What happens when a 200-pound bear gets stuck up high in a tree? It gets photographed while being lifted with a crane, of course. READ MORE.
So you’ve decided you want to work in heavy industry, specifically with cranes, but where do you begin? To help you make informed choices, and start you on the way to a fulfilling career, we’ll briefly review the crane industry’s primary career paths and the specific education, training, and experience required for each.
Most crane operators working in construction or manufacturing today enter their careers through an apprenticeship program, such as those offered by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Much of the actual training occurs on the job and focuses on safety (including compliance with OSHA regulations), communication between operators and other workers, and of course equipment operation. Several private training schools also offer educational programs leading to licensing and certification. State licensure requirements vary but typically involve both a written and practical skills test. Employers may also require operators to have professional certification, as provided by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). NCCCO recertification is required at 5-year intervals to ensure that operators remain current with the latest equipment and safety regulations. Recertification also requires a passing exam grade and proof of 1000 hours of crane operation during the prior 5-year period. Careerbuilder.com estimates annual salaries of $36,000 (starting) and $45,000 (average) for crane operators in the U.S.
Safety engineers are in demand in the industrial, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and construction arenas and are responsible for identifying and minimizing risk in the workplace as well as for ensuring compliance with OSHA regulations and industry standards. Safety engineers identify risks in both equipment and procedures and work to create solutions that reduce the chances for worker injury, equipment failure, and damage. The position typically requires a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering, most often through a 4-year program. Specialty degrees in safety management and occupational safety and health are also offered by some educational institutions. The American Society of Safety Engineers (www.asse.org) is a good place to begin your search for schools offering degree programs in the field. A typical annual salary for a degreed safety engineer is currently about $75,000.
Crane inspectors are the principal line of defense against accidents. They are responsible for the detection of any damage, defects, or risk factors that may pose a risk in crane operation, as well as for ensuring that all equipment meets OSHA regulations and industry standards. Duties include visual and operational inspection of booms, gears, drums, sheaves, blocks, hooks, rigging, hydraulics, as well as load testing, interpretation of load test results, and proper record keeping. Inspectors also ensure that standards for regular maintenance and care of equipment are met. Several educational institutions provide career training and certification. The NCCCO (www.nccco.org) instituted a specific crane inspector certification program in 2011. Annual salaries range by region but are typically between $35,000 and $50,000.
Crane buyer/purchasing agent
A purchasing agent is responsible for controlling expenditures and maximizing value. In the crane industry, that means choosing the appropriate equipment for the job while maximizing productivity, ensuring quality, minimizing costs, complying with safety regulations, and reducing redundancy. Duties also include supervising the transport, storage, and maintenance of all procured equipment, as well as keeping careful track of all transactions and documentation, including invoicing. Typically a purchasing agent will have a bachelor’s degree in business administration earned through a 4-year program. Larger corporations may require a master’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates annual earnings for purchasing agents were between $39,000 and $66,000 for 2011.
Crane salesperson/industrial sales
Industrial sales representatives are responsible for cultivating and maintaining the client relationships that generate revenue and promote repeat business. Identifying prospective clients, providing information, answering questions, building rapport, and ensuring customer satisfaction are all important duties of the sales representative in the crane industry. The position also demands accurate record-keeping, maintaining sales reports, and assessing the competitive position of the company’s products. Educational requirements vary and depending on the position, may require a degree or experience in either marketing or engineering. The primary requirement, however, is the ability to connect with people. There is no substitute for solid interpersonal skills, and the sales representative is the company’s public face, its connection to its clients, and its chief revenue generator. Salary and commission structures vary, but the average annual compensation for the position is around $65,000.
There are many engineering career paths in the crane industry—from mechanical, structural, and electrical engineer to project, field, and sales engineer. In the crane industry, mechanical, electrical, and structural engineers are most often involved in the design and product development arenas, creating products that are both durable and versatile, powerful and practical, state-of-the-art and user-friendly. While terms such as mechanical and electrical engineer are self-explanatory, those such as field engineer can involve varying responsibilities. Field engineers in the crane industry typically oversee the installation, construction, or assembly of equipment on site. Project engineers typically straddle the boundary between engineering and project management—including budgeting, scheduling, planning, and interpreting design instructions. Sales engineers help clients match their needs and their facility’s specifications with the company’s products and services. In all cases a degree in engineering is required. Depending on the position, a subspecialty certification such as electrical engineering may also be required. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average annual salary for mechanical engineers to be $78,000; for electrical engineers to be $89,000; for sales engineers to be $87,000; and for project engineers/construction managers to be $83,000.
Quality assurance manager
Maintaining quality standards is essential to any manufacturer. In the crane industry, that means inspecting products and materials for any signs of defect or deviation from the manufacturer’s prescribed standards. Quality assurance managers (or quality control inspectors) typically train on the job, as each employer will have specific criteria and requirements for its products. A high school diploma or GED is often sufficient. A successful inspector has a keen sense for identifying damage, defect, or substandard materials, and is also responsible for maintaining accurate records and documentation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual salaries for the position average around $33,000.
This post was contributed by SPANCO, a leading overhead crane company. They offer products such as jib cranes, gantry cranes, monorail cranes, and much more.
When planning a rigging training program, it is important to ensure that you consider the whole training experience. If your company is willing to take personnel out of the field for instruction, make sure it is worth the money being invested.
ITI’s blended learning approach is a great way to ensure students receive a well-rounded education that keeps them engaged at every level. Recently ITI has released the following e-learning courses:
These provide another dynamic element to the comprehensive existing rigging programs.
Students are now able to blend e-learning modules before and after their training programs at ITI Training Centers or programs at their facilities. So, why do they do so?
- The blended learning approach works best as students with a variety of learning styles remain engaged. With the addition of e-learning, students learn through multiple platforms: videos, interactive games, instructor-led classroom instruction, and live, hands-on workshops.
- E-learning provides an excellent foundation for students new to the field of rigging by introducing them to terminology and basic concepts at their personal speed. This prepares them for attending the training program with greater confidence in their ability to learn the material.
- Practice makes perfect! E-Learning is an ideal solution for courses that involve rigging calculations! If you have students that are new to calculations or simply need some extra time learning the math behind rigging, ITI’s e-learning options provide similar workshops for your personnel to work through at their own pace.
- After attending a program, an e-learning course becomes an excellent tool for reinforcing the skills and concepts learned. Sometimes a four-day course can go by quickly with a multitude of information – e-learning assists students in retaining the wealth of information presented during the live program.
- Lastly, E-learning programs may serve as a study tool in preparation for national certification exams.
Learn more about ITI E-Learning Here and feel free to contact an ITI Training Solutions Experts today to learn how a blended learning package will work for you, your company, and most importantly, your people.
Lead Training Solutions Associate
Industrial Training International
This photo to the left was submitted to the ITI Training Solutions Team with the following concern: “We have a number of cranes in use that have hooks having simple spring loaded safety latches. The edge of the latch is not particularly sharp but it possibly could bite into a synthetic sling and cut the edge of it.” The client went on to ask: “Are you aware of any instances where the safety latch on a crane hook has damaged synthetic slings that are being used?”
Tasked with the goal of providing the best feedback and suggestions for the client, the Training Solutions Team consulted with our Field Services Division to review the problem and come up with the best response. Together, we reviewed the photo in question, along with ASME B30.9. Section B30.9-5.10.4 (d) states: “Slings in contact with edges, corners, protrusions, or abrasive surfaces shall be protected with a material of sufficient strength, thickness, and construction to prevent damage.” We also considered ASME B30.9-5.10.4 (o) which states: “Slings should not be constricted, bunched, or pinched by the load, hook, or any fitting.”
Armed with this knowledge, our Training Solutions Team, with the assistance of our Field Services division, took a series of photographs to illustrate the problem and offer a solution for our client.
The first photograph (to the right) is a replication of the photo submitted to us, which clearly shows that there is too much rigging in the hook, and the rigging might be oversized in relation to the size of the hook. This is a situation where the latch might damage the sling in use.
Our Field Services division and Training Solutions Team agreed that the first option would be the use of a screw pin anchor shackle and to rig from the shackle. This is an “acceptable” alternative to rigging directly from the hook. The photo at left illustrates this suggestion.
The final suggestion is what we considered the superior option to help solve the client’s problem. It is the utilization of a master link subassembly and two flat shackles, which prevents sling bunching and helps protect the slings from sharp edges.
Furnished with these new ideas, the client responded with excitement and gratitude that there were better options than what he was using which would save his slings and provide a better overall rigging experience for his company.
The ITI Training Solutions Team (shown below) is always available to take questions from the field and provide feedback. If you have questions about safe rigging practices, please feel free to contact the team: Neil, Valerie, Jeff, or Christina and be sure to check out our rigging training programs. ITI and staff will be there for you to help you “Rig it Right”.
Crane & Rigging Audits
Often we are asked to perform audits for companies that are involved in production, energy, offshore construction and construction in both the private and government sectors. Requests for audits may be the result of new client requests, internal observations of deficiencies or from observations made by a third party company providing training on site. In some cases, audit requests stem from crane or rigging accidents that involved injury, fatality(s) or property damage, which are the result of improper rigging applications or crane operations. In this blog, we will focus on third party audits.
First, let’s define audit: Audits are performed to ascertain the validity and reliability of information; also to provide an assessment of a system's internal control. The goal of an audit is to express an opinion on the person/organization/system (etc.) in question, under evaluation based on work done on a test basis. Quality third party audits should be conducted by a company that is recognized in the crane and rigging industry. The consultants are capable of verifying conformance to standards through review of objective evidence.
When the company has been selected, a meeting should take place prior to the audit with all concerned parties. After introductions, a brief summary should be given as to the purpose of the audit, the scope of work and the work areas that are to be audited (rigging lockers, rigging applications, cranes, etc.). If employees are to be interviewed at work stations, establish times when this can be achieved and, if applicable, that translators are made available. A timeline should be agreed upon by both parties. The company being audited will be given an informal field report before the auditor leaves the property or receive the formal report with findings and recommendations at a later date. The formal report will highlight deficiencies and findings raised with recommendations being made by the auditor. Also noted in this report will be areas that were noted to be in compliance and highlights of those positive observations. A follow up audit would be recommended based on the audit findings.
The company being audited should have the following readily available for the audit:
- Company crane & rigging guidelines in use
- OSHA or ASME standards in use
- Training records of employees
- Certification records of crane operators
- Certification records of riggers & inspectors
- Maintenance inspection records of cranes included in audit
- Inspection records of rigging (slings, hardware & hooks)
In closing, companies and personnel typically have a fear of audits as they feel that the purpose is to highlight deficiencies and raise findings that are negative. Although these findings would be in the audit report, positive sightings will also be included in the report.
ITI provides third party audits for our clients both domestic and international. Some prior international audit locations include: Nigeria, China, Panama, Mexico, Netherlands, Caspian Sea, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Quatar, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia.
Become a Successful Rigging Gear Inspector
Employees selected or assigned to be rigging gear inspectors must be committed to ensuring the integrity of the inspection by performing the work required in a competent manner. The knowledge needed to be competent to conduct the specific duties required of the rigging gear inspector can be gained by attending ITI’s (Industrial Training International) Certified Rigging Gear Inspector program. This class offers an effective combination of classroom and hands-on practical training; students learn the skills and knowledge needed. This training program builds confidence in the rigging gear inspector to be able to make the decision to remove damaged, worn or defective rigging gear, hardware or below the hook lifting devices from service.
Students who attend this class whether they are from the different trades, tool room managers, production workers or qualified riggers return to the workplace confident in their knowledge and ability to recognize the different types of damage that occur. This damage can result from normal use or more commonly seen poor rigging practices. Each chapter of the ASME B30.9 Slings and B30.26 Rigging Hardware Safety Standards contain a section titled Operating Practices, located there is section called Rigging Practices with very helpful information on the proper usage of slings and rigging hardware.
A company’s experience modification factor or work history can be the difference in being successful in today’s competitive market. Plain and simple - allowing inspections of your lifting gear by rigging inspectors lacking certain qualities can have disastrous results. The folks on your team designated or appointed as rigging gear inspectors at a minimum need to be:
1) Committed to performing the work (yes that means no pencil whipping) required of the inspection.
2) Competent in their skills to recognize and correctly identify the condition of the rigging gear.
3) Confident in their knowledge of the applicable codes, standards and industry guidelines to determine if the conditions discovered during the inspection meet the criteria for removal from service or can be allowed to remain available for continued use.
The collective work of the crane and rigging team is compromised by allowing the qualified rigger or maintenance worker to employ rigging gear of any type that has not been inspected or inspected by a well meaning person who is limited by what they do not know. As rigging gear inspectors we must be committed, competent and confident to be successful in our craft.
As Mobile Crane Operators
, we are in command of a multi million-dollar machine that are regularly making multi-million dollar lifts. Not only are we expected to know the best way to execute the lift, but also the safest way. In the ever-changing world of mobile crane operations, it is more important than ever to stay up-to-date with the regulations as well as best practices. Here are 10 tips you can use to help ensure success:
1. Never override the mobile crane’s computer.
2. Be aware of all overhead hazards – specifically close-by buildings and any power lines that are within the zone of operation.
3. Read the load charts – prior to turning the key in any new mobile crane.
4. Cell phones in the cab – while the crane’s key is on the cell phone is off.
5. Always note the changing conditions on the jobsite – from personnel to weather to surroundings.
6. Sometimes in a working situation, the crane operator needs to stop, evaluate, and find a safer lift plan.
7. Check ground conditions – before crane setup, ensure that the site is suitable to support your mobile crane and the future suspended loads.
8. Use appropriate pads & cribbing – mobile crane operators need to make sure they are using correct pads or cribbing to avoid having an outrigger fail or sink when they are making a lift.
9. Before starting your crane, always double check the oil, gas, and other fluid levels.
10. At the beginning of your shift, walk-around your crane checking for mechanical, electrical, structural, and hydraulic issues (MESH).
Mobile crane operators are a small brotherhood whose main goal is to ensure the safety of those we are working with. If we can avoid a few simple operating errors, it will go a long way in avoiding an incident on the job site.
Las Vegas, Nevada 2011
The week of March 21-25, 2011 Industrial Training International, Inc teamed up with Crane Institute Certification to put on a Crane and Rigging Rodeo in one of the largest safety construction shows in the United States. This show brought over 120,000 industry professionals from over 150 countries attended with about 2400 exhibitors spanning 2.34 million net square feet of exhibit space. With a show of this size, ITI had to pull out the all the stops to make our exhibit a one of a kind experience for our custumers!
Mike Parnell, President of ITI and I put our heads together and came up with some events to challenge our participants while promoting education and safety at the same time as providing hands-on operational experience. The list that follows are the “rodeo events” that where conducted at the show.
- Bucket Brigade - Lift and move a small bucket of water from the designated take-off point to the designated landing point. Place the bucket into the receiving stand. 3-5 minutes (Points off for spillage and time.)
- Short Chain Drag - Lift and maneuver the CIC test weight through a slalom course with 1.5' of drag chain suspended, maintaining contact at all times. Chain not off the ground completely, test weight not to drag. 10 minutes. (Points off for time, chain off ground, weight on ground, and barrel contact.)
- Magnet Man - Using a sling suspended foundry hook from the crane's block hook, maneuver the crane from the designated take-off point to the magnet. Cause the foundry hook to engage the magnet bail. Lift the magnet and maneuver the magnet to a small steel plate and cause the magnet to attach itself to the small plate. Land the entire assembly in the designated landing point. 3-5 minutes (Points off for time, and missing landing point.)
- Pipe Stab - From the designated take-off point lift a sling with an attached 5' pipe to a vertical position. Maneuver the pipe to a receiving stand and insert the pipe through a hole so that the pipe comes to rest in a vertical position, with slack in the sling. 3-5 minutes (Points off for time and knocking the stand over.)
After evaluation of the above events, it was my job to customize, build and create the piece's to put the rodeo events together.
With 2000 miles of travel, a week of rodeo events, meeting with hundreds of potential clients trying to better the crane and rigging world, the Crane and Rigging Show in Las Vegas was a complete success!!
In 1992, Mike Parnell was asked by Dave Gentry to visit Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to conduct a 5-day Mobile Crane Operator Training Course for Peak Oilfield Service Co. While onsite, the group received the "go-ahead" from P&H to conduct this unconventional load turn operation with a mobile crane. Parnell stood back and watched, as the rules on the ground were that all personnel were to stand out of the way of the crane's fall zone.
Fast forward nearly 20 years to 2010. The location is half-way around the world from Alaska's North Slope . . . 1LT Jonathan Parnell, XO, 34th Sapper Company, US Army, oversees the off-loading of a unit with a Terex container top pick. Mike’s eldest son, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a degree in Civil Engineering (and a graduate of ITI’s Master Rigger Training Program) began his tour of Iraq in October.
In certain work areas, weapons are required!
On a recent, long drive from Birmingham to Memphis a discussion broke out regarding the things a rigger needs to know before rigging a load.
The first two things always at the top of the list are: the load’s weight and center of gravity. Incidentally, I sidetracked the conversation when I asked, “But which one is the most important?”
You can imagine the deep, philosophical discussion that question set in motion. Without knowing the load’s weight there cannot be a center of gravity. Likewise, without knowing the center of gravity, there would be no weight. This part of the conversation ate up about 30 minutes of our long trip, but it got the juices to stirring.
I don’t think these two items should be number one or two in any particular order. They should both be number one. This number one question the rigger must determine, load weight and CG, is the foundation to any lifting operation. And they cannot really be determined independent of each other.
If you are using a mobile crane or overhead crane, without knowing the load’s weight, no decision can be made as to whether the crane can make the lift. Further, the position of the crane hook over the load is determined by the center of gravity. Lastly, without the weight and the center of gravity, the length and size of the slings cannot be determined. Remember the slings hold the hook over the center of gravity and prevent the load from rotating around the center of gravity (load control).
I am afraid that if we truly knew how many loads were lifted every day without first arriving at the answer to question one, we would be shocked.
Rigging is not a guessing occupation, it is a thinking occupation.
Don’t be a guesser, be a rigger.