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How To Operate Overhead Crane?

An overhead crane, also known as a bridge crane, operates by moving along a runway system installed overhead. It typically consists of several major components shown as below:

  • Bridge: The bridge is the horizontal beam that spans the width of the area to be covered. It contains the hoist and trolley mechanism and moves along the length of the runway rails.
  • Runway Rails: These are parallel rails installed overhead on which the bridge travels. They provide support and guidance for the movement of the crane.
  • Hoist: The hoist is the lifting mechanism mounted on the bridge. It consists of a motorized drum or winch that winds up or releases the lifting cable or chain, allowing it to raise or lower the load.
  • Trolley: The trolley is a movable carriage that travels along the length of the bridge beam. It carries the hoist and allows it to move horizontally, positioning the load precisely.
main beam
main beam
end beam
end beam
lifting trolley
lifting trolley
European standard trolley
European standard trolley
crane structure
overhead crane structure

Overhead Crane Operation

Operating an overhead crane requires careful attention to safety procedures and proper training. Here’s a general guide on how to operate an overhead crane:

Pre-Operation Checks

  • Before operating the overhead crane, perform a visual inspection to ensure that the crane is in good working condition. Check for any signs of damage or wear on the crane structure, hoist, trolley, cables, and hooks.
  • Ensure that all safety devices, such as limit switches, emergency stops, and overload protection, are functional.
  • Verify that the area around the crane is clear of obstacles and personnel.
  • Make sure the load to be lifted is properly secured and within the crane’s rated capacity.


  • Position the crane directly above the load to be lifted.
  • Ensure that the crane hook is directly over the center of gravity of the load.
overhead crane for manufacturing and processing industry
overhead crane for manufacturing and processing industry

Operating the Controls

  • Familiarize yourself with the crane’s control panel, which typically includes buttons or levers for hoisting, lowering, trolley movement, and crane movement.
  • Use the controls to operate the crane in a smooth and controlled manner.
  • Always use gradual movements to prevent sudden swings or jerks.

Lifting the Load

  • Engage the hoist to lift the load slowly and steadily.
  • Monitor the load as it is lifted to ensure it remains stable and does not swing excessively.
  • Avoid lifting the load too quickly or exceeding the crane’s rated capacity.

Moving the Load

  • Use the trolley controls to move the load horizontally to the desired location.
  • Make sure to position the load precisely and avoid collisions with obstacles or other equipment.

Lowering the Load

  • Lower the load slowly and carefully, using the hoist controls.
  • Ensure that the load is lowered to the ground or onto its destination safely.
  • Avoid dropping the load or allowing it to swing during lowering.
double beam overhead crane used in power station
double beam overhead crane lifting heavy materials

Shutdown Procedure

  • After completing the lift, return the crane to its starting position.
  • Lower the hook to a safe height and engage any locking mechanisms.
  • Shut down the crane controls and secure the crane against unauthorized use.

Post-Operation Checks

  • Inspect the crane and its components for any signs of damage or issues that may have occurred during operation.
  • Report any problems and ensure that necessary repairs or maintenance are carried out before the crane is used again.

Safety Precautions

  • Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as helmets and gloves, while operating the crane.
  • Follow all safety regulations and procedures provided by your employer or regulatory authorities.
  • Never exceed the crane’s rated capacity or attempt to lift loads that are too heavy or awkwardly shaped.
  • By following these steps and prioritizing safety, you can effectively and safely operate an overhead crane to lift and move loads in various industrial settings.

Protection Devices for Overhead Cranes to Guarantee Safe Operation

Overhead cranes are equipped with various protection devices to ensure safe operation and prevent accidents. These devices help to protect both personnel and equipment. Here just list some safety devices for your reference.

  • Overload Protection: Overload protection systems prevent the crane from lifting loads that exceed its rated capacity. This is typically achieved through load sensors or load cells that monitor the weight of the load being lifted. If the load exceeds the preset limit, the system will prevent further lifting or provide a warning to the operator.
  • Limit Switches: Limit switches are used to define the maximum and minimum travel limits of the crane’s movements. They are installed at various points along the crane’s travel path, such as at the ends of the runway or on the trolley. When the crane reaches these limits, the limit switches will automatically stop the motion of the crane to prevent collisions or overtravel.
  • Emergency Stop Button: An emergency stop button allows the operator to quickly stop all crane movements in case of an emergency. When pressed, the emergency stop button will immediately cut off power to the crane’s motors, bringing it to a safe stop. Emergency stop buttons should be easily accessible and clearly labeled.
  • Anti-Collision Systems: Anti-collision systems are used to prevent collisions between multiple cranes operating in the same area or between the crane and other equipment or structures. These systems use sensors or cameras to detect potential collisions and automatically stop or adjust the crane’s movements to avoid accidents.
  • Warning Lights and Alarms: Warning lights and alarms provide visual and auditory warnings to alert personnel in the vicinity of the crane to potential hazards. These may include flashing lights, sirens, or audible alarms that activate when the crane is in operation or when specific conditions are detected, such as an overload or approaching a limit switch.
  • Wire Rope Monitoring: Wire rope monitoring systems monitor the condition of the crane’s lifting cables or ropes to detect signs of wear, fatigue, or damage. These systems may use sensors to measure tension, elongation, or other indicators of rope health and provide warnings or shut down the crane if abnormalities are detected.
  • Fall Arrest Systems: Fall arrest systems are used to protect personnel working at heights on or near the crane. These systems typically include harnesses, lanyards, and anchor points that prevent workers from falling in the event of a slip or other mishap.

The specific devices used will depend on factors such as the type of crane, its intended use, and local safety regulations. Regular maintenance and inspection of these devices are essential to ensure they remain functional and effective in preventing accidents.

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