Shannahan Crane & Hoist

The Most Common Crane Parts Failures and How to Prevent Them

Projections show that the global crane market will reach a size of $49.64 billion by 2028.

Various types of cranes are available and they’re used in a range of industries. As with any mechanical equipment, crane parts can fail. It’s important to understand what parts can fail and why so that you can take measures to keep things safe and operational.

For a rundown of some of the most common crane part failures, keep reading.

Electrical Faults

All cranes have electrical components to help them perform various operations. Electrical component failures are among the most common issues that all types of cranes experience. Electrical failures may not be obvious, so you need to ensure all parts are regularly inspected and maintained.


Sometimes the motor may not start when instructed to, or conversely, it may not stop when instructed to. This can happen when there are issues with welded contacts sticking. Regular inspections will help you spot this, and you can clean the contacts to prevent it from happening.

Electronic Component Failures

Electrical components will wear down with use just like any other parts. This is unavoidable, so it’s important to regularly perform checks of all parts to assess their condition.

When you notice any parts that are particularly worn you should have them replaced. You want to do this before they reach the point of failure to avoid any downtime.

Misuse of Equipment

Any crane operators should be fully trained to ensure they operate cranes safely and properly. This is just as true for small workstation cranes as it is for much larger bridge cranes. Improper operation can cause damage to crane parts and other property, and also presents a health and safety risk.

Loads should always be lifted vertically. This will reduce wear on the ropes and prevent swinging. Operators should also avoid turning long objects with the pendant cable as this can put extra strain on the entire crane.

When using mobile cranes, operators need to plan out their routes properly. This will stop them from crashing into any other equipment or workers.

Load weights must never be exceeded. These are in place for a reason, and going over them could damage a crane or even cause it to tip over.

Operators should only ever lift loads steadily and slowly. Shock loads can cause excessive amounts of tension which can again damage a crane and potentially cause it to tip.

Make sure your workers are always operating safely and adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Worn Components

Even if a crane is only ever used correctly, parts will inevitably wear down. This tends to be more true of moving parts but also occurs with electronics.


Gearboxes are essential for proper operation, and replacing them can be time-consuming. Check these regularly so that you don’t end up experiencing unexpected downtime. Bear in mind that an oil leak can also cause a gearbox to fail.


Brakes will always wear down with use. The manufacturer may provide guidelines on how often they should be replaced, but this can vary depending on how much use a crane gets. Regular inspections will allow you to keep an eye on the state of the brakes on a crane.

Gearing and Bearings

To keep these running smoothly they need regular lubrication. You can use grease for rollers, plain bearings, and wire ropes. Oil is more suitable for ball bearings and roller bearings.

A lack of lubrication can cause these parts to fail quickly. Make sure they’re always sufficiently lubricated.

Hoist Ropes, Chains, and Chain Hoists

These ropes and chains also need to be lubricated to prevent rapid wear. Without enough lubrication, just weeks of use can cause these to fail. Hoist ropes may also start to rust, which can cause them to splinter and break.

The manufacturer’s instructions will tell you how often you should be inspecting these parts to make sure they’re well lubricated. If a crane gets a lot of use, you might want to inspect it more often.

Maintaining ropes and chains properly will help prevent downtime, save money, and maintain health and safety.

Several other factors can affect the lifespan of chains and ropes, such as:

  • Excessive loading
  • Quick loading (shock loads)
  • Sling design
  • Abrasion
  • Corrosion

You also need to consider the environment that a crane is operating. Excessive heat and chemical exposure can cause damage. If possible, you should avoid using a crane in such environments, but if you can’t avoid it then you should inspect the crane parts more often as they’re likely to wear down quicker.

Crane Skew and Alignment Issues

If an overhead crane isn’t properly aligned it can create excess stress on the whole crane system. This can lead to damage to the runway beams, tie-backs, building support structures, and more. It will also wear various parts faster than normal.

Regular inspections can determine any alignment issues. If any are found, they can then be remedied to prevent further issues.

Keeping Crane Parts in Good Condition

One of the best ways to ensure all crane parts are kept in a good state is through regular inspections and maintenance. This will highlight if there are any issues, and you can deal with them before they develop into much larger problems.

Shannahan Crane and Hoist provides a range of services such as safety inspections, equipment upgrades, and certified load testing. We can work with jib cranes, gantry cranes, bridge cranes, and more. To find out more about how we can help your business, click here to contact us today.

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