1. In most bulk carrier ships, the crane provided on the ship’s deck is for both hook operation and grab operation. It is possible to have two different safe working loads for such cranes, i.e. one for hook and another for grab operation. Ensure the Safe Working Load (SWL) is displayed clearly in the Jib and the same is mentioned in the operator’s cabin to eliminate any confusion between the two SWL.
2. When handling the crane with a load that is near its rated capacity, ensure to operate with patience and extreme caution, especially when using lifting slings. If the rated capacity limiter activates, the crane boom will suddenly stop causing the load to swing or bounce.
3. During the stowed position, the hook of the hoist is clamped to a strong fixed point on the deck. Ensure when lifting the boom/jib, it has been unhooked, and the jib is free of obstructions.
4. Never operate the Crane Jib below its lower limit with a load on the hoist, which can lead to failure of the jib or slipping of wire from its drum.
5. Various limit switches are provided to restrict the movement of the jib crane to its maximum position. Most of the cranes are provided with a key to bypass the limit switch for the jib. The operator and chief officer must ensure the key is never left in the cabin of the crane once the operation is finished. The key should be operated only under the chief officer’s supervision, and the crane should be operated with utmost care.
6. Always check the base structure of the vessel before operating it to loosen foundation bolts and cracks in the structure. When the crane is operating at its maximum load, the base structure undergoes heavy stresses.
7. The base structure contains rotational parts involving sheaves, bearings, slew rings, etc. They should be timely inspected to determine any wear on the parts. All these moving parts and equipment must be lubricated correctly using the appropriate grease.
8. It has been reported in the past about the welding or other hot work carried out by ship staff on crane structures or jibs. Never carry out any modification or welding job on a crane structure or jib without consulting the maker. It is substantial load-carrying machinery subjected to massive, fluctuating loads. The crane parts are often made of a high-tensile material, for which specialized welding and repairing procedures are needed. If the jib of the crane shows any damage, it has to be reported to the owner and maker for getting the recommended repair advice.
9. When performing welding on crane parts such as a jib, parts carrying wire ropes, etc., it is recommended to disconnect the battery and switch off all the electronic control modules and any other electronic components provided in the crane.
10. The most common failure related to the crane is the failure of wire ropes. The steel wire ropes must be lubricated to all their length and especially in the way of sheaves when the crane is in the stowed position. It is the responsibility of the Chief Officers to ensure all parts of the wire rope are regularly inspected and dressed with lubrication. Lack of lubrication may increase the rate of corrosion, leading to a decrease in the elasticity, fractured strand, breakage of wire, etc. The ancillary parts for carrying the cable such as the pully and winch drum must be greased to eliminate any rough surface and friction.
11. The ship staff has to timely check the condition of the hydraulic oil. The most common reason for deck crane machinery failure is dirty hydraulic oil, leading to the choking of filters. The oil should be sent to shore for analysis at prescribed intervals of time to get a detailed analysis of the system.
12. The brakes being the critical safety arrangement for the crane, has to be inspected at regular intervals of time by checking the lining condition for its thickness. If disk brakes are provided, clearance must be checked and the record to be added to the PMS file.
13. Many times it has been observed onboard that the covers of the limit switch box or other electrical connections are kept open all the time for ease of checking. Always shut the cover as it has a waterproofing arrangement that prevents the switch from malfunctioning during rainy weather.
14. Hydraulic leaks are very common in all types of cranes, whether it is an onboard deck cargo crane or a gantry crane in port. Never check the leaks using bare hands. Even a small hole will have pressurized hydraulic oil coming out as a fine mist that will penetrate and damage the skin and could do worse to human eyes. Always stop the operation, de-pressurize the line and then start the repair work.