Any special considerations for an overhead crane installation actually begin during the quotation process. During that process, the overhead crane installer will review generic drawings of the crane equipment and review blueprints or building floor plans to give their best estimate of what it will take to install an overhead crane in the customer’s facility.
Installing a Crane in a New Construction Facility
Ideally, you’re installing an overhead crane into a new construction facility and the Engineers and Project Managers can work with your building construction contractors right from the start. This gives them more freedom and flexibility to design the building to accommodate an overhead crane system.The manufacturer can provide a construction contractor with crane loads and also help calculate building support requirements for the crane system. The contractor can provide the crane manufacturer with drawings that allow the manufacturer to incorporate the crane design right into the building design and prints.In rare cases, you crane for sale may be able to design and build the facility around the application of the crane. This truly allows you to accommodate all design requirements including hook height, lift, span, and any foundation or structural requirements. This type of upfront planning is the most cost-effective way to help you accommodate the space required to operate an overhead crane, as well as lay out your production areas, design work cells, and maximize storage and floor space.Heck, if an overhead crane is one of the first items installed in the building, you can even utilize the crane to help with the construction and erection of the building and other equipment in the facility.Installing a Crane in an Existing Building StructureUnfortunately, most crane installations don’t occur in a brand new facility with a flexible installation time frame and a blank slate to design and build the structure around the crane itself. In most cases, the design and engineering team has to retrofit an overhead crane and its support structure into a space that wasn’t originally designed for a crane system.To further complicate things, production is already up and running with employees moving about and machinery and other equipment in operation—all creating obstacles for getting installation equipment and materials into the building.Installing an overhead crane in an existing building requires a thorough understanding of the current building’s structural supports. You will most likely have to bring in a third-party to perform structural surveys of the following:
Support beams or columns
Foundation and flooring (concrete, dirt, gravel, etc.)
Any existing runway structures
In most cases, these load surveys need to be performed by a third-party civil or structural engineer and are the responsibility of the customer to coordinate and facilitate prior to the installation. A crane installer may be able to help coordinate the effort, but they will not perform the surveys or load ratings themselves. The results of these ratings can determine if the crane is supported from the roof, is a free-standing design, or can be tied back to existing supports.The deadweight of the crane, or the loads on the structure which remain fixed even when the crane is not performing a lift, need to be considered. Ceiling beams, flooring, and support beams can be reinforced with internal bracing, or can be totally redesigned to spread the load between multiple points versus a single point.Free and Clear Access to the FacilityThe Project Managers and installers should have a clear understanding of how they’re going to get the crane equipment and any other equipment required for installation into and out of the building and yard. This equipment can include any of the following:
Semi-trucks, trailers, and flatbeds
Mobile installation cranes to lift the bridge and runway beams
For a wide span crane system, it’s a good idea to have the installers come out and do a dry run prior to the installation date. A tape measure can be used to mock up the length of the beams that need to be maneuvered through the facility and a couple of guys can plan a route to safely and efficiently move material to the installation site.It also helps them determine if any building panels need to come off, if any fencing needs to be temporarily removed from the yard, and identifies potential obstructions within the facility that may affect installation efficiency.HeadroomAnother often overlooked consideration is headroom within the facility. If you’ve designed a crane system that just meets OSHA’s 3” minimum overhead clearance requirement, how do you plan on erecting the crane itself? You may not have enough headroom to use a mobile crane or man lift to pick the beams up to erect the crane’s runway and bridge structures.You may need to leave off a building panel for a new construction facility, or use a skylight or other means of roof entry on an existing facility. It’s better to plan for that ahead of time, than to realize it’s an issue on the day of the installation—potentially racking up additional charges for a longer than expected installation.Production CostsIf you’re installing an overhead crane into an existing building, then you have to consider what type of production may be affected by the crane installation. Are there permanent work cells that need to be maneuvered around? What type of other equipment or machinery may cause obstructions for the installers? Do you plan to have production up and running during the installation?If the installers need to work around production or operating machinery in your facility, they need to know that upfront so they can accurately quote and develop a timeline for your installation.However, sometimes the cost of shutting down production is just too high. Understanding how production downtime can affect your bottom line will help you determine if it’s better to have the installers work while your other equipment is in operation, or if you can schedule an installation to occur during off-hours.You can schedule an overhead crane installation during the evenings, on weekends, or even on holidays.However, you should know that non-standard installations typically come at a higher rate than the standard hourly rate because the installers are working non-traditional hours and may have to run continual shifts to complete the installation during the desired time frame.Not Being Ready When the Installers Show UpSome overhead crane manufacturers require 30 days change notice to the agreed-upon install date, and other manufacturers may only require 7 days prior to make any changes to the scheduled install date. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the “point of no return” for your overhead crane installation.Once the process gets rolling, there’s really no way to stop it as the crane and installation equipment is probably en route to your facility. Also, consider all of the different people that will be involved in the installation process and all of the effort involved to coordinate their schedules:
Mechanical installers and mechanical assemblers
Riggers, who will do the majority of the unloading and setting up of equipment
Your agreement with the installer will specify that if any type of delay occurs within that 7-30 day cancellation window, you will incur significant charges related to paying employee wages, and rental and storage of equipment.It is so important that you keep in constant communication with the crane installer and notify them immediately of any issues or concerns that could delay their installation time frame.