Five things to know before you purchase a crane

Five Key Things to Know Before You Purchase a Crane

Purchasing a crane and ancillary heavy lifting equipment can be a minefield for the uninitiated. Here, we take you through everything you need to know when considering your first (or subsequent) crane purchase to ensure you’re not caught short.

Unlike your everyday car, van or truck, overhead cranes are complex pieces of equipment – each uniquely manufactured to fit the buyer’s requirements.

As well as your budget, here are five key things to know before you purchase a crane.

1. What will the crane primarily be used for?

Rail Mounted Gantry Crane

Rail Mounted Gantry Crane

You should approach the purchasing decision for your crane much in the same way you would think about buying a new family car. What will it be primarily used for? What are the mandatory requirements of the purchase? And what could perhaps be considered as optional extras?

Before you rush off to the dealer or private seller, it’s important to firstly clarify your objectives with regards to the crane and invest some time into researching exactly what you will need.

Things you need to consider include:

  • What kind of materials will you be moving or lifting most often?
  • Will you be lifting a small number of large loads or more frequent but smaller loads?
  • What is the maximum height you would be lifting? One or two storeys or something even higher?
  • How often will you be using the crane? And for how long?

It’s also important to think beyond your immediate need for the crane, in the instance that your requirements may change down the track. Even if it seems a long shot now, you don’t want to get to that point where you realise you’ve made a huge investment in a one trick pony.

2. Where will you be using the crane?

Consider the main area the crane will be working in. Will your work areas be wide open or more confined? Will you have the room to move in a 360 degree radius? Will you have to work mostly overhead or mostly in front of the body of the crane? Assessing your most typical work environment can help you understand which crane will suit your work, rather than possibly having to adjust your work to suit the crane after the fact.

It’s also important to consider the environmental conditions you’ll be working in. Eg. An area with an excessive amount of dirt, shavings or other particulates will have a greater negative impact on the efficiency of oil lubrication than grease lubrication.


3. Cranes are made up of a number of different components.

Crane Equipment

Crane Equipment

You may be shocked to find when you order the crane, you get just that – the crane. Your purchase will not necessarily include the rails, the monorail beams, the electrical power supply, the rising cable or even a set of engineering calculations.

Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge and understanding of what’s involved, companies can find themselves with a crane that either:

  • is not fit for purpose
  • is not compliant to the standards and/or
  • may not be legal for use.

The end result of one or more of these scenarios is likely to be lost time and earnings for the construction company or professional, or at the very least they’ll be faced with the risk of mechanical failure, damage or additional maintenance for the crane.

4. Go over the General Arrangement (GA) drawing of your crane with a fine tooth comb.

Reviewing the General Arrangement (GA) drawing of the crane is critical and shouldn’t be signed off flippantly. This is your chance to discover exactly what is and isn’t included with your purchase and make sure all your essential criteria are satisfied.

Some key questions to ask at this point include:

  • Does the crane comply with the right Australian Standards?
  • What are the servicing requirements and costs?
  • Are there any ongoing scheduled maintenance requirements?
  • How easy will it be to acquire parts if repairs are required?

If you’re not confident that all of your questions are answered satisfactorily at this point, it’s wise to refrain from signing the GA. Once you’ve signed it off, you will have little recourse if you discover you missed something later on.

5. Get wise on the safety requirements and legislation.

Under State legislation, there are specific items that are mandatory for operating a crane. There are also some parts of the Australian Standards mandating the safety devices and features you should have on your crane.

If the crane is over 10tonne capacity, it must be registered. This process requires engineering design drawings and calculations for the crane, the supporting structure and the building to be compiled, verified and submitted to State government departments. Be aware that this process can take up to 8 weeks and you will be unable to use the crane during this time.
If you are found to be using an unregistered crane you will face relevant prosecutions and penalties.

Of course, much the same as a car, you’ll need to make sure you obtain the appropriate licence for your crane. Depending on the scope of the work you’ll be doing, you may also require a High Risk Work (HRW) Licence.

So, as you can see, there’s a little more to think about before you get carried away and rush into a purchase you might regret.

Gantry and Bridge Cranes on site in a car repairs shop

Gantry and Bridge Cranes on site in a car repairs shop

Need expert help?

Asset Management Engineers are experienced in the specification, ordering and evaluation of cranes, ensuring that you get the right piece of equipment to suit your requirements.
Our experience could mean that you get the widest and best choice from what is available through competitive tenders or multiple quotes. We can expedite, review, survey and inspect, ensuring you receive exactly what you need from the supplier, the builder and the engineers.

Using AME to assist with your crane purchase will result in a simplified, timely and cost efficient experience, allowing you to put the crane into action sooner.

Contact our Lifting Equipment Engineer Scott Agnew on (08) 9466 7444 for more information on how we can assist with your next crane and heavy lifting purchase.