Tips, Tricks and Traps of Crane Contracts


I’ve had everything from hundred page specs (you guessed it, US Gov’t specs)  for a $5K jib crane to single page page specs for a million dollar system. One thing  I’ve learned is that there is no relationship between the number of words and the quality of the specification. 

Having been around long enough to have seen both the “pre-word processing” era and “post-word processing” era, buying documents have not got any better, just considerably fatter.


There are a lot of crane buyers that don’t need this hours and hours of information included in this article. Fact of the mater is, if they’re buying an average system, that is average duty cycle, average project size, average environment, average lift height, average production through-put, this article is probably overkill. 


If your planning a purchase that includes one or more of the following characteristics, skip this article at your own peril.

  1. Multiple cranes, big dollar deal
  2. High duty cycle crane applications
  3. High speed crane applications
  4. Long lift crane applications
  5. High production through-put applications
  6. Mission critical applications
  7. Explosive atmosphere
  8. Abrasive atmosphere
  9. Hot metal handling
  10. Nuclear anything
  11. Extremely hot or cold environment
  12. Critical timeline delivery requirements
  13. Precise spotting control
  14. Automated controls
  15. New cranes on existing runways or runways not supplied by the crane builder
  16. High (crane/hoist) motor starts per hour
  17. Low (crane/hoist) motor idle time per hour
  18. High average percentage of capacity load per lift
  19. Magnet applications
  20. Coil handling applications
  21. New building construction project
  22. Applications requiring true vertical lift
  23. Applications that require full capacity lift 100% of the time
  24. Precision spotting lifts that require Inverter controls
  25. Applications with dirty power sources and/or voltage swings
  26. Plus any other out of the ordinary application

I don’t mean to imply that Cranes are rocket science. They’re not, but conversely many buyers think all they need to tell a crane vendor is that they need five ton capacity and to “fit it in there,” and they’re done. That attitude may work on the very simplest applications, but for most it’s a formula for disaster.

For the next four articles, we will divide the crane buying process into four parts.
1. Buyers RFQ
2. Sellers Proposal
3. Contract/PO
4. Misc Items