Aiming high for crane inspections

Cranes perform hard work at high frequency for many years. This is why the crane inspections by DEKRA are essential.


Key point: The examination of the big ring mount. (Picture: DEKRA)

Eberhard Lange cannot be stopped by steps and stairs. The 67-year-old crane inspector is fit as a fiddle and prooves his condition when he mounts a 32 meters system in Hamm at the Datteln-Hamm canal. The right term for the system is “single-link gantry crane”. Lange knows this harbour crane since 1980. It weighs 110 tons and has been installed in Bergkamen before. Lange is an “old hand” in business with 37 years of working experience for DEKRA crane inspections: “The boom of this crane can lift up to 8 tons. With this type of crane, an experienced crane operator can move up to 1,000 tons a day.”

Lange works mainly in the Ruhr disctrict and the Münster region, but also travels to  the coast on customers’ behalf. Recently, Lange visited a wind power station and examined the luffing jib of a 110m crawler crane. What sounds quite adventurous and dangerous for the layman is pure routine for the expert. Lange doesn’t make much fuss of his responsible task. Nevertheless, all of his movements are well considered. “You have to keep your eyes and ears open all the time. A fall can be fatal” he’s reminds us while he is climbing the crawler crane.

Even if he got retired two yeras ago, Lange still works for DEKRA’s branch office in Hamm in the Dortmund region. He likes the feeling beeing needed. Authorized crane inspectors are rare. There are only 60 engineers working in this business for DEKRA nationwide, junior talents are always welcome.

Lange doesn’t need to tell this to his son Mark. Since three months, the 26 year old mechanical engineer accompanies every step of his fathers’ way and will follow in his footsteps one day.

The advantage lies in responsible and experienced personnel

The workers on the harbour site are treating Eberhard Lange with great respect. Lange is authorized as a crane inspector of the Adminsitrative Professions Organisation (VBG), his judgements carry weight. Once a year, he examines the crawler crane on behalf of its operator and decides if the certificate is provided or not. “I don’t have the permission to shut down an entire plant but the information tot he VBG will initiate this step”, the expert is telling us.

Regarding the crawler crane he is inspecting according to the testing standards, he does have a good feeling: ” The crawler crane is serviced state-related and is occupied by one crane operator. These are optimal prerequisites for a good condition. If the personnel rotates frequently it happens that nobody feels responsible for the crane.”

Cranes of this size usually require an investment running into the millions for their operators. A temporary standstill has serious consequences. But this leaves no impression with the experienced crane inspector regarding his examinations. He is the responsible person for the fulfilment of legal requirements. Smallest signs of wear on particular crane components can constitute a potential danger to humans.

Lange examines all electric and mechanical functions of all Opponent of the crane thoroughly and keeps detailed records. This also includes the measurement and evaluation of wear parts. The result is documented in the audit report and handed over to the client. On the basis of Langes’ statements, possible defects have to be eliminated by the operator.

After the inspection of the crawler crane, a mobile crane is waiting for Lange. This time it is a boom crane with articulated arm, which is mostly used by roofers. This construction is very popular for the truck class up to 7,49 tons. The articulated arm is manufactured completely from aluminium and reaches a maximum hook height of 32 meters.

Such cranes have to be examined every four years, from the 12th year on, this turns into a yearly inspection. The mobile crane has to be examined not only for its stability in the entire swivel range, but also on its component strength in all operating equipment modes. Everything has to work properly to avoid any risk for accidents or tipping over. So the inspection of cranes means technical safety for the crane operator and a good feeling on top.

Video: crane-inspection for DEKRA

Read more: DEKRA presents Work Safety Barometer 2015/2016

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