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Tips, Tricks and Traps

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Tips, Tricks and Traps


Overhead Cranes in Metal Buildings
By Larry Dunville President, Dearborn Crane & Engineering Although overhead cranes are by no means new to metal buildings, they probably seem to show up just often enough to make you feel dangerous with your knowledge. Bottom line is that you find cranes to be a big pain in the neck and your happy to off load them to the building owner whenever possible. It has been our experience that cranes are normally not considered until near the end of the planning process. It is Dearborn Crane & Engineerings position that if crane issues are moved closer to the beginning of the planning process, there is significant money to be saved, competitive advantage to be gained and profits to be realized. The following is a brief collection of issues that will face the contractor and/or building owner. For more detailed description, additional pictures and free downloads of checklists and specifications, visit our web site at www.dearborncrane.com.

1. The Crane Is not in my contract;


Cranes are sometimes part of the building contract, but other times purchased directly by the owner. It is important to realize that no matter who is responsible for the purchase of the crane, it profoundly affects your building bid and therefore you should make it your business. A simple change of crane configuration can result in a reduced crane silhouette of 2 feet. Changing from a Wide Flange girder to a Fabricated Box girder can save over 25% in wheel loadings! This could allow the building to be two feet lower, while making your steel considerably lighter. The crane needs to be your problem, no matter who issues the order! If handled skillfully, the questions and assistance regarding the crane can be a perfect vehicle to the "consultive selling process", making you look indispensable.

2. Reduce Building Height


It is important to understand that the least cost configuration of crane requires the most vertical space. Every attempt to reduce this dimension takes additional time to fabricate and/or special machinery to make the hoist and endtrucks more compact. Both cost additional money, and therefore will not be part of a proposal from a crane vendor trying to be the "low bidder". A 10 ton crane that can save as much as 2 feet, can cost as little as an additional $1,000. That newly found two feet can not only save in building cost but will also save the owner in heating and cooling costs for the life of the building! This represents a great place to become an "added value supplier" and break out of the "peddler" mode. At Dearborn Crane, we have computerized the design, and estimating of overhead cranes and runways. Although we would prefer 3 days to prepare a quote and drawing, if you are in a pinch, we can provide the dimensions and loadings over the phone, and fax you a general layout drawing immediately. This data will soon be available immediately at our website.

3. Hook requirements calculations


This topic represents the single most common problem. The most common traps include the following; a. Rigging & Below the Hook Devices In the calculation for the necessary required floor to hook dimensions, make sure the method of holding the load (slings, chokers, etc.) are figured into the total lift height required. Items such as below hook scales, coil "C" hooks, etc., must be remembered when these calculations are being made. To forget or underestimate this item is the single most common oversight. I can hear many of you saying, this calculation is not my responsibility. Although I totally agree, I think you must ask, which way would you rather have it, a) be right or b) have a happy customer? The answer is C) both! b. PitsIf there is a loading dock, machinery pit, etc., make sure adequate hoist lift has been specified. c. Overhead Obstructions- BTDT-DWDA (Been There, Done That, Dont Want to Do it Again!) Items such as piping, conduit, lighting and ducts often prevent the crane from its maximum elevation. Sub contractors should be warned that the crane will be installed within 3 inches of the overhead steel and that OSHA requires this 3

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Tips, Tricks and Traps


inch area to be clear of all obstructions.

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1. Required Clearances
As stated in item #3, OSHA specifies a vertical clearance of 3 inches as well as a horizontal clearance between the crane and any stationary objects of 2 inches. It has been our experience that on long span buildings, the 3 inch requirement although legal, represents a potential "land mine". It is important to understand that long span cranes (usually those longer than 55 feet) are typically box girder type cranes. Box girders are required to be fabricated with a camber (about an inch in 100 feet). Therefore when you have a long span building (with above average deflection), in conjunction with crane camber"bingo", not only have you lost your 3 inch clearance, but the top of your hoist is hitting the bottom side of a truss. Likewise, on tall buildings, if columns are as little as a single degree out of plumb, the required 2 inch horizontal clearance can evaporate. BTDT-DWDA!!! It is therefore our policy that, where ever possible, Dearborn Crane uses 6 inches for vertical and 3 inches for horizontal clearance. This provides a very inexpensive insurance policy, especially when you consider how costly it is to fix the problem after the fact.

2. Sales Tax Issues


Although this varies from state to state, in most localities, the crane and runways , if purchased as part of the building, are subject to state and local sales tax. Conversely, if the crane and runways are purchased by the owner, it is considered a "tool" and therefore not typically subject to sales tax. This can represent a valuable negotiation item, and the competitive advantage to win the contract.

3. Duty Cycle Issues


This represents the single most critical issue in relation to system cost. You may say, "how can this be more important than capacity and span"? Let me give you two examples from our actual job files. In 1995 we sold one 10 ton, 84 foot span, CMAA Class "C" crane (moderate duty cycle) for $34,380. During this same time period we had a project that required a 10 Ton, 84 foot span, CMAA Class "F" crane (extremely heavy, mill duty) that was over $400,000! Duty cycle and operation requirements are the single most critical issues in crane design and pricing. Investigate our web site for a detailed explanation of the CMAA (Crane Manufacturers of America) rating system. Important note, if your crane supplier cant quote you "chapter and verse", regarding the CMAA duty cycle specs, find another supplier fast!

4. Installation Tolerances
Although runways appear to be nothing more than building steel rotated in a horizontal orientation, this is not the case. Runways are a piece of machinery and need to be installed to machinery tolerances. The CMAA specification requires that crane runways be +/- inch in 20 feet and +/- 3/8 inch over the full length of the runway. Since runway girders are often installed by ironworkers aquainted with tolerances acceptable to installation of red iron building steel, they are usually surprised by the CMAA crane runway tolerances. This mis-undersanding can lead to the dreaded "B" word (backcharges) and hard feelings between the owner and building contractor. A detailed write-up of runway installation practices is available on our website.

5. Runway Elevation vs. Hook Height


Often for reasons of time, an arbitrary runway elevations is chosen. This allows the building to proceed and the crane vendor and design to be chosen later. It should be remembered that although crane designers can provide a great deal of vertical adjustment to accommodate runway elevations, this adjustment is costly. As mentioned earlier, the simplest configuration (bridge beam directly on top of the endtruck) is the least expensive. In other words, if the runway elevation is determined in a "top down" manor, starting from the crane and working down, the most cost effective answer can be provided. In summary, cranes can add additional level of complexity to a building. Unlike heating, seismic issues and roofing, which are part of every building, cranes only show up often enough to provide a false sense of confidence. Your best protection is to be aware of the appropriate questions, (leave the answers to your qualified vendor, you have more important things to do). Visit at our website and download our "Cranes in Metal Buildings" checklists. The eight points listed are only the tip of the iceberg. Our website expands on these issues and adds more. We also have a one hour training session available on CD ROM. If you would like a free copy of our CDROM "Cranes for Architects, Engineers and Contractors", send me an e -mail at Ldunville@DearbornCrane.com, or call me a 219-

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Tips, Tricks and Traps


259-2444.

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Larry Dunville A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Harvard Business School, is the owner and president of Dearborn Crane & Engineering Co. Larry has building cranes systems since working as a welder during high school summers and installing cranes as an apprentice Ironworker during college. Larry has two material handling patents and has written several magazine articles.

Dearborn Crane & Engineering Co. Dearborn is a builder of Overhead Bridge Cranes. Dearborn is located in Mishawaka, Indiana. Founded in 1947, Dearborn Crane is celebrating its 50 th year of business. In 1997 Dearborn was awarded the Indiana Governors "Quest for Excellence", and is expected to complete ISO 9000 certification by the end of 1998.

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