Overhead Crane Issues And How To Avoid Them

Crane MaintenanceJust like any piece of equipment, your overhead crane will require routine maintenance to extend its life and keep it running efficiently. Purchasing an overhead crane is a big investment and business owners should be concerned about overhead crane issues, fixing common problems, how to reduce downtime, and minimizing the impact on business operations.

This article will cover just some of the most common problems in maintaining Stacker Cranes and one of the most effective ways to help resolve those issues. 

What are Stacker Cranes?

A stacker crane system uses a non-hoist load handling device (e.g., a mast that is suspended from a bridge trolley and equipped with forks or a gripper). The main system components also include guide rails, an electrical supply system, and a data transmission/control system in addition to the load handling device. Together, they allow the system to move around the facility, pick up objects, and lift and lower them. Stack cranes are a well-liked option for automated storage and retrieval tasks in industrial and commercial facilities because of these features.Honda Testimonial

Types of Stacker Cranes

The market offers many different types of stacker cranes to meet the needs and attributes of each warehouse specification. 

  • Warehouse and storage facilities. Stacker cranes are frequently used in warehouses and other storage facilities to transport items, materials, and equipment within and between locations. Since they are less constrained by aisle space than forklifts and conveyor systems, they are far more adaptable. 
  • Metal handling facilities. Molten materials must frequently be stored, transported, and poured during metal handling procedures, which can be dangerous for workers’ health and safety if the right tools aren’t used. The stability, dependability, and reliability of stacker cranes and other overhead crane systems make them the perfect choice for handling products in a secure manner.
  • Shipping and logistics facilities. In shipping and logistics facilities, particularly large ones or ones that receive/ship a lot of items, automated storage, and retrieval systems are extensively used.
  • Car manufacturing facilities. Stacker cranes are used in auto manufacturing facilities to lift, move, and place automotive components for a variety of tasks, such as assembly and storage.

How to Avoid the Most Common Problems with Overhead Cranes 

In order to give you a better idea of the issues or problems you might run into over the course of your overhead crane’s lifespan, we have put together a short list of the most typical overhead crane problems. And most importantly, what you can do to help prevent or mitigate them. 

Alignment and Crane Skew Issues

The entire crane system can be severely stressed and damaged by an overhead crane that is skewing and out of alignment as it moves down the runway. The runway beams and the overhead crane are eventually stressed when an overhead crane isn’t tracking properly due to forces that weren’t considered during the crane’s construction and installation.

Note: Overhead crane skewing is when the bridge is not perfectly perpendicular to the runway.

Some of the problems that these types of stresses can result in:

  • Accidents
  • Derailment or crane failure
  • Equipment breakdowns
  • Decrease in production
  • Expensive maintenance and part replacement
  • Premature wear of the motor drives and other equipment components
  • Excessive wear to the wheels, wheel bearings, and wheel flanges

Signs to look for that your cane may not be aligned properly and is skewing.

  • More force is needed to maneuver the crane through some runway obstacles
  • Listen for sounds such as scratching or scraping noises
  • Abnormal deterioration of the rails, bearings, and wheels
  • Wheel flanges with cracks or breaks
  • Loose girder connections
  • Wheels that float or scale the rail before tumbling down
  • Bridge derailment

Having a regular routine preventive maintenance schedule and checklists will keep your equipment running longer and minimize downtime due to poor maintenance. 

Damage and Degree to Wire Rope

As wire rope can occasionally sustain damage and decay, this is one of the most frequent problems encountered when operating an overhead crane. This occurs for a number of typical reasons: A wire rope may bounce out of the reviewing system sometimes, have worn or broken outer wires, or has damage or corrosion at the end connection. Other operational circumstances might also cause the wire rope to deteriorate and sustain damage. However, there are a few ways to keep it from getting damaged, and those ways are as follows: Before you begin working on the overhead crane, check the rope, and if there is any damage, worn wires, or reduction in the diameter of the rope, take preventative action. Ensure that the wire rope is adequately greased.

Wire rope’s life can be impacted by a variety of operational circumstances. How long the wire rope can function depends on a number of factors, including bending, stresses, loading circumstances, speed of load application (shock load), abrasion, corrosion, sling design, materials handled, climatic conditions (heat or chemical exposure), lubrication, and history of use.

The easiest approach to avoid a wire rope becoming damaged or failing is to examine it before each shift. To avoid further use, the wire rope should be carefully disposed of if any signs of deterioration are seen. It is extremely important to make sure that the wire rope is adequately greased. This provides lubrication and corrosion protection when the individual wires move over one another.

Problem With Electrification System

Contact Interruptions

This is the main issue that the operator of the overhead crane encounters when there are contact interruptions between the conductor bars and the collector, which leads to control issues. 

A carbon graphite brush designed for the collector may deteriorate over time, which may result in carbon graphite accumulation, and result in shorts in the electrical connection.

Due to the operational environment or extended periods of inactivity, the copper rails on the conductor bars can also corrode or oxidize. To make sure that the contact between the collector and conductor bar is uninterrupted, the conductor bars and collectors should be inspected and cleaned on a regular basis to avoid this from happening.

Push buttons and Radio Controls

Although a little uncommon, there are environmental settings that can produce their own radio waves that could obstruct an overhead crane’s operation. During these situations, radio waves can interfere with the transmission and disrupt the communications between the radio’s transmitter and receiver.

The push buttons, levers, pendant controls, and radio controls may become stuck or unresponsive over time and need to be replaced or repaired.

Blown Fuses

If you notice that the fuses on your overhead crane are frequently blowing, there probably is a bad circuit in the crane’s electrical system. In order to evaluate the crane’s electricity system and pinpoint the problem, call a crane service provider at once.

Hooks getting damaged or Bent

One of the main components of the crane is the hook, so it needs to be properly maintained. The hook has a load capacity, and if it is exceeded, the hook may start to bend or may sustain damage. Because the hook handles all of the weight, the chances of the load slipping off the hook or coming disengaged pose a dangerous situation. At the start of each shift, hooks and other rigging hardware should be routinely inspected to look for damage or abnormalities.

Excessive Wear to End Track Wheels

End track wheels are important parts of an overhead crane and frequently need to be maintained, replaced, or adjusted. Since they are used frequently, the wheels will inevitably deteriorate and need to be replaced as they start to show wear.

Wheels are made of numerous materials, such as alloys, low-carbon steel, medium-carbon steel, polyurethane for gantry cranes, and steel. Wheels that contain more carbon in the steel are harder and increase the life and load capacity of the wheels. There is also a heat treating technique that is used to enhance the metal wheel’s hardness.

On a crane that was placed using an existing rail system as opposed to a new installation, wheels often wear out more quickly. The runways may be misaligned or the rails may be out of tolerance if the runway has not been adequately assessed before installation. You need to also verify the wheels’ suitability for the rail they are running on, and make sure the wheel hardness matches the hardness of the rail.

In order to monitor the rate of wear in between inspections, it is advised to measure and record the thickness of the wheel flanges. You may not need to worry if wheels only wear down a quarter of an inch after ten years. However, any excessive wear after only two weeks may suggest the likelihood of a bigger issue, which should be addressed and fixed before the issue worsens.

Regular crane inspections should be scheduled, which include checking the wheels, to reveal any early wheel wear or other problems that can be fixed before they do serious harm.


OSHA requires yearly inspections of all operational cranes. Crane use on a daily or weekly basis wears down crucial crane parts. This wear can result in breakdowns or, worse still, a risk to you, your team, or your business.

One of the greatest types of preventative maintenance is routine inspections. Regular maintenance allows you to see issues earlier and replace or fix worn-out parts before they seriously impair production or result in equipment failure. Your overhead crane manufacturer could recommend additional inspections at different intervals. These specifications will be listed in your crane’s owner’s handbook, so be sure to maintain a copy close to hand.

Regular crane inspections will not only keep you in compliance with regulatory agencies like OSHA, ASME, and CMAA, but they will also help to keep your personnel safe, cut down on expensive downtime, and extend the life of the equipment.

With all of the parts that can malfunction, deteriorate or break, creating different checklists based on different parts of the standard OSHA 1910.179 Crane Inspection will help you easily manage these tasks and make inspections easier. Using maintenance management software like CMMS, the checklists can be attached right to the work order, which means that the tasks will have to be completed before the work order can be closed out. For those tasks that are really critical, you can capture electronic signatures and always know that the tasks were completed, and who was responsible for the repair or inspection. 

Spare Parts Inventory

Maximizing equipment uptime and minimizing downtime for maintenance is essential in any manufacturing operation. When a machine or piece of equipment breaks down, you can call on the maintenance specialist that you have on staff or your go-to crane technician to save the day. Having these professionals on hand also provides further assurance that the machinery is operating properly, making your staff safer. Providing them with the right spare parts for the cranes and hoists in your facility can make a difference. Your list may be different based on the age of your equipment, and the status of your last inspection, but having essential spare parts on hand, such as those that are frequent wear items, can help you save downtime and you back up and running quickly. 

Maintaining historic repair records and manufacturers’ recommendations will give you the ability to establish a timeframe and baseline when specific parts should be replaced or repaired. Maintaining these records will also save you a lot of money in tracking down parts because you didn’t have them in inventory, which could incur not only the expense of the parts but the rush shipping.

Some maintenance management software automates this process and will provide you with alerts as inventory goes below the threshold that you have defined. These systems give you the ability to automatically place orders, adjust inventory levels for returned orders and streamline your inventory process.

The Total Solution – Preventive Maintenance

Cranes are a big investment, and if a crane is down for a mechanical problem it could cost you your business. Crane accidents are dangerous, lead to human injury, and sometimes can lead to a loss of life. Cranes must be managed carefully to ensure the safety of the operators and the employees and still try to keep business operating smoothly as possible. 

Keeping your equipment operating at peak performance, ensuring the safety of your employees, and being prepared for inspections require you to be on top of all of your maintenance tasks. That is where Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software can help you take care of your maintenance operations.  Some of the things our CMMS can provide to help automate and streamline processes include:

    • Tracking all of your assets by keeping detailed information on your equipment from purchase through retirement.
    • Setting up preventive maintenance schedules that are convenient for your business operations.
    • Get automated notifications of maintenance tasks and schedules.
    • Creating detailed checklists and attaching them to work orders.
    • Keep track of spare parts inventory and set levels so that you can get notifications when they meet defined thresholds.
    • Prioritize work orders to meet those emergencies.
    • Create checklists and attach them to work orders. Be prepared for OSHA, ASME, and CMAA inspections.
    • Upload pictures, manuals, and schematics and have them available from anywhere.
    • Manage resources more efficiently.
    • Signature sign-off gives you the assurance that repairs have been made and who made the repairs.
    • Create and access hundreds of reports to meet your needs.
    • Customized dashboards to see the health of your maintenance operations.
    • CMMS is a centralized system that is accessible from anywhere.

Bottom line is that using CMMS software can do all of this and more. Our user-friendly and affordable CMMS software provides you with the necessary tools to help you automate and manage all of your maintenance operations for a computer or mobile device. There is no software to install, no hardware to purchase, and you can access eWorkOrders anytime, anywhere.

If you have any additional questions or would like to see a demo, please feel free to contact one of our account executives.

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