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Manitowoc and Grove working with major inspections for cranes

Manitowoc are aiming to facilitate easier major inspections for cranes through their improved telematics system.

Major inspections for cranes are 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 and time prohibitive inspections.

It has long been accepted that 10-year major inspections for cranes 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.

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 team at Manitowoc led by Garry Barker, Product Support Director, working in conjunction with Mike Percy from IDEAS Cranes, a crane engineering and major inspection specialist, are proposing a new monitoring system based on data captured on all Grove products which could dramatically extend the period before a major inspection is required.

Manitowoc are aiming to facilitate easier major inspections for cranes through their improved telematics system.
Data regarding the crane’s history is combined with data captured from the telematics system on the crane.

Mike has been working on major inspections for cranes for 20 years and collaborating with Grove for five. Together, they are currently completing between 15 and 20 inspections per year along with other engineering services.

“Garry and I have always seen the benefits of the current CraneSafe inspection criteria which provides third party reviews, however it doesn’t consider proactive assessment of time monitoring of components, in that they don’t account for the total life span of the crane. A requirement of the standards for extending the trigger point for a major inspection beyond seven years is an annual design life assessment. By combining with OEM guidelines we can monitor the usage of the crane so owners know what the future of the crane will look like, instead of getting to the 10th year of ownership and being forced to pay a large sum on a major inspection. 

“Our monitoring systems use data from the CraneSafe process, and then tying that in with the maintenance records and Telematics data we can get from Grove. We’ll then complete a review and provide an annual engineers report including upcoming maintenance requirements and anything else which is getting picked up in the CraneSafe process,” Mike said.

“We’ll complete an annual review of this information, and we can tell the owner, ‘You’re tracking it, it’s year three and you’re at 22 per cent of winch use, for example, and we want oil changed or something done at this date, and we want a service completed at this date.’ And your projected major works are going to happen in 14 years time or whatever the extended period might be.”

“Because of the way the industry is set up, sites demand paperwork at 10 years, so part of our process will be to complete a rigorous inspection at 10 years anyway, basically to validate that the condition matches up with the life span we’ve calculated for the crane. As long as the owners are tracking these maintenance and service requirements along the way, that should be achievable,” he said.

Garry takes up the story. 

“From our perspective, we give the crane a use expectancy from day one, like a birth certificate and then annually, or more frequently if the crane is clocking up the hours, we gather the data from CICA via the CraneSafe inspections, with the owners’ approval. 

“We can grab the data regarding the crane’s history and combine this with the data we are capturing from the telematics system on the crane. Then each year, or more frequently, depending on usage, the customer knows what their usage of that crane is and what the expected usage of that machine will be,” he said.

“Essentially, crane owners are going to be able to project expenditure on the crane a lot more accurately than at the moment. The idea is that we’re regularly reporting the utilisation of the machine which enables them to better plan what needs to be done and adopt preventative maintenance program for their assets. 

“If crane owners are looking after the machines properly, they might not have to touch that machine for 15 years. At the moment, they’re spending between $20K and $25K on a deferred major, or more on a full major inspection at the 10 year mark. 

“This will become part of the sale of the crane and if they’re using the machines on average 1000 hours a year, they’re going to get 15 years very easily before they need to do a major inspection.”

“Another big win for the owner is residual value of the crane. Because they can predict the usage of the crane, when a major inspection is due, if they want to change out their machine out at eight or 10 years, normally the value of the crane will drop at this point because it’s going to need a major inspection, whereas now, that won’t dip to 13-15 years,” he said.

Manitowoc are aiming to facilitate easier major inspections for cranes through their improved telematics system.
Crane owners are going to be able to project expenditure on the crane a lot more accurately than they currently are.

According to Mike there will be flexibility in the inspection process.

“Depending on the usage of the crane we can generate reports from the telematics and make a call on what we are seeing and what might need servicing. An ongoing benefit is that we’ve worked on an extensive number of Grove machines,” he said. 

“Partnering with Manitowoc we have a large data set and extensive understanding of the product to base projected maintenance, inspection and replacement schedules on. We can plug that data back in and tell the owner what we’re finding and that tele-cylinders are OK for another on average amount of hours, or whatever it is. The annual reporting is essentially an annualised utilisation report.  

“The issue was that the 10 year major inspection was adopted and no one said, “The life cycle for cranes is 10 years.” It just said, “The nominal life of a crane is 10 years depending on how you use it, and the industry just defaulted to the 10 years. Our data shows that the typical design life for an average crane is closer to 15 years. However, some higher utilized cranes could reach this point much earlier than 10 years.” 


Garry concurs with this observation. “This is a historical issue in Australia and a number of other countries. There are 10 year and 25 year inspections, with inspections starting to be more serious after 10 years because that’s when things start to fall apart depending on the utilisation. At 25 years some countries, like Singapore, simply say the crane is done, take it out of service and get rid of it. 

“With our Grove GMKs we can download the information and see all of the component movements in our operating systems over the 20 plus years. That gives us a really great handle on exactly the hours and the functionality of each of the components and I’m pretty certain we’re the only manufacturer that can do this.

“For example, we have data on how many times the pins go in and out on the tele-cylinder, how many hours each winch has completed, detailed data on all of the components and now with telematics, all that data is available without actually being on the grid. Before you’d have to open up the right page and take a picture of it. Now, all that information is in telematics and for the servicing of those components, you can actually zero in and set timers for the servicing,” he said.

“Through telematics we can see actual hours on the machine, the winch and engine hours, we can then work out what percentage of the winch life remains given its utilisation. We’ve got cranes out there today that are 10 years old and the auxiliary winch has only got 100 hours on it. I mean that’s probably only reached three or four per cent of its utilisation. 

“Our reporting system is going to provide far more accurate information than anyone has ever delivered before,” said Garry. 

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