How would you react if…
… you got a call from your car dealer service manager a week after having some repairs done just to make sure everything is okay? You got a call from your doctor the evening after treatment just to check up on you. You got a questionnaire in the mail from a restaurant you dined at soliciting your comments and suggestions.
Some business people tell me that’s looking for trouble. I disagree. I think it’s looking for rapport, loyalty, satisfaction and repeat business. If follow-up turns up a lot of dissatisfaction, you need to make some changes. The dissatisfaction is there whether you discover it or not.
How would you react if you got a thank you note a few days after buying a new suit from a clothing store, you got a birthday card from your insurance agent, you got a free dinner gift certificate as a thank you from a hotel chain, you got a personalized luggage tag in the mail as a gift from your travel agent?
Recognition and appreciation can be very powerful and very inexpensive as a marketing strategy. It is true that comprehensive follow-up and follow-through may reveal some inadequacies in your business operation and that’s good if you use those discoveries as impetus for improvement.
Of course every business, no matter how well managed, will have to deal with dissatisfied even angry customers from time to time. Sometimes the customer is justified in his complaints other times he is not, but the handling of the dissatisfied customer can have far reaching impact on a business.
Thank you for reading,
Gerry L. Wiebe-CSPC
Vice President of Sales & Business Development
Eagle West Equipment Inc. (acquired by Bigfoot Crane Company)
Written by: Robert Ingraham, Former HSE Director Eagle West Cranes Inc. (acquired by Bigfoot Crane Company)
Human error is the most common cause of crane accidents. This extends to both crane operators and those workers responsible for maintenance and safety procedures. Accidents often occur when crane maintenance and operating procedures don’t keep up with the increasing risks and demands placed on the crane. Many accidents result from a breakdown in communication between the project manager, site supervisor, the operator and the workers on the ground. Accidents also occur when workers fail to follow safe work practices and procedures.
While a crane may appear to be a simple device, its operation involves complex physics. You don’t need to be an engineer to operate cranes safely, but everyone involved with their operation should be aware of and follow some basic steps for safe operation. Here are the steps I recommend:
1. Complete an Inspection. Verifying that the crane has received its annual inspection is only the first required step. It’s critical to check the operating functions daily to ensure all components are working properly. Experienced and inexperienced operators are often surprised to discover they may have inadvertently pushed the crane beyond its limits and damaged key components of the crane that could lead to failure.
2. Always complete a Field Level Hazard Assessment. A Field Level Hazard Assessment is the process where you:
3. Complete a plan. Each lift is different from another, and it’s important to review all hazards, the load weight capacities, integrity of the equipment, the possible effect of wind, and other factors. The operator, riggers, and other workers involved with the lift must be part of that planning process.
4. Communicate the Plan. The purpose of a ‘Tool Box’ or ‘Tailgate’ meeting is to:
5. Follow the Plan. Far too often accidents occur when the agreed upon plan is not followed or enforced.
6. Know your Ground Conditions. The most powerful, carefully rigged crane is only as strong and stable as the surface upon which it stands. You need to know the classification for the soil or other material under the crane, and adjust your setup and load limits accordingly. While many cranes are equipped with outriggers, extending them doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve provided a stable surface. It’s important to know the load weight and how that is affected by the conditions of your jobsite. The crane’s load chart can help you determine whether your lift will be safe.
7. Know your Radius. The counterweight and boom travel within a specific arc is called the swing radius. It’s important to ensure that the area within that radius is barricaded off. It is critically important to establish a control zone for those authorized to work in the immediate area. Constantly check the area throughout the day to ensure that there are no objects the boom might strike. If obstacles are introduced, be sure that the operator and other workers are aware of the obstacle and the plan for avoiding it.
8. Use your crane properly. Cranes are engineered for vertical lifting. That doesn’t stop some crews from trying to use them for side loading or other improper activities. Using a crane to drag something across the ground or from under an obstacle puts extreme stress on the boom, the turntable, and all the structural members. It could potentially weaken key components and lead to their failure.
9. Communication. Whether you use radios, air horns, hand signals, or some other method, there needs to be clear communication between the operator and the other workers. That’s especially critical when a crane is making a lift in which the operator cannot see the load. Don’t assume that everyone knows how instructions will be communicated. Make sure everyone understands the system and follows it. (See Communicate the Plan)
10. Stay Focused. Everyone associated with a crane needs to stay alert and focused on the job at hand, especially on critical or difficult lifts. The lack of focus is a common cause of work related accidents, incidents and serious near-miss events.
‘Saint Louis is a rough terrain and standard hydro crane community. I think that’s about to change,’ stated Mike Brys, Site Superintendant for the Paric Corporation, after working with two San Marco SMT Tower Cranes rented from Custom Service Crane Inc for a major project. The Aberdeen Heights project in Kirkwood, Missouri, is where over 600, 000 total square feet of senior housing construction including four to five storey wall panel construction and trussed roof with center courtyards has been built.
The project required two tower cranes, specifically, a San Marco SMT 551 on a mobile base with 105 foot under hook and 180 foot jib as well as a San Marco SMT 522 on a mobile base with 118 foot under hook height and 170 foot jib. They were the only two cranes used to service Building B for the project.
Directly adjacent to their site, another framing contractor was working on Building A, a very
similar four storey structure. The obvious difference was that they were using four mobile cranes to service the project. ‘Progress on the building using the two tower cranes is substantially further along’ commented Randy Huffman, Custom Service Crane, Inc. owner. These projects presented an opportunity to illustrate the comparison of the use of ‘state of the art’ tower cranes on a mobile base to more traditional mobile cranes.
Even though the two projects started within weeks of each other, framing Building B, using the tower cranes completed faster. Jeremy Pokorny with Con Tech Carpentry said, ‘Both buildings were on similar schedules but we’ve completed and they haven’t. There’s no comparison for tower cranes versus mobile cranes, the tower cranes could reach everywhere, and the mobile cranes can’t’. Mike Brys from Paric Corportation commented further by saying ‘The other contractors definitely had to work harder on their project using the mobile cranes and since they are still in production paying higher costs’.
Jeremy commented ‘The decision to go with the San Marco’s came with a big pay day. Everything ran smoothly. We could reach everything we needed to reach, we didn’t need to move materials for the crane to get access, didn’t need an extra laborer for signaling the crane, if we had to do it over again, we’d do it the same way, no doubt’.
Through the SMT’s efficient technology and simple operation, the two tower cranes were able to access materials and every part of the large construction site without delay and without site roads. The San Marco tower cranes created direct cost reductions because there is no need for off road forklifts, rough terrain or mobile cranes, or other forms of rented onsite hoisting equipment.
Bottom line; A contractor can rent a tower crane for the same or less cost as other temporary crane services while cutting other major costs. Mike Brys recommended, ‘I would definitely encourage Con Tech Carpentry to keep using the San Marco SMT Tower Cranes for future projects because of their simplicity to set up and use and their reduced need for a staging area.’
Custom Service Crane is the exclusive Bigfoot Crane dealer for Illinois with service into Indiana, Missouri and Michigan.
By Samantha Gunson
Eagle West Cranes, Inc (acquired by Bigfoot Crane Company)