Cranes on mechanic trucks can either boost productivity or become a constant source of irritation for your field service techs, depending on how they are spec’d. Choosing the correct crane boils down to working with the service technicians to understand your particular application.
“You probably need to survey your service technicians to see what exactly they need to do their job, and get back to the shop safely and in the most expeditious manner,” advises Gary Hanson, Western U.S. regional sales manager, Stellar Industries.
Size it correctly
The most common mistake customers make is selecting a crane that is too small. “It doesn’t lift what they thought it would,” notes Tim Worman, product manager for commercial vehicles, Iowa Mold Tooling (IMT). They may misunderstand how the maximum rated capacity relates to their application.
There are a couple of components critical to selecting the correct size crane: the weight of the objects to be lifted, and the distance of the object from the centerline of the crane. “An individual should not always look at the maximum that the crane can lift, because the rated maximum is typically measured 3 to 5 ft. from the centerline of the crane’s rotation point,” says Worman. “Not many people do actual lifts at that radius.
“You really want to look at what your realistic lift conditions are,” he continues. “If you want to lift 2,000 lbs. at 10 ft., you would need a 20,000 ft.-lb. crane.” Too often customers get caught looking at the maximum capacity of the crane instead of the load chart to determine the size of the crane needed at their typical reach.
Estimating the weight of the objects to be lifted also presents challenges. “When you look at what you want to lift weight-wise, factor in 5% to 10%,” advises Worman. “You are going to find an instance where you think you know what something weighs, but you really don’t. You never want to order a crane right on what you think you are going to lift every time. You always want to be a little bit bigger.”
The cost does increase with the larger cranes, so you need to evaluate your needs carefully. Buying the biggest crane that is compatible with the GVW rating of your truck is not always the best practice. “If you buy the maximum crane to fit your GVW and you only need a crane that has half of that, you are spending a lot more money than you are going to recoup,” says Worman.
Jerry Nichols, Feterl Mfg. Corp., offers guidelines to help contractors choose the correct size crane. “You should buy a crane that will take care of 80% of your needs minimally,” he recommends.