If you’re looking at renting a crane, you know it’s not cheap. You might, understandably, be concerned about whether a crane can handle the winter conditions. After all, delays can be expensive. Nevermind the risk to your worksite, employees, and project.
With winter averages dropping to a freezing 27° F and around an average of 50 inches of snowfall, Michigan winters are even more perilous.
The good news is that by listening to your common sense and taking into consideration the environment and your crane, you can successfully rent a crane for your project during winter.
Choose the right crane
Not all cranes are suitable for all types of terrain. This is especially true of mobile cranes that need to be transported to the site and move around freely by themselves.
For example, truck cranes will face the same challenges as other oversized vehicles when driving on snowy or icy roads. Any cranes on wheels might find it extra difficult to traverse snowy or slippery ground once the ice starts to melt.
Crawler cranes, on the other hand, are ideally suited to these conditions. They run on caterpillar tracks, like tanks, and will handle soft soil or snow much better. Off-road cranes are also a better choice, although they still have the disadvantage of wheels.
You can find both these types of cranes in different sizes with different types of booms, capacities, etc. And, unless you have very specific requirements, you should be able to find one suitable for your project.
You should also consider a crane with outriggers as this will help the crane keep sure footing.
Make sure you’re insured
No matter how good your crane, rental company, or operator is, accidents can always happen. Damage to the crane, worksite accidents, or damage to third party property are ever-present risks.
In most cases, you will be responsible for the crane and any incidents while you are renting it. Cranes are expensive pieces of equipment and any damage can rack up quite the bill. The same goes for any worksite accidents and resulting delays.
It’s crucial that you and your rental company are adequately covered to avoid crippling, unexpected expenses. So, make sure that all the parties’ responsibilities are clearly laid out in the agreement with details about how claims will be handled. Then, protect yourself appropriately.
Get a crane operator with experience in winter conditions
In general, you should always make sure your operator is experienced, qualified, and knows how to operate the specific type of crane you are using.
Michigan winters are also harsher than most across the U.S. Even without snow or rain, operating a crane in extreme cold can be extra tricky. Just think about how difficult and painful it is to write with freezing fingers. The same goes for operating a crane with high precision.
A crane operator that has never worked under these conditions might find it even more challenging. Someone with experience, particularly a local, will know what to wear and how to cope with the weather on the job.
Keep your eye on the weather
A responsible foreman or site manager will already take the weather conditions into consideration when planning out the day’s work. During winters in Michigan, this deserves even more attention.
We know you have a schedule to keep and that deadlines might be sensitive. However, the high stakes at play when it comes to cranes means it simply isn’t worth the risk to overwork your crane (or the operator). Don’t hesitate to reduce or delay operating the crane if the weather is working against you. The result might be far worse than any delays or disruptions to your schedule.
General crane care tips
During extreme weather conditions, it’s even more important to make sure your crane is properly maintained. Usually, you are responsible for keeping and returning the crane in good working order. Here are the most important crane care tips you should follow:
- Use high-quality fuel
- Regularly check the batteries
- Manage the crane’s workload, being extra sensitive to on-the-day conditions
- Keep it clean
- Warm up the machine and try to keep it warmed up
- Regularly check the filters
You can read more about how to do this here.
Extremely cold weather can affect the performance of the crane. Many parts of its systems like hydraulics, hoists, and the boom structure itself will be affected. Take extra care not to push past the crane’s tensile strength under these conditions as it can lead to catastrophic failure.
In cold or windy conditions, you will have to reduce the maximum load of the crane. Your crane’s manual should have information on how much the weather affects its capacity. These conditions also affect the maximum height or boom length the crane can operate at.
A safe crane means a safe worksite
A crane is a specialized and extremely powerful piece of equipment working at high thresholds. Accidents resulting from irresponsibly operating a crane can lead to hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars in damages or can even be fatal.
During challenging conditions, like Michigan winters, this risk is higher. Ultimately, being proactive and cautious will protect you from much worse consequences. Keep these tips for renting a crane in winter fresh in your mind to protect yourself, your project, and your employees.