Crane Institute of America


Crane Institute Donates Mobile Crane Simulator to Alabama Workforce Training Center

Posted on September 22, 2014 • Comments Off on Crane Institute Donates Mobile Crane Simulator to Alabama Workforce Training Center

New Vortex Simulator installed at Crane Institute Headquarters

Sept. 22, 2014 (Sanford, Fla.)AIDT, the workforce development division of the Alabama Department of Commerce, is the recipient of a mobile crane simulator donated by Crane Institute of America. Crane Institute has used the simulator for crane operator training activities for nearly 15 years.

The simulator from Crane Institute of America will be used at AIDT’s newest training center, the Alabama Workforce Training Center located in Birmingham. This training center is the fruition of the collaborative efforts of the Birmingham Business Association, the Alabama Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, the State Department of Education, and Alabama Community College System.

“AIDT offers first-class training. They are very conscientious and put on a good program for skills development,” said Jim Headley, President and CEO of Crane Institute of America. “The simulator will find a good home with AIDT.”

As Alabama’s workforce development agency, AIDT’s mission is to provide workforce training services for new and expanding industries. They operate several industry focused training centers around the state to include Maritime, Robotics and Aviation sectors.  The Birmingham center will focus on construction and manufacturing.

The simulator features a full size Manitowoc 2250 crane cab and is equipped with a fully functioning load moment indicator system. According to Headley, one of the unique features of the simulator is the ability to switch between hand controls or foot brakes for stopping the load. Foot brakes are often used in applications like pile driving or dragline work.

“We’ve used simulators previously to teach other skills, such as robotics or welding,” said Rick Maroney, AIDT Manager of Robotics Technology and Safety. “This simulator will be used for introducing mobile crane operator skills and reinforcing mobile crane safety,” he said. Maroney is one of two instructors that are certified through Crane Institute of America to teach mobile crane operators. Other AIDT instructors, also certified by Crane Institute, will teach overhead crane and forklift operator safety at the Birmingham Workforce Training Center. “We appreciate having Crane Institute as an industry partner,” said Maroney.

See the video of AIDT taking delivery of the simulator donated by Crane Institute of America.

Vortex Crane Simulator at Crane Institute of America Headquarters

Crane Institute of America instructors use a Vortex simulator as a med-point learning tool for students who have completed classroom instruction before progressing to working on a crane.

Vortex Simulator Brings Latest Technology to Crane Institute Students

Crane Institute replaced the 15-year-old simulator it donated to AIDT with a Vortex model from CM Labs Simulations. Crane Institute uses the Vortex simulator as a mid-point learning tool for students who have completed classroom instruction but who have not yet progressed to working with a crane.

“Crane simulators provide an excellent training tool without the fear of an accident,” said Headley. “The graphics on this particular Vortex simulator are fantastic. The realism of the scenarios and visuals is second only to the real thing,” said Headley.

Unlike gaming style simulators, Vortex simulates multi-body dynamics and has been validated against empirical and engineering data in order to provide accurate qualification of an operator’s skills.

Crane Institute has a long history of pairing assessment with training to qualify students, even before third-party certification was called for by government entities. The Vortex simulator is capable of quantitative measurement of student performance for skills such as pendulum control, collision avoidance, overloads, or operating near power lines.

CM Labs is in the process of creating exercises that can be used to help prepare CIC certification candidates for the practical exam.

Another key feature is the ability to select four different types of cranes—lattice boom mobile crane, telescopic boom mobile crane, tower crane, and overhead crane—with a single simulator, increasing its flexibility for training purposes. “Controls are easily swapped out enabling us to switch from one crane type to another. This fits nicely with the courses Crane Institute offers for operators of mobile, tower, and overhead cranes,” said Headley.

About Crane Institute of America

For almost 30 years Crane Institute of America, Sanford, Fla., has offered training for operators, inspectors, safety managers, lift directors, and riggers and signalpersons working with mobile cranes, overhead cranes, tower cranes, aerial lift and forklifts. It is an authorized CIC written and practical exam testing site. For information, visit

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Tracy Bennett

Scaffolding Safety: Do you Properly Bridge the Gap?

Posted on September 12, 2014 • Comments Off on Scaffolding Safety: Do you Properly Bridge the Gap?

Wrong ScaffoldingEver take a short cut or use equipment improperly in order to get the job done faster?

In most cases, shortcuts are unsafe and not any more efficient. Shortcuts are more about not selecting the right equipment or improperly using the right equipment than they are about efficiency. Tools and equipment are designed for specific purpose, and equipment used for anything other than its intended purpose becomes dangerous.

Scissor lifts are intended to provide a safe platform for workers at a higher elevation. Standing on the mid-rail or the top rail, or working from a ladder stationed on a scaffolding platform is never safe.

A properly planned job will select a scissors lift with enough reach to do the job. Wood planked putlogs can safely be used to create a work platform deck for scaffolding, a walkway, or to bridge sections of scaffolding. Putlog end connections are curved to fit over the platform to secure it to a horizontal scaffolding tube, unlike the picture provided.

For more information on scaffolding and fall protection safety, check out our Scaffolding Safety Field Guide.

Load Testing on Barge Mounted Cranes

Posted on August 29, 2014 • Comments Off on Load Testing on Barge Mounted Cranes

Ship LTCranes are intended to be set-up on firm, level ground. The rules change when cranes are placed on a ship or barge. Cranes mounted on unstabilized, non-jacked ships can create a major problem.

As a barge mounted crane lifts a load, the barge will push down into the water creating list or trim, causing the crane to become unlevel. Special load charts are available that compensate for up to 5°. Additional ballasts or counterweight are required to level the barge so as not to exceed the 5° allowance.

While the heavy lift vessel, BBC Coral, was commissioning her cranes, something went wrong. The two cranes mounted on the deck were being load tested by lifting a ballast pontoon. The pontoon dropped, half on the deck and half on the dock, ripping one crane from its pedestal.

Learn more about the importance of proper load testing procedures in our Mobile Crane Inspector program.

Flat Top Luffing Tower Crane

Posted on August 20, 2014 • Comments Off on Flat Top Luffing Tower Crane

Luffer 2 Luffer 3This Flat Top Luffing Tower Crane can go from horizontal with a 55 meter radius to a minimum radius of three meters in only 90 seconds. The luffing speed is varied by the load sensing  hydraulic luffing cylinder.

This near vertical feature is particularly beneficial on crowded job sites. With the jib in this vertical position, the out-of-service radius is less than 10 meters.

It has 12 tonnes lift capacity when dual reeved at 55 meters, and 6 tonnes capacity at 55 meters when single reeved.

Read more about Wolffkran’s 166B on

See also, Tower Crane Collision.

Multi-Crane: Heavy Lift

Posted on August 13, 2014 • Comments Off on Multi-Crane: Heavy Lift

Lifting massive vessels weighing hundreds of tons is no easy job.

Oil refineries and chemical plants use large, high pressure vessels in their refining process. To upright these vessels requires two lifting devices: a lead, hoist, or head crane and crane or tailing crane.

Both the lead and tailing cranes should have enough capacity to be able to lift the entire vessel on its own. To do the job, both cranes can be mobile cranes, or the lead crane can be a gantry while the tailing crane can be a mobile crane or hydraulic gantry. The process of lifting such a large, awkward load, requires both cranes to lift the horizontal vessel off the ground. The tailing crane moves the load so the lead crane can lift it vertical.

Also see Creative Solution to a Difficult Job

Master Link or Hook: How Likely to Falter?

Posted on August 7, 2014 • Comments Off on Master Link or Hook: How Likely to Falter?

Killed – two workers in California when their personnel basket fell nearly 80 feet.

OSHA has strict requirements regarding hoisting personnel. If these requirements are followed, such accidents should cease to happen. The actual cause of this particular accident is still unknown to the public as the OSHA report will take time to surface. Early speculation is that the hook failed or the basket came off the hook.

Hooks used in personnel hoisting operations “must be capable of supporting, without failure, at least five times the maximum intended load applied” according to OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1431(g)(3). In simple terms the hook will withstand a 500% overload before it will fail at which point it will bend, not break. On a crane as large as the one used in the operation, the weight of the heaviest personnel basket and its contents should not come close to the yield point of the hook.

This begs the other question, how could the master link for the bridle supporting the basket come off the hook?

OSHA requires hooks used for hoisting personnel “must be of a type that can be closed and locked” (1926.1431(g)(1)(i)(A)). Closing the hook’s throat would prevent the basket from coming off the hook. Now let’s assume the hook was not equipped with a latch or the latch was defective.

  1. The weight of the basket should keep the master link in place in the bowl of the hook.
  2. For the basket to come off, an upward force would have to be placed on the master link. This could cause the master link to slip over the hook tip.
  3. An upward force could be generated by hitting an object with the personnel basket.

Purchase Mobile Cranes and Rigging handbook set by Jim Headely and read more about Hoisting Personnel.

Resources: San Francisco Chronicle, Cox Media Group.


Synthetic Slings – A Closer Look

Posted on August 1, 2014 • Comments Off on Synthetic Slings – A Closer Look

Sling FiberWhen synthetic round slings were introduced, the big concern was how to determine if fibers, hidden by the protective jacket, were broken.

At first, many companies and government agencies banned them because the fibers could not be inspected. However, the jacket around the sling has always been made to fit loose. When it became tight or load baring, most likely internal fibers had broken.

Because of the continued resistance of buyers, manufacturers began installing external indicators of fiber failure. One method uses a large fiber that sticks out through the jacket seam. When the fiber isn’t visible, it indicates that too many fibers have broken. Another method is to include a fiber optic thread among the fibers. If a light beam cannot be seen through the fiber, it indicates that the fiber optic cord as well as other fibers have broken.

Our Rigging Equipment Inspector training program includes inspection of synthetic rope slings.

For more information on inspecting synthetic slings, check out SLINGMAX Rigging Solutions.

Planes, Trains, and Cranes

Posted on July 24, 2014 • Comments Off on Planes, Trains, and Cranes

Pair of CatsMTplane recoveryAirplanes02Beached whales in Montana?

These three aircraft fuselages look more like beached whales than sleek Boeing 737’s after their train derailed causing them to slide down an embankment into a river.

The good news is the railroads have some of the biggest hauling equipment and cranes around. This equipment is used to lift and move heavy materials all the time. Even better news is that the fuselages are still attached to their railroad cars and the cars are right side up.

To the average railroader, pulling 70 tons of railroad cars and airplane fuselages up a river bank to the rails is just another wreck clearance job. Railroad wreck clearance crews know how to push, pull and lift heavy loads like locomotives.

For this job, they positioned 4 D8s or D9s side boom cranes at the top of the riverbank near the rails to serve as anchors for their rear-mounted winches. With this 160-200 ton anchor in place, they attached their winch wire rope to the railroad car and pulled the car and cargo to the top.

Side boom cranes or tractors have a boom mounted on the side of a tracked or wheeled vehicle made by Caterpillar, Case and Kamatsu. They can be used in many crane applications but they are about the only crane that can be used, in gangs, to lay large diameter continuously welded pipe. They can be equipped with a rear mounted winch which can pull with tremendous hydraulic force while being anchored in place by 40-50 ton tractors.

Railroad cranes are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration and not by OSHA; however the highest regulatory standards should always be followed.

Railroad cranes are special purpose cranes but CIA offers a variety of training programs.

Aerial Lifts, Bicycles, and Skateboards on Sidewalks – NO!

Posted on July 22, 2014 • Comments Off on Aerial Lifts, Bicycles, and Skateboards on Sidewalks – NO!

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Sidewalks are built for pedestrian traffic, not to support the weight of an aerial lift. The wheels of this aerial lift exert hundreds of pounds per square inch of weight on the ground beneath it.

This operator chose to operate the aerial lift on a sidewalk which also contains service covers. Obviously, these service covers are rated less than the sidewalk. The operator drove over the sidewalk cover causing it to crumble and ultimately triggering the toppling of this aerial lift.

The condition of the occupants of this aerial lift is unknown; however, the most common cause of fatalities in aerial lift accidents is turnover.

Click here for information about our Aerial Lift Operator class.

OSHA: NEW Interactive Training Webtool

Posted on July 18, 2014 • Comments Off on OSHA: NEW Interactive Training Webtool

OSHA announces the release of a new training tool to help identify workplace hazards for small businesses.


This virtual environment covers both manufacturing and construction industries and allows the user to play the role of business owner or employee. The tool was created to not only teach users how to identify hazards by also hazard abatement and control.

“Hazard identification is a critical part of creating an injury and illness prevention program that will keep workers safe and health on the job,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on the job. ” This new tool not only educates employers about how to take control of their workplace and protect workers, it also demonstrates that following well-established safety practices is also good for the bottom lime.”

Read OSHA’s Trade News Release.