs, for the various equipment types, duty cycles and environments, please contact me at


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