Periodic overload testing of mobile cranes could soon be a thing of the past under the influence of crane manufacturers in the FEM.

FEM (Fédération Européenne de la Manutention), which represents European manufacturers of material handling including lifting equipment and mobile cranes, is working on a recommendation that periodic overload testing should no longer be required. The view is that overload tests should only be required after a crane has undergone major rebuild, modification or repair that affect structural elements. In that situation the type and configuration of the test would be only to ensure the capability of the repaired part.

The FEM Cranes and Lifting Equipment product group will make the recommendations to lawmakers and health and safety executives in a position paper. The need for this move became clear on 7 June at the six monthly crane section meeting of ESTA, the European Association of Abnormal Road Transport and Mobile Cranes. The meeting was held during the International Rental Exhibition in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Also participating were FEM representatives, including members of the CEN technical committee CEN/TC 147/WG 11.

Overload tests increase fatigue on the crane and reduce its life expectancy. The case presented is that a periodic overload test does not prove anything and is a redundant legacy activity. The crane manufacturers in FEM perform an overload test on new cranes prior to delivery to the customer. It is a mystery to crane owners why they then have to do another overload test when they take delivery of the new crane. In many countries a similar overload test then has to be repeated annually or even more often.

ESTA surveyed its European member associations in 2010 to reveal that all 11 participating countries had a different way of conducting the mobile crane overload tests. Manufacturers are working together on the common set of recommendations that will not include periodic overload testing.

Objectives of the FEM Cranes and Lifting Equipment product group are as follows:

* To provide a European forum to elaborate on technical and economical matters in collaboration with other organisations worldwide serving the same goal.

* Representation of special members' interests.

* Development of technical documents and guidelines on a European level, for example, FEM documents and position papers to promote technologies and expertise.

* Development of statistics.

* Provision of information on the activities of the European Union and international bodies of direct relevance to the operations of re-engineering to its members.

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