Warehouse cranes and hoists are specialised and often bespoke pieces of equipment. They aren’t the sort of thing that you’ll need to buy often, as when properly maintained, the right choice will last for a long time.
This can make shopping for a new piece of lifting equipment a complex and at times overwhelming process. There’s a lot to know, a lot to consider, and a lot of different warehouse crane types that may be capable of solving your particular lifting and shifting challenge.
To help focus your efforts, we’ve compiled a list of things that every buyer should consider before going ahead with a warehouse crane or hoist purchase.
5 considerations when choosing a crane or hoist
The following five factors will have the biggest impact on your choice of lifting equipment:
The most important consideration when shopping for a crane is to know what you’re lifting. Begin by working out the heaviest load you’ll need your crane or hoist to lift, as this will define the Working Load Limit (WLL) that you’ll need from your crane or hoist.
But load considerations aren’t just about weight. You’ll need to consider the dimensions, the surface characteristics, the shape, the material and the potential fragility of the load. Realistically you’ll also need to consider whether the load is wet, dusty or oily, as these less-than-ideal states will affect both the upper limits of the crane’s performance and, in some cases, the type of crane that you choose.
Finally, you’ll need to consider the diversity of loads the warehouse crane or hoist will be required to lift. If the load is consistent, your choice of crane is often simpler. If load types will vary, and if these variations are significant, you may need to install more than one type of crane or hoist in an area in order to work efficiently.
How often will you use the crane? And at what percentage of its WLL? The answers to these questions will define the service class of your crane:
- Infrequent service: Cranes that aren’t used often, and that tend to make slow, light, and often precise lifts.
- Light service: Cranes that move light loads at low speeds, with fewer than five small (<3m) lifts completed every hour.
- Moderate service: Cranes that complete fewer than 10 lifts of <5m per hour, with the average lift less than 50% of the WLL.
- Heavy service: Cranes that complete 10-20 lifts of <5m per hour, with the average lift 50-65% of the WLL.
- Severe service: Cranes that operate nearly continuously (20+ lifts per hour), at or near 100% WLL, and often in harsh conditions.
- Continuous severe service: Cranes that are continuously used in severe environmental conditions, at or near 100% WLL.
The frequency and intensity of use are defining factors in the longevity of your crane, as are factors such as proper servicing, maintenance, component replacement, and your choice of lifting equipment supplier, as a quality supplier will offer superior after-sales support.
If the service requirements of your crane are categorised as heavy, severe or continuous severe, meaning that it will be used regularly, operational speed will become a key factor, as the crane will likely need to keep up with warehousing or production processes. If the system is too slow, you may form a bottleneck that can ultimately affect your business’s ability to generate revenue.
It’s also important to note that your crane system shouldn’t be able to move too quickly, as this can compromise safety.
While environmental factors are considered when defining a crane’s service class, they should really form a consideration unto themselves. Cranes and hoists are exposed to a wealth of environmental hazards, particularly those outdoors, including temperature, condensation, humidity and dust. That’s not to forget the man-made, on-site hazards, such as liquids, oils, chemicals and airborne fibres.
The environment your lifting equipment is exposed to will define the materials that it’s made from, the regularity with which it needs to be serviced, and in some cases its service life.
You should be interested in getting the right piece of lifting equipment at the lowest possible price – that’s simply good business. But too many leaders bend their definition of the ‘right’ piece of equipment in order to secure a lower price, and as a result they end up with a small overhead crane, a hoist or a jib that isn’t fit for purpose.
A high-quality, properly engineered and potentially bespoke system can represent a significant upfront investment, but it’s one that pays itself back over time by minimising downtime, requiring less maintenance, being safer to operate and lasting far longer.
When forming your budget, be sure to commit enough money to secure a high-quality crane that is fit for purpose. Don’t forget to account for the costs that may extend beyond the sticker price, such as design, installation, service, maintenance and spare parts.
Examples of the right crane or hoist choice
Choosing between all the different warehouse crane types can be a challenge when you shop for it so rarely. With a number of overhead crane types, gantry crane types, hoists and forklift attachments available, how do you know which is right for your situation?
Your best option is to speak to a lifting equipment professional. A quality supplier will work to gain an understanding of your situation, then advise on the piece or pieces of equipment that will do the job in the safest, most efficient and most productive way.
To gain an understanding of the options available, and when they might be used, here are a few examples:
- Gantry cranes: A horizontal beam supported by two vertical columns, gantry cranes are ideal for heavy, repetitive lifts, and are staples of the transport industry, commonly found in railway and shipping yards.
- Overhead cranes: These work in much the same way as gantry cranes, but instead of utilising supporting columns they are instead suspended from a ceiling or bridge, which makes them ideal in indoors situations like factories.
- Jib cranes: An asymmetrical arm pivots from a supporting column, which allows a jib crane to lift vertically and manoeuvre horizontally. These are an ideal solution for tight workspaces that need dedicated lifting capability.
- Hoists: Attaching to a hook, hoists tend to use a chain or wire rope powered by electricity or air to lift loads. These are mobile options that are capable of precise movements, making them ideal for everything from warehouses to farms.
Enabling New Zealand businesses to work smarter, quicker and safer
At Stratalign we believe we tick every one of the boxes listed above. Established in 1962, we have a proud history and proven track record of helping New Zealand businesses of all shapes and sizes with their lifting needs.
We pair this experience with innovation – we are committed to staying on the very leading edge of our industry, to ensure our customers benefit from the latest and greatest in lifting technology. We are also unswervingly customer focused, and provide all the after-sales support you need to get the most out of your crane.
But why listen to us when you can listen to our customers? Our reviews speak for themselves.
Whatever your lifting needs are, our team of experts are ready to help you find a solution that will have your business working better. Get in touch today for a no-obligation consultation and quote.