“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” That idiom has been conventional wisdom for generations. There was a time, however, when the Earth being flat also was conventional wisdom. The trouble with conventional wisdom is that beliefs change from time to time, and that often means a seismic shift in our approach. It’s no different in the world of overhead crane maintenance, where changes big and small continue to affect the way we do tasks. Some of these modifications are relatively minor. Though others are fundamental changes that throw everything we think we knew about the process of overhead crane maintenance on its ear.
For example, one of the most prevalent trends sweeping the overhead crane industry at the moment is automation. Although automation has been more or less a constant presence in manufacturing for many years, recent advancements in technology have made automation for overhead cranes far more sophisticated. Through the use of features such as advanced computer controls, laser-guided sensors and sophisticated object-avoidance systems, it is now increasingly common to see overhead cranes and hoists perform tasks entirely on their own, with minimal input from a human operator. This level of sophistication has had far-reaching effects on the maintenance side of the industry. Technicians have had to increase their knowledge in order to fully understand and service the many highly complex and technologically advanced elements of the modern overhead crane or hoist system. Because automation often is implemented with the goal of making a facility more efficient, any downtime caused by a breakdown in one of these automated crane systems means serious consequences. Therefore, it’s essential that maintenance and repair technicians are able to get the equipment up and running again, quickly.
Another trend having a profound impact on overhead crane maintenance is proactive maintenance. As noted before, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” has been a widespread belief for a long time. However, many overhead crane and hoist operators are beginning to understand there’s a flaw in that line of thinking when it comes to their equipment. The problem with not fixing something unless it’s broken is that waiting until then means downtime, which can be deadly to any operation. When overhead crane or hoist equipment breaks down for any reason, it means hours, if not days, of work piling up and not getting done. Any loss of productivity is a major problem for an operation. What’s more, waiting until a problem emerges to solve it guarantees productivity will be lost. However, proactive maintenance works to solve that problem so that overhead crane and hoist equipment can stay online for as long as possible. Rather than waiting for equipment to break down before performing work, proactive maintenance seeks to identify potential problems within the equipment before they have a chance to break down and take the equipment offline. As with automation, this has been made possible through the application of advanced technology, which is used to monitor the condition of critical components and compile detailed data about the equipment’s usage. Based on that information, a maintenance service provider can develop and implement a proactive maintenance plan that performs periodic upgrades and repairs on equipment to replace worn components or resolve minor functionality issues that could worsen over time. The result? Equipment stays online for longer, maximizing the productivity that owners and operators can expect to gain from it. To the eyes of many, overhead crane maintenance may not have been broken for a long time. Thanks to the efforts of forward-thinking manufacturers and service providers, however, this side of the industry is being fixed in a way that will benefit the entire trade for years to come.