8 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Renting A Crane

questions to ask yourself when renting a crane blog

Are you getting ready to start a commercial construction project? You are likely going to need a crane to do the heavy lifting. If buying a crane isn’t in the budget, renting a crane for your project might be a more cost-effective option. You will want to contact a reputable crane rental company to discuss your needs, but you might not know what to expect or how to prepare. Before making the call, ask yourself these eight essential questions to ensure you’re making the best use of your time. Being armed with vital information will help the crane rental company advise you on what crane will best suit your project.

renting a crane

1. What do I want to lift?

The most fundamental question that must be answered when you consider renting a crane is: What is the weight of the load or loads you need to lift? After all, that is the reason you are considering using a crane. It is vital to know the weights of your heaviest items. Knowing the weight of the lift seems obvious, but there might be more to it than is initially apparent. It is crucial to have a good understanding of the actual weights of your loads because the size of your loads will ultimately determine the size of the crane needed to lift them. Safety and efficiency both dictate that the value of the load be known to a reasonable level of accuracy. 

The best place to get the value for the weight of your load is generally the fabricators’ or manufacturers’ drawings. They almost always have a specified value for “shipping weight” or “empty weight.” In determining the weight from the drawings is not possible, then the load must be weighted or calculated. Someone with sufficient knowledge of the item must perform this critical function. 

In any event, you must know the weight of your load. Don’t ever guess. And don’t arbitrarily add weight to the value of your load. You may think that is being conservative, but it actually induces an error that may come back and bite you later. Adding on to your load is best done explicitly and with the crane company’s input by adding a “contingency” load of some appropriate value. 

You must always know the weight of your load. Guessing or estimating is not acceptable.
You must always know the weight of your load. Guessing or estimating is not acceptable.

As conditions change and the project evolves, you can increase or decrease the value of this contingency, and you still know where you are.

The dimensions of the load may also be a concern. Large items might pose transportation issues. Also, the location of the center of gravity will need to be known. The fabricators’ drawings should be consulted. If the center of gravity location is not given for your load, it should be calculated.

A full-service crane rental company like Maxim Crane can assist you with determining the weight of the object you need to lift when you’re renting a crane.

2. How will it make the lift(s)?

There are several types of lifts that are performed. The most basic is the pick-and-place, where the crane is attached to the load, lifts it, and then swings and lowers it into place. You must consider the means of connecting the crane to the load(s). 

Who is going to design the rigging? If you need help with rigging design, our engineers can design rigging systems that will get the job done. This service can vary from simple rigging arrangements to the design and fabrication of complex below-the-hook lifting devices. 

If you need help with rigging design, hire a crane rental company who has engineers that can help.
If you need help with rigging design, hire a crane rental company who has engineers that can help.

We will need to know how the fabricator has engineered your load to be lifted   They usually use pad eyes and often trunnions – if so, they will be indicated on the fabricator’s drawings.

Two cranes may be needed for lifting extremely heavy loads or when there is a need to rotate a load from the horizontal to the vertical, otherwise known as “lift-and-tail.” These tandem lifts are more complex and require a greater level of planning.

If you are constructing a tall building, a tower crane might be the right fit for your needs. Our crane rental specialists can help you specify the best tower crane size and type for your project.

Often a crane is required to lift a load and then travel with it, called “pick-and-carry.” Rough terrain cranes can generally pick lighter loads while the crane moves on its tires, while crawler cranes can carry heavier loads.

Another important consideration is the height required to lift the load. This measurement will largely influence the length of the boom and if there is a need for any jibs. If the load is tall and/or you are lifting it to a significant height, you must determine the available headroom for the rigging and the crane’s load bloc

3. How long will I need the crane?

Before you rent a crane, you must know the length of time you will require the use of the crane. The longer you are using the crane, the more it will cost. One crucial concern is the cost of mobilizing the crane (see more in #5 below). All-terrain cranes are designed to be driven on the highway and are more economical to mobilize than crawler cranes. The larger all-terrain cranes generally require a separate shipment of one or two truckloads of counterweights. Still, crawler cranes may need anywhere from just under a dozen to over several dozen truckloads to get the crane there. So, for a large crawler crane to be cost-effective, it generally must be of use on the site for some time. Bear in mind that all these parts must be assembled and then disassembled at your job site. It is seldom cost-effective to transport a large crawler crane to make a single lift.

Larger cranes are only cost-effective if they are in use for a long period of time, rather than for a single lift.
8 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Renting A Crane

4. Where will I put the crane on site?

The location is crucial in selecting the size crane that you will need. The crane’s location in relation to the required pick and place points will determine the radius of your pick(s). One would like to locate the crane to minimize the pick radius.  

The selection of a suitable location for the crane can be complicated by the existence of obstructions that may restrict the crane’s movement. You also don’t want to set up the crane near a slope where it can be unstable or next to a foundation where the ground load from the crane can overload the foundation. 

The location of your crane should be stable and should not restrict the movement of the crane.
The location of your crane should be stable and should not restrict the movement of the crane.

The ability of your site to support the load of the crane must be considered (see # 7, below).

5. How will the crane get there?

Now that you have determined the type and size of the crane you will use, and where you will be placing it, it is essential to consider the means of getting the crane there. It would be best to ensure easy access to the site. At Maxim Crane, we have a dedicated team of highly experienced dispatchers who will work to determine the most economical over-the-road route considering weight and height limitations.

Ensure that there is easy access to the job site before your crane arrives
Ensure that there is easy access to the job site before your crane arrives

6. Who will operate the crane?

At Maxim Crane, we can provide you with two options: There is the crane rental only option, which is called a “bare” rental”; or we can provide the crane and operator and support personnel (oiler, riggers, etc.) in what is called an “operated and maintained” (O&M) arrangement. Choosing an O&M rental uses our fully insured NCCCO licensed union crane operators, which are among the best in the business.

Evaluate your needs and choose between a bare rental or an O&M rental.
8 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Renting A Crane

If you decide to bare rent a crane, it would be your responsibility to ensure that the operator has the correct credentials and is familiar with operating the crane model and that the required insurance policies are in place.

7. How do I prepare my site for the crane?

OSHA requires the “controlling entity,” which is usually either you or your client, to provide the crane operator with a surface that is “firm, drained, and graded to a sufficient extent for adequate support and degree of level of the equipment.” 

Check to ensure your job site is compliant with OSHA standards.
Check to ensure your job site is compliant with OSHA standards.

It may be necessary to employ a geotechnical engineer to evaluate the site in critical applications after renting a crane. 

Our engineers will provide you with the ground-bearing pressures that our equipment will be exerting on your site. If these pressure levels need to be mitigated, our engineers can work with you to develop strategies to bring the values down to acceptable levels.

If the proposed location for the crane is on disturbed soil, the ground must be well compacted. Cranes should not be set up on disturbed or recently backfilled soil.

Occasionally, the desired location to set the crane is above some utilities, pipes, vaults, vessels, or other essential things that may have an effect on its ability to support the crane’s use at that location. You must be aware of these underground concerns to avoid damage to below surface concerns, as well as the crane.  Maxim’s engineers are highly experienced in dealing with these issues and are prepared to work with you to find a solution.

8. Are there any hazards that the crane operator needs to know about?

Additional considerations and risks may include overhead electric lines, buried utilities, or other structures. It is vitally important that you consider and inform the rental company of the existence of any potential hazards when considering the use of a crane on your site.

Evaluate your job site for potential hazards such as electrical lines or buried utilities.
Evaluate your job site for potential hazards such as electrical lines or buried utilities.

Now that you have the information you need before renting a crane, it’s time to contact a reputable crane rental company that can walk you through the process with ease. Maxim Crane Works has over 84 years of experience and over 3,500 of the most knowledgeable professionals in the industry that can help you along the way. With the largest modern fleet of mobile cranes for rent globally, we are sure to have the equipment you need for your construction project. Contact Maxim Crane today to discuss your needs with an experienced professional.

Disclaimer Statement:

We hope you found this article informative. Our content is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute advice or necessarily reflect the range of services Maxim Crane Works, LP provides. Readers should not act upon this information without first seeking assistance from a qualified industry professional. For crane recommendations for your specific project, consider speaking with one of our sales professionals. Although we attempt to ensure that postings on our blog are complete and accurate, we assume no responsibility for their completeness or accuracy.

Geoffrey Goldberg

Geoffrey Goldberg

Geoffrey H. Goldberg is a Senior Project Engineer at Maxim Crane Works where he is involved in the planning of often complex lifts and the design of specialized lifting devices. Prior to joining Maxim, Mr. Goldberg was a bridge engineer in the “City of Bridges”, Pittsburgh. He holds degrees in architectural history and Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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