Deck lifting equipment such as gantry cranes, general cargo crane, provision crane, derrick etc. help in carrying heavy loads/cargo on board ships. As these deck machinery systems are subjected to continuous loading, their parts wear down at a faster rate, thus requiring maintenance at regular intervals of time. Inability to do so can lead to system failure, unfortunate accidents, and loss of lives and property.
Mentioned below are ten important checks to be made while operating deck lifting equipment.
1. Keep the Load Below Safe Working Load Value (SWL): Ensure to operate all the lifting equipment below their Safe Working Load Value (SWL) marked on the lifting equipment body. The only time the SWL of any lifting equipment is allowed to be crossed the limit is during load testing.
2. Appropriate Certificates: All lifting appliances on ships must have valid certificates which are certified by a competent shore body. These certificates ensure that the lifting equipment are in the right condition to carry heavy loads.
3. Only the Right Person Should Operate the Equipment: Only the most responsible personnel onboard having the right knowledge and skills should operate the lifting equipment. Also, enough number of crew must be provided for assisting the lifting operation.
4. Know the Equipment: The operator must know the switches and automation involved in lifting equipment along with the radius and height covered by the swinging arm and boom. He/she must also know the maximum amount of load the equipment is allowed to carry.
5. Efficient Lubrication: Ensure that all the required parts of the lifting equipment are well lubricated and hydraulic oil is at the minimum marked level. Periodic maintenance of such machinery is extremely important for efficient lubrication and running of moving parts.
6. Check the Wires: The wire of the lifting appliances must be checked and renewed at required intervals of time. Wire deformation, corrosion, stranding etc. must be checked and if the defects require repair, the wires must be renewed before using the lifting gear.
7. Use the Securing Clamp: Ensure that the securing clamp is fitted in the hook whenever a load is lifted in order to avoid slippage. Also, check that it is not in defective condition and is also provided with a spring loaded system, which will not open even when the load exerts pressure on the hook.
8. Check the Weight of the Load: It is the duty of the ship operator to check and confirm the load of the object to be lifted. It’s a general practice to self-estimate the load of an object with only visual check. The item or load to be lifted must have a specification list, and the same should be checked for the weight to avoid accidents such as bending of boom or dropping of load if the the object is heavier then SWL.
9. Check the Anticipated Path: Check the anticipated area or path of the load when shifting the load by the crane for any hinderance or obstruction. The planned path of cargo movement must be cleared before the load is hooked to the crane.
10. Check for Cracks in the Base: The load bear by the lifting equipment is transferred to the ships structure via foundation. Check the base/ foundation of the lifting equipment for any kind of cracks or deformation to avoid material failure.
11. Check Proper Lighting: Ensure that the crane area, including the load shifting path is well lit. Moreover, the rays from any of the light fittings in the vicinity should not impair the vision of crane operator or the signal man during the lifting operation.
12. Ship’s Load Distribution/Load plan: When ship’s crane is used for cargo loading and unloading, the chief officer must prepare a loading/unloading plan which will ensure that the ship will not tilt on the same side of the crane when a load is lifted from the area. The operator must also strictly follow the loading plan.
These are some of the important points that are to be followed while operating lifting equipment on ships. Do you know any other important points? Let us know in the comments below.