Author Archives: John Lukow

several boom trucks and truck cranes parked in front of an industrial building
All About Crane Operator Certification

A crane operator is someone that works with cranes on a job site. They do a variety of tasks to ensure things get built properly. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the requirements to become one.

Before becoming a crane operator, you must go through a certification process. To get certified, you’ll go through a course and learn everything you need to know about a specific type of crane. Upon getting certified, you’ll be ready to look for employment opportunities!

Keep reading to learn more about crane operator certifications.

What Does a Crane Operator Do?

As a crane operator, you’ll be responsible for inspecting and maintaining cranes. Aside from that, you’ll control them to place materials and equipment around a site.

Throughout the construction process, you must regularly perform safety checks to ensure that the crane is operating correctly. If you run into any issues, you’ll report them to the supervisor.

Whenever you move something, you’ll be responsible for recording the changes. This will make it easier to clear routes for other crew members.

During the crane operator certification course, you’ll learn about how to perform and read crane signals. With this knowledge, you can work on the busiest sites without any problems.

Skills Required

Operating boom trucks and cranes requires a variety of skills that many people overlook. However, employers will have you go through an application process to ensure that you’re capable of becoming a crane operator.

All construction workers must have dexterity, flexibility, and strength. They must also have good depth perception and reaction time. Without these, you won’t be able to do most construction-related tasks.

As a crane operator, you must have all of these skills and more. Unlike building supply workers or other crew members, you must have mechanical knowledge.

Getting Certified

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the organization that oversees job rules and regulations. They require crane operators to be licensed and certified before legally working.

They also require employers to thoroughly vet employees to prevent them from hiring someone without adequate credentials. As soon as you’ve received the proper certification for a crane, you can begin working after being evaluated.

If you look at the NCCCO’s website, you’ll find all the info you need about crane operator certifications. There are different certifications for things like mobile cranes, boom trucks, tower cranes, articulating cranes, and more.

All crane certifications require that you know how to operate a crane. Depending on the crane operator certification you want, you’ll learn about different things. You may learn about several types of cranes, but your course will focus on one.

The NCCCO’s website outlines all the necessary certifications for different crane operating roles. You can expect to take both written and practical exams.

The written exam will ask a variety of questions whereas the practical exam will require you to operate a crane. Both will have time limits and the practical exam will have a pre-test briefing so you can understand which tasks are to be performed.

All equipment used in a practical exam will replicate standard equipment used in the field. If you commit an unsafe act, you’ll automatically fail the exam. An unsafe act is anything that could cause damage to you, another person, or equipment.

Determine Whether It’s for You

If operating large equipment and playing a major role on a job site is something you want to do, becoming a crane operator can ensure you do that.

When it comes to deciding whether it’s something you want, consider all your options. If you don’t have time to attend school, you may want to look for another position. Keep in mind that a crane operator school will offer several classes so that you can fit them into your schedule.

Your certification will be renewed every few years, giving you plenty of time to think about whether you want to keep working.

Become a Crane Operator Today

Go to the NCCCO’s website and look at all their certifications. You can see what the processes entail so you can figure out which certification you want. From there, you can find out where to go to take the course and test.

Contact us to learn more about various types of cranes from a reliable source!

 

Load King Stinger 19-70 Boom Truck, 19 ton crane mounted on a chassis
The Difference Between a Truck Crane and a Boom Truck

The construction industry creates roughly 1.3 billion dollars worth of buildings every year in the United States. One of the most common pieces of equipment used on construction sites is the crane.

Amongst all the different types to choose from, crane trucks make transportation easy. Not to mention they help speed the building process along. However, within the crane truck category, there are many different options—including the truck crane and the boom truck.

These two terms seem interchangeable on the surface, but they are not the same. To learn about the difference between a truck crane and a boom truck, keep reading.

The Boom Truck

A boom truck is a commercial truck with a hydraulic crane attached to its chassis. This structure gave manufacturers plenty of room to create several variations of the boom truck.

The fixed cab is a standard truck with the boom lift on the back. The driver can operate the boom from the front. The downfall of this option is that the person operating the machine cannot see where it is going.

With the swing cab, the operating booth attaches to the lift and, therefore, moves with it. Some have open riding seats, which don’t protect a worker from the outdoor elements. However, they also shift in the same direction as the crane, making it easier for the operator to see what they are doing.

Furthermore, there are fifth-wheel tractors with a boom lift mounted on the back. Sometimes the boom lift faces the front of the vehicle, and the machine sits in the back. Manufacturers refer to this placement as a rear mount.

Boom Truck Crane Types

There are a couple of different types of booms too. Telescopic booms work well on uneven terrain or when there’s a tough spot that workers need to access.

The second type is the articulating lift, which is known for its ability to bend, not so much for its height. The joint in the extension makes it easy to adjust the crane to a precise size and place. It is also useful for workers to get around objects.

Both types of cranes come with the option of having a man basket at the end.

Industries Commonly Using Boom Trucks

The industries that use boom trucks include power and electricity, oil and gas, and commercial roofing.

These lifts come in handy when checking the pressure and the depth of an oil well before drilling occurs. Powerline companies will use boom trucks to keep branches from interfering with electricity and landlines. Even treescaping companies will use them to remove dead limbs.

Construction sites need lifts when putting gravel on flat roofs. This method prevents heat and water exposure, which helps it last longer. It’s also common for drywall companies to use them when building high-rise structures.

The Truck Crane

Unlike the boom truck, the truck crane was specifically built to transport the hydraulic crane using its purpose-built carrier. To fully understand a truck crane’s capabilities, though, one needs to know the different types that are available.

Truck Crane Types

The construction industry uses tower cranes for many of its projects. These are popular because they can reach heights of over 100 feet and carry objects that weigh thousands of pounds.

The crawler crane is unique because instead of wheels, it has tracks, which help it maneuver around the construction site with ease. Because of its traction capabilities, it can move around sandy sites without getting stuck. Not to mention, it has impeccable stability.

Just like its name states, the all-terrain crane excels on paved roads and uneven surfaces. Their multiple axles allow them to do so, and when they have crab steer capabilities, the operator can move in any direction. Additionally, they can withstand harsh weather conditions so that workers can use them at any time of the year.

With all-wheel steering and a low center of gravity, rough-terrain cranes remain steady and secure when navigating through snow, mud, or gravel-covered grounds. Due to its large tires and slow speed, workers cannot drive down public roads in one like they can with the all-terrain crane.

Industries Commonly Using Truck Cranes

Because truck cranes serve many purposes, numerous industries use them. In addition to industrial construction companies, chemical plants, oil companies, and agricultural sectors all need these cranes to handle their equipment and products.

What They Have in Common

When it comes down to it, the thing that boom trucks and truck cranes have in common is that they can access high locations. They lift and place heavy-duty equipment to and from those areas. Additionally, construction sites all around the world use them both because of their versatility and efficiency.

Need To Purchase a Crane?

Knowing about different cranes and the conditions in which they best operate helps make the construction process a lot smoother. No matter what kind of project you are doing or what type of crane you need, Custom Truck One Source has got you covered.

With twenty-six locations across North America and plenty of sales and rental options, it’s easy to get top-notch truck cranes and boom trucks. Fill out this form today and get a quote.

 

Load King Stinger 340-105 truck crane
Finding the Right Crane for You

Whether renting, leasing, or purchasing a crane, the number of options available to you can be overwhelming. Don’t worry, there are some simple ways to narrow down your search. Like most things, what will lead you to the right answer is asking the right questions. Read below for the questions you should ask yourself while trying to find the right crane for you and your business.

What type of crane do I need?

In order to make this determination, we need to first define the types that are available.

  • Crawler Cranes – These have tracks, allowing them to navigate easily throughout a job site, even while carrying a load. They are ideal for jobs that require long, vertical reaches, high-capacity work, or long-term work.
  • All-Terrain Cranes – All-terrain (AT) truck cranes are able to travel at speed on public roads as well as on rough terrain job sites. That makes these well-suited for both on and off-road construction and industrial projects.
  • Rough-Terrain Cranes – Like their name implies, these are built to traverse rough and uneven terrain. This offers versatility for use on work sites, however, their low speed typically restricts their driving capabilities to the work site only.
  • Tower Cranes – Tower cranes are commonly used in the construction industry. They sometimes rise hundreds of feet into the air and can reach out just as far, so they will typically be used at any major construction site.
  • Truck Cranes – Truck cranes offer superior mobility and versatility while still having impressive lifting capacities.

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of crane that should be part of your fleet, the question of size comes into play. Check out our graphic that breaks down the three things to ask regarding the size of the crane you’ll need. And read further for a deeper dive into each of these essential queries.

How much do I need to lift?

Not considering any one particular job, think about the types of markets the crane will apply to. Are there lifts where you are routinely renting a crane, and want to bring those in-house? You should always remember that you can send a larger crane to pick smaller load, but the opposite will never work. Also take into consideration the type of rigging equipment that is necessary:  blocks, spreader bars, straps, etc. as these must be counted in the total load.

How high in the air do I need to go?

The necessary boom length is actually the function of this question and the following one, but it is easier to understand one at a time. Working around residential housing requires a different tip height than working on cell phone towers.  Small commercial buildings up to five stories are quite common, requiring at least a 70 foot tip height to allow for rigging and handling. Man-basket work is also quite common and working heights continue to grow. Nearly all cranes can be equipped with a jib or lattice inserts to increase working height, however this usually adds time to the setup and tear-down of the crane, and any terrain issues make erecting the jib difficult. The point is to try to do as many jobs as possible on the main boom, saving the jib for unique situations.

 

How far away do I need to lift or place the load?

This is the second part of the question that helps with boom length. As the load moves further from the centerline of rotation, the amount of leverage increases. Hold your beer out at arm’s length for a while, and you will see what I mean. Higher boom angles are more efficient for lifting. The longer the boom, the higher the angle when lifting at the same radius. Many cranes have some capacity at low boom angles, especially a knuckle-boom loader, but most cranes take advantage of the higher boom angles to lift.

Once you answer these questions, you can roughly judge the size of crane you need.  Keep in mind that a 50-ton crane would almost never be used to lift 100,000 pounds, because the radius is so close to the crane as to make it impractical.  You will need to gather some load charts for the target class of crane and use the values from the three questions above to see what minimum specification you will need.

This may sound a little complicated, but you don’t need to be an expert or do this all on your own. At Custom Truck One Source, we have a knowledgeable crane team that’s available to help you with each step along the way.

 

A-Frame outriggers on a Load King Stinger 19-70
Outriggers for Crane Trucks and How to Safely Operate Them

Any industrial job that needs material or workmen to be lifted off the ground requires the services of a crane. Crane trucks are heavy-duty vehicles outfitted with different kinds of cranes — stiff booms, knucklebooms, grapples, aerial buckets, etc. — and transport the lifting equipment to and from a jobsite. Some trucks also have payload-carrying capacity.

Once the truck-mounted crane has been positioned to work, the crane must be leveled.

This is where outriggers come in.

What Are Outriggers?

Outriggers (sometimes called Stabilizers) are retractable hydraulic `legs’ that extend, like a spider’s legs, away from the truck before they make contact with the ground.

Hydraulic outriggers commonly come in two shapes. There is the H style, with a pair of square or round legs positioned at the end of an extendable horizontal beam. The other is the A frame. Instead of extending out and down like an H-style, these extend down at an angle.

Regardless of their style, their purpose is to provide a solid, stable base by distributing the crane’s load over a wider area. Without them, crane trucks’ lifting capacity would be be significantly limited. (Think about trying to hold a bowling ball out to your side without spreading your legs).

Improper or careless set-up of the outrigger legs can cause serious accidents. In fact, according to OSHA, 80 % of incidents of cranes tipping occur due to human error, when the operator exceeds the crane’s lifting capacity. And over 50 % of these accidents are due to the improper use of outriggers. It is important, therefore, to make sure that the outriggers are properly deployed before activating the crane.

Outrigger Safety Checklist

#1: Inspect the Ground

When working with equipment that requires outriggers, the condition of the ground on which the outriggers will sit is the first concern.

When cranes exert hundreds of thousands of pounds of force over a small patch of ground area – be it asphalt, concrete, gravel, or loose, sandy, or wet soil, the concentrated pressure under the stabilizer legs can easily exceed the strength of the ground below, called the Ground Bearing Pressure.  If the load exceeds the strength of the surface, the equipment can sink, damage surfaces and sub-surfaces, or topple over.  One can measure the Ground Bearing Pressure with an inexpensive tool called a Penetrometer.

Additionally, the ground has to be inspected for slopes, depressions, voids, trenches, or any other irregularity that could compromise the equipment’s stability. If found, the area must be prepared until you are confident your equipment can safely operate on it.

#2: Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When setting up a crane truck in a busy, congested area, make sure the outriggers are not interfering with traffic. If they are, redirect the flow of traffic or readjust the position of the equipment to operate from a safer distance.

#3: Know the Maximum Outrigger Reaction Force

The manufacturer can provide outrigger force calculations following the creation of a lift plan. The outrigger reaction force applied through the outrigger feet is compared to the Ground Bearing Pressure to determine if the lift can be performed or if additional outrigger pads are required.  The force calculated often surprises even experienced operators. Think about the bowling ball experiment. As you reach out further, your entire weight plus the weight of the ball will be on one foot. This is, in fact, the simplest approach to take in estimating the maximum outrigger reaction force. The entire weight of the crane plus the entire weight of the load applied to one foot. It’s often not as overly conservative as it sounds and can be done quickly on-site.

#4: Inspect and Position Outrigger Pads

Outrigger legs may be positioned on outrigger pads. These pads, or mats, increase the ground surface area over which the stabilizer force is distributed. They provide a firm, level surface on which you can perform your lift safely.

Before placing the pads down, make sure they are smooth and free from soil build-up and other debris. They should sit solidly on the ground. The entire surface of the pads should sit in contact with the ground. If there are depressions and voids, don’t set up your pads over them. Don’t use outrigger pads that are smaller than the outriggers’ feet. And finally, double-check to make sure that the outrigger foot is placed precisely in the center point of the outrigger pad.

#5: Be Alert to Signs of Instability

Always be on alert when the crane is at work. Watch every lift for any anomaly that may signal a problem. Watch the outrigger feet and/or pads for indications that they are sinking into the ground.  Lifting of outriggers on the side opposite of the load is allowable on some equipment.  Consult your operator’s manual.  If you suspect something is amiss with the functioning of the equipment, stop the lift immediately, investigate the problem, and correct it before a serious accident could occur.

boom truck testing cycle to replicate years of use
1986 Just Called and They Want Their Truck Back

You will see clean and efficient production operations inside World War II-era buildings if you visit Custom Truck One Source in Kansas City.  The Ross family has made a considerable investment to return the former Armco Steel property to its former glory as productive assets for a thriving business.  Each of the buildings retains its riveted walls and the original overhead cranes. We took great care to waste nothing and reuse what we could.

That kind of thinking is at the root of the success of Custom Truck One Source.  Take the best from what you have and then build something fantastic from that base.

When Custom Truck bought Terex boom truck and truck crane product line (promoting as Load King) in 2019, we knew that introducing new products would be necessary to be successful.  We also knew that time was of the essence.  We inherited a product line with a proud heritage, but also one that needed to be updated.

One of our new product developments is a new 5-section boom for the 35-ton class riding seat machine.  Previously, the most complex boom we made only had four sections.  We designed a new extend and retract system to make use of high-strength steel cables.  We wanted to simulate years of use to ensure the reliability of the complete system. This involves thousands of extend and retract cycles at various boom angles and loads.

In the past, a crane operator would have to perform these cycles.  This work is quite tedious, and having an operator on a crane full time for weeks is expensive.  We worked with a supplier to build an interface to allow the crane to cycle automatically.  It is still necessary for a person to set up the parameters of a test, but then the computer can take over and repeat the cycle the required number of times without further interaction.  The crane has limit switches that will shut down the operation if certain conditions are met, making the whole process highly automated.

To move as quickly as possible, we repurposed a 1980’s Mack truck that had been taken in on trade.   The crane on the Mack was an RS60100, the predecessor to the RS7100 in production when we bought the product line. The sub-base and outriggers were still good, and we mounted our brand-new boom and turret on top.  We even reused the RS60100 open seat controls.  We took advantage of idle assets that could have gone to scrap, and we are leveraging them to launch our new 35-ton rider seat crane.  Following the Ross family’s lead, we wasted nothing that could be repurposed.

“The truck starts up every day.”

“It’s a workhorse.”

“It will probably last longer than me.”

The above are direct quotes that we hear every day on the durability of the truck.

At Custom Truck One Source, we take our heritage of repurposing, reusing, and constant innovation seriously.