New crane guidelines: Time to lift your game
Konecranes Australia and New Zealand managing director BRAD HYEM looks at the latest crane inspection guidelines and how they will affect the facilities management industry.
The facilities management industry needs to carefully plan its education and training in response to the latest crane inspection and assessment guidelines that will bring Australia and New Zealand closer to global standards of risk management.
The most recent Australian Standard outlining the safe use of cranes includes extensive revision of the inspection and maintenance requirements and the addition of a new section that specifies methods to monitor design duty and introduce the concept of design working period.
The standards aim to reduce the risk of accidents to people involved in lifting operations and those in their vicinity, as well as damage to property.
Key businesses affected by such changes include major industry sectors served by the facilities management industry, including mining and energy, steel making and distribution, manufacturing and metal fabrication processing, ports and shipping, resources infrastructure (including oil and gas) and manufacturing, packaging and paper processing, and workshop and heavy maintenance.
The Konecranes Group – the world’s largest crane service organisation with more than 420,000 cranes of all makes under service standards worldwide – has found that the implications of the provisions of AS 2550.1 (2011) are only now starting to be realised in major industry segments.
Facilities managers for businesses that use overhead cranes in their day-to-day operations should seek authoritative guidance on understanding and anticipating the changes as they take effect on an ongoing basis.
Cranes and hoists are one of the most common items of worksite machinery yet they have the potential to be among the most dangerous if they are not properly maintained and safety compliant. So these changes – like similar changes to ISO standards in 2009 – are very welcome and should be clearly understood across the spectrum of industry.
One of the major areas of change and safety reinforcement focused on by the latest standards relate to consistency and frequency of inspections specified in Standard 2550.1 (2011) 7.3.1. In particular, the latest standard focuses on areas such as:
- pre-operational inspection, which is vital to safety
- routine maintenance and inspection, which is a key to reliability
- periodic third-party inspections, which include essential areas of compliance requirements, and
- major inspections of cranes, which have a major bearing on safety, reliability and life cycle cost.
Some of the changes are subtle, but important, while others – such as the provisions for inspections by qualified third parties – are more substantial and very important to a wide range of businesses wishing to ensure optimum compliance and risk management.
Another key area of change is the requirement to ascertain the remaining design working period (DWP) according to processes and calculations summarised in a new section (9) of AS2550.1. DWP is then used to determine when a major inspection (and subsequent general overhaul) is due.
This section can have significant implications on maintenance costs because if DWP is not estimated according to the correct process, the design life (and requirement to carry out a major inspection) can be reduced by as much as a third of the crane’s original design life.
The only method of duty estimation that does not require DWP to be reduced by a factor of safety is achieved by using a recognised type of recording system (such as Konecranes Control Pro).
Konecranes is also currently introducing TRUCONNECT Remote Services to Australasia. These provide real-time data via a modem so equipment owners can log in and see exactly how their equipment is operating.
Close attention needs to be paid to the definition of competent persons for inspections, as spelt out by Clause 1.4.1, and to the requirements for major assessments contained in AS2550.1 and 2550.3. The latter of these says that cranes that have reached the end of their design life shall be assessed to ensure their suitability for continued use. New provisions are introduced to this assessment.
Interpretation of the Standards is an area for experts in the field – there is a clear need for expert and independent guidance in interpretation of such Standard provisions and ensuring, where work is needed, that service partners are trained to the appropriate standards required.
Authoritative guidance is essential as many companies are focused on their own production challenges and demands, which absorb their own staff so they have to rely on the best outside specialist guidance they can get for risk management.
This year we achieved NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) accreditation for its program of crane inspections, achieving compliance with NATA Accreditation Requirements, which include AS/NZS ISO/IEC 17020 and field-specific criteria.
Our third-party inspections are also of a type required by the latest Australian Standards (including AS 1418.1 and AS 2550.1 ). These outline the safe use of cranes and maintenance requirements, as well as adding a new section that specifies methods to monitor design duty and introduce the concept of design working period.
The new standards and technologies are game changers for the crane industry. Never before have operators of cranes been required to know so much about the condition, safety and traceability of maintenance of their cranes.
But also never before have crane owners and CRP (crane responsible people) been able to take advantage of the new array of technologies that enable them to look inside their cranes in real time.