When factoring in cost and time, repairing a damaged crane rather than replacing it with a new one is the preferred option is most situations.
Bert Avezaat, director at Netherlands-based crane repair company Avezaat, says, “We are not focused on simply renewing parts, we look over them and try find the most cost efficient way to repair or refurbish a crane. This means that if parts need to be renewed, we obviously renew them, but when repair is a better option, we will do this.
“Repairing parts saves a lot of money and time as long as it does not compromise the quality or safety of the crane. Also, the insurance companies prefer this option, which will save money for the client in the end, since the insurance costs won’t increase too much.”
Crowland Cranes repaired the damage from an engine fire on a Tadano ATF 40G all terrain crane
Recent examples of cranes refurbished by Avezaat include a Terex-Demag AC 700, a Liebherr HS 895HD, a Hitachi KH 300 and a Kobelco CKE 2500. Work included an overhaul of the crawlers and the rest of the undercarriage, and the full booms were repaired and painted. The company checked the slewing rings and, where necessary, the engine, winches and hydraulic motors were refurbished.
Crane manufacturer Terex says that it is the hands-on experience with the crane models that tips the balance between repair and replacement. The crane owners trust the machines they have and are wary of investing in something new.
Crowland Cranes repaired the damage from an engine fire on a Tadano ATF 40G all terrain crane
Erwann Maillot, spokesperson at Terex, says, “End users can be a bit apprehensive about newer models and their new functions, despite the additional benefits those offer. That’s why they first think about repairing, instead of renewing. Obviously, it is also a matter of cost for customers because repairing a crane is a smaller investment compared to a new purchase.
“Also, in the case of accidents, the residual value of the damaged crane sometimes simply justifies a repair.”
Refurbishments at Terex – usually seen on models that are between seven and 12 years old – can be carried out at many factories internationally, including Zweibrücken in Germany as well as the repair stations the company has in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Latin America. Recent jobs include work on AC and CC models in many capacities – Terex says it is often a case of polishing and re-chroming parts of hydraulic cylinders, and replacing rollers and seals.
Maillot adds, “The CC 2800 had a badly damaged boom section, which we repaired and delivered fully functional and safe again.”
UK-based crane repair company Crowland Cranes explains that the most cost-effective and efficient way to proceed is by repairing a crane, depending on the extent of the damage. Peter Issit, managing director at Crowland Cranes, says, “For refurbishing, the main factor will normally be if the model is still available and manufactured. If so, then replacement is the normal choice. However, if the model is no longer manufactured, the refurbishment of a crane is seriously considered.”
In terms of safety, Issit says the company is not experiencing any negative effects from safety laws and regulations surrounding repair and refurbishment, and he feels this is to do with the company’s standards of work, facility and skill base.
Crowland describes its Peterborough site as one of the UK’s largest workshop facilities for mobile cranes, exceeding five acres and having four paint shops, four welding and fabrication bays, nine service bays, shot blasting and its own engineer training departments.
Remounting on a new DAF LF45 truck chassis and complete refurbishment of the superstructure of a Tadano TS75 by Crowland Cranes
Issit says, “Our high standards have greatly helped us in obtaining the title of approved repair centre for two of the UK’s main insurers, Allianz and Aviva.”
USA-based heavy lift and transport company Lampson International states that it adheres to the OSHA and ASME recommendations for inspection, maintenance and repair.
Kate Lampson at Lampson Crane says, “We can typically remanufacture the older cranes for a fraction of the cost that we would spend on a new crane. We have found that with the ongoing remanufacture of our Lampson Millennium 4100 crawler cranes, we are able to offer that same type of cost saving to our customers and they appreciate that.”
Repair and refurbishment at Avezaat
The Lampson 4100 Millennium crawler is said by the company to “combine the structural integrity and versatility of the Manitowoc 4100 with the safety and ease of operation of the new generation hydraulic operating system cranes”.
The company has its own in-house training programme for refurbishing cranes as well as working with local harbour unions for training of all its personnel, including manufacturers’ certifications.
Bert Avezaat explains some of the safety concerns that have come to light following the difficult economic situation last year. He says, “Many companies have been carrying out less maintenance and servicing on their cranes. This is causing a lot of extra work and pressure on the notified bodies, who must inspect and approve the cranes on a regular basis.
“It is also hard for companies to keep their skilled and experienced employees up to date, because of the increased frequency of safety inspections and regulations.”
Crane manufacturer Liebherr has three repair halls in Germany: Ehingen, Oberhausen and Alt-Bork (Berlin). Outside Germany it has repair and service halls in France, UK, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Australia, Russia, Brazil and USA – highlighting the popularity of repair and refurbishment for its crane lines.
“We repair, if it is cheaper than replacing certain components,” says Wolfgang Beringer at Liebherr. “But, besides economy, the availability of those parts is also a deciding factor. Sometimes you must repair as a new part is not available. We also consider the condition of the crane and the wishes of the customer.”
Liebherr sees the safety guidelines for repair and refurbishment as very similar to the regulations that apply to the manufacture of new cranes, for example, the company must have proof that the welding work it does is completed by qualified staff.
It is a similar story for Terex, which treats the refurbishment of cranes with the same level of safety awareness as though a new crane was being built. Maillot says, “The Terex Cranes repair shops apply the same functional testing and load testing –
if required – as the ones we apply in the acceptance testing area of our factories for new equipment. Provided that the crane is restored to the original equipment manufacturer’s specifications, the original certificates apply.”
Repair and refurbishment has continued to gain popularity as costs are lower and end users are more inclined to stick to the machines they know and trust rather than making the substantial investment to purchase a new model that may be seen as too much of an unknown quantity.
Avezaat expects this market to continue to grow in the next few years, but that there are challenges ahead. Bert Avezaat explains that because the offshore market declined last year due to low oil prices and because of less work coming in, these companies are not positive about the coming year.
He says, “We also hear more and more negative news about the Far East from our clients. They are also feeling the consequences of the low oil prices and are not willing to invest much now. We hope this situation will get a bit better in the second half of next year.”
The company remains positive, however, with a new workshop operating in Dubai that offers “better and faster repair and refurbishment solutions” in the Middle East area. Avezaat adds that many of its clients would like to invest in new cranes, but that difficulties with financing this type of equipment and lack of profits from 2016 for some, has led to more cranes being repaired.
Crowland Cranes says that there are fewer recognised repairers now in the UK, as the costs to operate such facilities are significant because investment in people and technology is continually needed. In light of this, the company has a steady workflow.
Issit says, “Customers will always consider the repair options on crane parts and components if the service provider has a good level of service, at a sensible cost and can complete the job in a timely fashion.”
Liebherr says it is seeing less demand for completely reconditioned and newly painted cranes, but customers are requesting technically refurbished cranes. Beringer says, “The demand and delivery times of new cranes have a large influence on the used crane market. Older and cheaper used cranes allow entry in new markets, whereas new cranes or young, used cranes cannot be financed.”
Maillot at Terex comments on the company’s concerns about repairs carried out by third parties. He says that repair shops can often be ‘unqualified to carry out the required quality of work’, especially when it comes to load bearing components and structures.
He adds, “We have seen accidents related to such bad repairs, so we inform our customers accordingly, together with the repair offer, to avoid third parties providing poor quality at low prices. Price should not be the only criterion when it comes to a decision on the place of repair, especially when it comes to safety and readiness of the equipment.
“Crane owners and insurance companies should be informed about the potential risks related to crane repairs performed by third party companies, or persons not accredited or recognised by the OEM.”