CICA, Cranes & Lifting, Industry News, Safety

10-year major inspections, a major expense – but is there a better way?

The major inspection for cranes is easy to monitor, but if crane owners can demonstrate a willingness to fulfil requirements of a system that bases maintenance on usage, it may be able to eliminate the need for expensive inspections.

It has long been accepted that 10-year major inspections are the benchmark for crane maintenance. While it is convenient to have a measurable time frame to schedule a major inspection, this method is now under scrutiny. Time-based maintenance (TBM) also called “clock-based” maintenance, or “condition-independent” maintenance is an asset maintenance schedule based on a strict timetable.

Light vehicle maintenance is done based on usage and this is also now being considered as a more effective model for crane maintenance. It stands to reason that usage is a better measure than time, if a crane is utilised every day or if it is used only once a week – the wear and tear will differ considerably. In 2016, the standard for crane design, ISO 4301, was revised to classify cranes based on cycles, not hours.

For cranes with low utilisation rates, the ten-year major inspection guideline is impractical and introduces premature expense.  Banks, government regulators and insurance companies also use the 10-year measure, which complicates the implementation of any other system.

CICA CEO Brandon Hitch said that for another system to work, greater self-regulation is required. “In most industries where heavy machinery is used, preventative maintenance is based on utilisation, so a condition monitoring schedule based on manufacturer’s recommendations is best practice. Utilisation is a combination of how often the machine is used and how ‘hard’ the machine is worked.”

Ongoing maintenance for cranes means that maintenance issues will be detected earlier, rather than later – it is a more accurate system, but for it to work, there needs to be industry compliance.

In line with ISO 9927-1:2013, AS2550.5-2016, AS2550.11-2016, AS2550.1- 2011 and AS2550.10-2006, CICA recommends considering an alternative condition monitoring approach to the existing default practice of conducting a major inspection at 10 years. Responsibilities under workplace legislation can be met in many ways. There is no “one-size-fits all” position in relation to safety issues and workplace safety legislation explicitly allows for this as a way of encouraging safety measure innovation.

The following recommendations should be considered: Crane Design Life should be clearly broken into two types according to AS1418.1-2002[8]: a. Mechanical Components – Design Life of 10 years b. Structural Components – Design Life of 25 years.

A combination of condition monitoring and manufacturer’s recommendations are the best approach to maintain a crane. It is critical for crane owners to follow the maintenance regime outlined by the manufacturer and maintain records of crane operation, service, and maintenance.

Service and maintenance records throughout the life of the crane should be retained, e.g. photos, maintenance logbooks, service checklists, invoices, etc. These records can assist in detecting the Residual Life of the crane and crane components. Recent advancements in the CraneSafe assessment forms allow for additional record keeping during the CraneSafe inspection by endorsed CraneSafe assessors. This data will empower the crane industry in Australia to move toward a better system.

CICA members have access to resources to determine crane load spectrum and winch life which, independent of environmental factors, can be calculated to give crane owners an overview of the winch life and forecast the remaining design life of the winch based on crane operation hours and the percentage of crane rated capacity used.

The 10-year major inspection is easy to monitor which adds to its appeal, but if crane owners and hirers can demonstrate a willingness to fulfil requirements of a system that bases maintenance on usage, then the crane industry by virtue of manufacturer service intervals and record keeping, may just be able to eliminate the need for expensive major inspections.

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