Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 23, 2009

Heidelberg, Germany A tower crane collapsed last night while out of service. Two buildings and a car were damaged in addition to the crane. Damages are estimated to be over 500,000 Euros. No persons were injured in the accident.
Further details and pictures have come forth overnight. The base of the crane failed either in the crossbase (cruciform) or in the mast just above the base. You'll see an outrigger of the crossbase lifted. I don't know if that structural failure is a cause or effect of the collapse. The yellow in the picture is a small excavator that seems to be a loss. An interesting shot is a tree that was split in two by a chord of the jib. You can see a total of 11 pics at http://stimme.de/hohenlohe/nachrichten/Oehringen-Heidelberg-Kran-Unfall-Polizei-Gauer;art1919,1469536

If you sprechen Duetsch you can read more as well.  

Turmdrehkran Unfall

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 17th 2009

Dubai UAE In what appears to be a Liebherr 132 (US designation) a fire breaks out in the control panel. This panel would be just behing the crane operator. The electrical fire spread and burned the entire cab leaving a plume of smoke. The operator in the process decided to go up to the top of the crane instead of down for one reason or another. The best option would have been to call down, have power shut down at the base and in most cases just get out and evac the job site. Ther operator prefferably climbing down. This operator ended up on the jib of the crane speaking jibberish about his potential death being God's will. There is a root cause to search out and I assure you there is nothing miraculous about it. I had a transformer catch on fire on me once in a cab but was able to kill power before it became a serious problem. When I called down to my bellman to say "Hold on, my cab is on fire." He asked me to repeat. It's an oddity but possible. Electrical cabinets must be kept clear, clean, and wired to manufacturers specifications. But if you are an operator, just have power killed and try to get down it the fire is beyond you putting it out. 
Video link
February 16th, 2009 Malta  
Self Erector topples on a contruction site and no one is injured, including the operator with the cab at the top of the tower. The video link shows the outrigger pads on some plywood, on firm ground. It appears that it wasn't a soils problem which is often the case. Proper amount of ballasting comes to mind as a potential problem. Assuming that's not the issue, we had an incidnet years ago in Seattle where a self erector could not make a pick. So they lifted the load with the forklift, strapped it to the crane and then removed the forklift. Is it possible that they were loading the crane by hand on a masonary job? I'm glad to see that no one was hurt. 
The videolink is below for a little more info.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Feb 4th, 2009

New York, NY

The Department of Buildings (DOB) has announced rough plans for what will soon be expected to operate cranes and hoists in New York City. Most of the cranes in New York are older due to a poor prototyping program. It can take up to 8 years just to get a new type of crane accepted in the city for use which has led to the old fleets. This is policy written in a way leads to monopolies and the old boy networks found in places like New York. Hopefully the revision will allow for more newer cranes to move into New York and hence, competition. 
Component tracking is on the horizon. The turntable in the failed Kodiak was taken down in an emergency approximately one year prior to it's collapse. The emergency dismantle was due to a cracked weld in the turntable. The repair was questioned by Bethany Klein while working at the Department of Buildings in an email. Ms. Klein had moved on to a private company when acceptance of the repair occurred. Hopefully this will become a template for inspectors like myself whom routinely look at welds knowing that it's a repair yet crane owners refuse to share documentation. 
Older cranes are going to be scrutinized more. Micro cracking is a serious problem in tower cranes depending on use, age, weather, etc. Older cranes should be moved along and if this is just one more way to limit the profitability of running a 30 year old crane, I'm all for it. Specific dates for more inspections and the frequency of those inspections has not been established. 
You can go to the DOB website linked here or www.vertikal.net for the short version of this same date, 2.04.09 There is plenty more to read and I for one am happy to see it.