How to land the right equipment under the right contract
by Keith Holmes
April 18, 2019

Negotiating agreements for professional responsibility and legal requirements is a top priority. And insurance is a major component, as you do not want to be responsible for any damage to machinery during construction.

Crane usage limitations and maintenance restrictions are typically based on the size of the particular machine being requested. Therefore, it is important to know your project needs before renting so that you do not breach any of the contract conditions. 

This is best achieved by having the crane provider perform a walkaround of the jobsite (where the crane will operate) before signing to align your scope of work with the right machinery. The provider’s inspection should take into account:

  • Size of the site and ability to house particular cranes
  • Ground and weather conditions
  • Analysis of load charts to determine capabilities, strengths and exact dimensions of the required crane (including boom length)
  • Rated capacity to asses: size and weight of the material being lifted, distance and radius to be covered with the crane, whether a rotating or
  • non-rotating machine is needed
  • Anticipated scale of the project and time required to complete it

In addition, there may be power lines, trees or other obstructions to consider. The type of crane used also depends on whether you are moving horizontally or vertically, as well as the machine’s height and reach limitations and tail swing. In most cases, the more complex the needs, the higher the rental price.

Crane Types

Traveling, rotating cranes are able to cover a larger project area, but the travel and transfer speed must also be considered. Fixed versus traveling equipment is largely dependent on change of use and amount of traffic on-site. The following are some crane options:

  • Tower cranes—Excellent for the construction of tall buildings, and particularly for long-term projects, due to its static installation, providing both astonishing height and lifting power up to 20 tons. However, due to its size, extra safety measures are needed, and movement and usage can be hampered by high winds.
  • Gantry cranes (overhead cranes)—More favorable for high projects, such as bridge work, as it has a higher lifting capacity, and the larger models can take loads of more than 800 tons and reach over 600 feet.
  • Crawler cranes—Suitable for multiple ground types, including soft ground, and can move around the site with ease. They are mounted on moveable tracks and can lift extremely heavy loads. However, this means they are bulky and difficult to transport and assemble, making them more suitable for long-term projects.
  • Boom trucks—Versatile and reliable for most daily construction sites. They are fitted with a hydraulic crane and a flat deck hauling area, allowing easy lifting of light- to medium-sized loads. They are also ideal for moving between different project locations, as the actual truck can travel at highway speeds.
  • All-terrain cranes—Useful when the load is too large for a boom truck but not heavy enough for a crawler. They are typically used for commercial or industrial and retail sites. They drive easily through sand and gravel and have all-wheel drive for easy transport from one place to another (with driving speeds up to 55 miles per hour). Their lifting capacity generally ranges from 60 to 600 tons (and can even reach over 1,000 tons), and their reach height goes up to 500 feet.
  • Telescopic crane—Provides a boom with tubes fitted inside one another and a hydraulic system that can extend or retract the tubes to increase length. They can rotate 360 degrees, allowing for gentler placement of fragile materials.

Riggers

All cranes must be operated by a qualified professional, of course, but rigger operators must have specific knowledge regarding moving and lifting large objects and be able to assess the jobsite quickly. They are responsible for the fastening of straps, chains and cables to execute the lift of the object.

Most are certified by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards to ensure that the load is well-secured before the movement or lifting occurs.

Hooks & Switches

The need for additional hooks depends on the speed and coverage area with which you are working. OSHA requirements for a safety latch on hooks do not depend on the size of the hook, but rather the activity for which the hook is being used.

A crane may be equipped with auxiliary hooks to help speed up lifts of medium weight, and whip hooks come into play for lighter loads at a high speed. The more hooks used, the higher the cost due to increased maintenance and power requirements.

Safety latches on hooks are required when used in conjunction with a personnel platform, overhaul ball assembly, lower load block or other attachment assemblies.

Extra Costs

There may be additional fees to take into consideration, such as the cost of tracks, reinforcement of paths, operating and maintenance. Fuel is also a major factor, and you may need a power supply, depending on whether the work being performed is in a remote location or is inside or outside.

Documenting Condition

Before being dispatched to a jobsite, cranes are generally inspected for the following: overall cleanliness; damages to hydraulic systems; fluid levels; issues with the engine, radiator, mechanical controls and hoisting instruments.

Limit switches, hook springs, wire rope, emergency switches, brakes and lighting will all be checked for optimal condition also. If necessary, safety measures, such as load testing, may also be performed.

The inspector will note all these items in a checklist and ensure tests, such as OSHA-required equipment functionality tests for crane and hoist operation, are performed and documented. Still, the operator should complete a walkaround of the machine before it is transported.

Coordinating Transportation

Transportation of the machine will be part of the cost of hire. Typically, counterweights and jibs are transported via semitruck. Many cranes are drivable, but certain large cranes are transported via tractor trailer.

To transport cranes that require a tractor trailer, the dispatch team will sometimes coordinate the transportation with an outside hauler, as there is typically a need for multiple semi-trucks in order to get all the pieces of the crane to the jobsite.

The timing of transport is key for coordinating the arrival of the crane, crew, rigger, equipment being hoisted and any additional rigging.

Permits

The type of permits required for your work are dependent upon city laws and what type of work is scheduled to be completed with the crane in a specific area. A permit may be required for multiple facets of the project.

With so many variables dictating whether or not a permit is required for a particular project, it is important to know the scope of work and check with the city to see if a permit is necessary. Failure to do so can cause project shutdown, you to incur a fine, your company to accrue a reputation for being noncompliant, and someone’s injury.