Your crane is down on a critical job site with no time to lose. Twenty guys are standing around waiting for a beam to be lifted into place or a concrete wall erected, and the whole job comes to a screeching halt because the equipment isn’t working properly. You’re tempted to buy that inexpensive will-fit part from the guy down the street, just to get things up and running again. Here’s why it isn’t worth the risk.
Proper lift equipment maintenance not only prolongs machine life, but it is also the first step toward keeping workers safe on the job. There are a number of maintenance considerations specific to cranes that equipment maintenance technicians should keep in mind.
One of the simplest, yet most important, things to do is to use OEM-supplied parts. This is the only way to ensure the integrity of the replacement. These parts are inspected and quality-control tested by the OEM to exact equipment specifications designed by the manufacturer. Non-OEM parts suppliers, in most cases, are not even aware of the manufacturer’s specifications nor do they have access to review the original specifications against the design drawings.
The decision to use aftermarket parts is often driven by one of two things: availability or cost.
Availability of replacement parts is critical to the operational efficiency and uptime for any piece of equipment. When equipment requires repair, some end-users focus on the initial cost of the part. But they fail to consider the true cost of a repair and the lifetime cost of ownership.
The cost of unexpected downtime due to inferior parts or associated components not functioning per specification will increase the equipment’s total lifecycle cost. For example, if a generic part functions at 95 percent of the original part’s efficiency, has a lifespan rated at 80 percent of the OEM part, and initially costs 20 percent less, end-users could risk losing thousands of dollars due to additional downtime while also potentially spending more on fuel to operate the equipment.
Availability is another issue. Obtaining the right part quickly is a top priority for all equipment owners with a crane down in the field. Many equipment manufacturers have developed numerous systems and processes to be able to deliver faster parts and service.
An extensive dealer and distributor network is one of the first steps to being able to provide efficient, localized service. These dealers, supported by manufacturer-supported regional repair technicians, are the front line when faced with equipment down in the field. And working with them for more routine preventive maintenance can not only avoid unscheduled downtime, but can also increase the life of the crane.
Look for dealers who encourage their technicians to take advantage of manufacturer-sponsored training programs. These programs help build a better understanding of operating systems, components, maintenance, and repair of specific crane brands and models. This knowledge, applied to a downed crane, helps ensure that it will be repaired quickly and correctly, giving additional peace of mind not available when purchasing from a non-OEM approved source.
Some manufacturers, through their dealer networks, also offer 24/7 online parts ordering so parts can be ordered and shipped at any time, from any place in the world.
But the most important thing to keep in mind when you are responsible for repairing and maintaining cranes or any other type of equipment is to follow manufacturer-recommended service intervals. Service intervals and other maintenance recommendations outlined in OEM service manuals are designed to help keep equipment running at optimal levels, which helps owners and operators stay up and running and profitable with their equipment.
Remember the old saying: Maintenance doesn’t cost, it pays!
|John Bittner is director, global marketing, for Manitowoc Crane Care.|