Polls apart

23 July 2008

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As usual, there are two live polls currently rotating on this site, both addressing the service of overhead lifting equipment. While there's common ground on one, the other demonstrates a concerning difference of opinion.

The first asks: has the increased emphasis placed by high profile manufacturers on the service of lifting equipment resulted in a better deal for end users? At the last count, the majority (69%) reckon it hasn't, while the remainder (31%) argue to the contrary.

The truth is that end users and manufacturers will probably see this very differently and it is merely an opinion rather than a statement of knowledge.

However, the second poll assesses the industry's understanding of crane and hoist inspection and, thus, the importance it places upon it, asking: how long do you think it takes two technicians to conduct a thorough inspection of a 10t double girder top running bridge crane and hoist?

Here's how the answers have been spread so far (or at least at the most recent count at the time of writing): 30 minutes, 15%; 1 hour, 8%; 1-2 hours, 0%; 2-3 hours, 39%; 3-4 hours, 23%; Longer, 15%.

So, visitors are undecided whether it takes 30 minutes or more than four hours. I don't mean to condemn the knowledge of the visitors to this site (in fact, they've proved their awareness to be generally high and astute), but surely it's a concern that they do not know the difference between a thorough inspection (as the question asks) and a bit of a Spring clean and a dust-down, as surely you'd only have time to do in 30 minutes.

It demonstrates to me a real lack of education regarding service and I wonder if it's one that manufacturers and service providers seize upon.

The problem for end users is that there is such a variety of service on offer, literally. They can't all be expected to have a full understanding of the complexities of the lifting equipment they use or the service of it. For many end users a crane is a simple bit of kit. It lifts something up, moves it, then puts it down again.

Will a plant manager at, say, a local production firm really know how long it takes to service his 10t double girder top running bridge crane and hoist? So how can he be expected to choose between a plethora of service packages, without using cost as his only yardstick?

Complicating matters is that some manufacturers strategically design and install their hoists and cranes with electronics and solid state controls that can only be serviced and maintained by their own technicians. The information technology and electrical components, for example, require a skill-set almost exclusive to the manufacturer that designed it.

As I suggested in a recent comment piece, make sure your supplier can not only be on site when you've ordered a new set of mega-bucks bridge cranes but also when there's a breakdown, the repair of which the whole production operation hinges upon. We all know how costly downtime can be.

The service of overhead lifting equipment is an exhaustive subject, but it's important that we air our views, especially with high profile manufacturers putting an increasing emphasis on their service packages. This will only be intensified if economic uncertainty grips economies in the developed world as many analysts say it will, sooner rather than later.

Write to me with your comments.

Richard Howes, Editor

[email protected]