Lift Planning: Steps to a Successful Crane and Rigging Operation

August 20, 2019

There’s no getting around it, cranes perform dangerous duties. Just getting a mobile lifter from point A to point B is a potentially hazardous task. Remember, all it takes is a patch of uneven ground to deter a seasoned crane operator. Things don’t improve after the equipment arrives at a designated lift site. Ergo, there is the need for a lift plan for a predetermined rigging and load managing strategy that’ll safely handle the entire operation.

Step One: Know the Load

Let’s split the entire process into a series of easy to interpret lift actions. The number one bite-sized lift management task takes the rigging team over to the load. Its weight could raise some concern, so the crane lift charts are consulted. But there’s another couple of measures to address before the load can be checked off as a safe to hoist cargo. Are the dimensions of the heavy consignment known? What about loose materials? If a pile of bricks isn’t tied down, they could shift mid-transit and destabilize the crane. Finally, a payload’s centre of gravity must be determined before the rigging work is finalized.

Step Two: Locating the Lift Points Multiple chains and straps are slung below and through unwieldy material loads during a risk-free crane lift. Critically important here, a safe lift planning document marks out the best sites to place the crane lifting lugs. All required lifting points are assigned in this manner. Now, flipping back a few pages in the document, the load weight and centre of gravity data are used to optimize the rigging gear type and configuration. Chains or straps, or perhaps a combination of both, the harnessing is slung under the cargo and threaded through the lifting lugs. It’s at this juncture that wire cable diameters and shackle capacities are determined. More accurately, all of the rigging data is written down on a master form, perhaps as a series of checkmarks on a pre-lift checklist.

Computers and detailed forms are used to instil crane and rigging lift plans with a procedural thread. The forms contain scores of pre-lift checklists. The computers, well, they’re onboard the latest hire cranes, but these machines are designed to act as system redundancies. They’re the backups and risk-minimizing devices that safeguard a fundamentally hazardous occupation. At the end of the day, it’s the crane driver and rigging foreman who takes charge. To do so, a fixed lift strategy has to be agreed upon and documented before the work commences. It accounts for the rigging requirements, the unique features of every load, and the path of the boom as it travels to its destination.