Your construction equipment is a big investment, so it only makes sense to protect it whenever and however possible. When it comes to your cranes, winter can wreak havoc on them. Cold temperatures, blowing snow, and ice can damage the machine and shorten its service life considerably. But there are steps to take to prevent damage and keep your crane running smoothly through the winter months.
Understanding and Reducing Maximum Loads
Frigid temperatures add stress to any machine and cranes are no exception. While many cranes have limit switches already installed, it’s important to understand your crane’s maximum load and limit them when necessary. Of course, its maximum load is affected by a number of factors, including the position of the load when on the jib, which can impact balance and put undue stress on the machine. Regardless, it’s important to reduce loads whenever you can—especially during the winter—to help protect the crane’s future performance.
Manage Productivity Time
Daylight is minimized during the winter and so are warmer days. That means it’s a good idea to limit the amount of hours your crane is in operation, especially in freezing temperatures. While your machine may be winterized, by limiting the amount of time it’s running during the winter can prolong its service life.
Warm Up Your Machine
Just like you would your own personal vehicle, it’s a good idea to let a crane warm up a bit before you start working. If your crane operates with hydraulic steering, response will likely be pretty slow when in freezing temperatures, so give it time to warm up and save yourself the aggravation. It’s also much safer, since your steering response will be faster once the crane has warmed up to proper operating temps. Additionally, never let the machine sit in the cold for too long without starting it—even if it’s just to run it for a while.
Check for Ice
It may sound simple and seem obvious, but checking your machine for ice before starting it up can mean fewer problems later. When mud gets caked on your machine, ice can get trapped, causing moving parts to get stuck. Ice can lead to cracks in your machinery, ultimately requiring your team to wait while your machine receives crane service. It can also quickly lead to rust, which will break down the crane’s mechanics over time. When taking a look around your machine, pay special attention to the brake area, throttle, and exhaust.
Pay Attention to Battery Life
If you’ve noticed your machine takes a while to start or refuses to start, the battery life should be the first thing you check. Cold winter weather can cause corrosion around the battery of the crane. It’s a good idea to pay close attention to your battery throughout the life of the machine, but especially during the winter. Check your crane manual for how often you can expect to change your crane’s battery.
Add Fuel Conditioner
Winter is the perfect time to add fuel conditioner to the machine. A fuel conditioner can help boost your crane’s performance in any weather, but during the winter, it should be viewed as a necessity. A fuel conditioner changes the characteristics of fuel and results can be monitored so changes can be made as needed. As always, check your manual for condition requirements. It’s also a good idea to use quality fuel to begin with, so you know your performance is at its top level.
Even when you take all of these precautions, you still need to be aware of the heightened potential for slipping and falling. When you’re entering and exiting the crane, make sure you’re watching your step!
Crane Inspection and Emergency Service
RTL Equipment has been helping businesses around the Midwest since we opened our doors back in 1980. We specialize in sales, rentals, service, and parts for crawler cranes, rough terrain cranes, hydraulic excavators, and much more. Our team of crane service professionals are here for you if and when you experience problems with your machine. If you have an issue with a crane or machine you have obtained from RTL Equipment, call us! Additionally, it may benefit you to inquire about our annual crane inspection service. Regardless, we’re here to answer any questions you may have when it comes to cranes, forklifts, excavators, and other construction equipment.