Cranes are a staple fixture across modern construction projects, and for many who find themselves utilizing them often on-site, this raises the question of rental or ownership.
What You Need to Consider Before Buying a Used Crane
Cranes are complicated, highly technical pieces of construction machinery that require proper maintenance, site preparation, and training to operate safely. They are a significant investment for any business. One way to seemingly reduce some of that cost is to opt for purchasing a used crane instead of a new one.
Buying a used crane involves a certain level of risk. But careful evaluation, inspection, and consideration will help minimize the risks and increase the likelihood of finding a reliable and suitable crane for your needs. Here are the primary considerations to look at while deciding to buy a used crane.
What You Need the Crane For
Determine the specific purpose for which you need the crane and identify your requirements. Consider factors like lifting capacity, reach, boom length, mobility, and any special features necessary for your projects.
As obvious as it may seem, the heavier and more significant the size of materials you need to move and the farther you need to move them, the larger the crane you will need, and the higher the costs will be. Here is a broad look at the two main crane types you will find on the used market and their most common applications.
- Mobile Cranes: These are the most common cranes used for everything from road construction to building projects. Mobile cranes are often the most versatile, as they can be used on a wide variety of job sites and can traverse challenging terrain.
- Boom Attached: While still a form of mobile crane, these have a platform or man basket connected directly to the boom or lift arm, and specialize in moving people. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations you may be familiar with, such as bucket trucks, cherry pickers, and scissor lifts.
Used Crane History and Maintenance
Just like if you were buying a car, house, or other significant investment, you want a clear record of the history and maintenance of any crane you are considering buying. Request comprehensive inspection and maintenance records, including service history, repairs, and usage stats. This information will give you an idea of the crane's condition and reliability.
Some general areas to focus on when reviewing records or inspecting the crane yourself are:
- Visual Condition: While there is no substitute for good records or an expert inspection, even a brief visual inspection can give you a good idea of the care taken in the upkeep of the crane.
- Age and Model: Newer models generally come with improved features and technologies, but older models might be more budget-friendly. Research the reputation of the manufacturer and the model's reliability to make an informed decision.
- Operating History: Inquire about the number of operating hours the crane has accumulated and the general weight of lifts performed. High operating hours or lifts pushing the crane's capacity may indicate increased wear and tear.
Always make sure to have an expert technician do a complete inspection before you finalize the purchase. They can provide a detailed assessment of the crane's condition, identify potential issues, and estimate any future maintenance or repair costs.
Do You Have Personnel Support?
When it comes to cranes, it is just as essential to have the right people operating the machinery as it is to have the right crane for the job. Cranes remain the most costly and deadly hazards on any construction site.
If you are looking to replace or upgrade an existing crane, you hopefully have qualified personnel on your team for safe operation. But if you are considering adding a crane to your arsenal of tools, you will need more than just an operating manual.
Crane operation doesn’t just require licensed operators, but also a team of support personnel. When you own a crane, you need to have qualified personnel covering the following roles:
Price and Your Budgetary Constraints
Compare prices of similar cranes in the market to determine if the seller's asking price is reasonable. If a deal seems too good to be true, it may be a sign to dig a little deeper.
You need to consider not only the upfront cost of the crane, but the ongoing ones as well. When you own a crane, you become responsible for all the maintenance, transport costs, personnel training, and liability involved with operation.
Be sure to inquire about the availability of spare parts, technical support, and after-sales services for the crane. It's important to ensure that you can obtain the necessary parts and assistance if any issues arise in the future.
Crane Rental With Experts May Be Your Best Choice
Crane ownership is a big task. If you have gone through the considerations above and are unsure of your company's ability to manage a crane full-time, but still need one on a project, crane rental may be the right step for you. You can’t hammer a nail in with a screwdriver. Not very well, anyway.
Parker's Crane provides quality crane rental, rigging, and heavy hauling services throughout the Carolinas and the East Coast. Contact us if you would like to discuss your needs and whether or not our services and equipment will work for your construction project. We provide free on-site quotes and evaluations.
We pride ourselves on safety and our Zero Accident Philosophy and conduct many detailed safety measures when performing a job to ensure that no project carries unnecessary risk. We perform the following for every single job we take:
- Pre-Lift Job Assessments
- Daily Risk Assessments
- On-Site Hazard Analysis
- Routine Management Audits
Even with a simple job, the right tool makes an enormous difference. Similarly, the right equipment, backed with experience and support, can make your job worlds easier (and safer).