A red runway built for an overhead bridge crane system which needs maintenance, as inspected by Harriman Material Handling service technician is pictured highlighting the curvature of the runway itself, noting in yellow text, "that is NOT a straight runway."

The Crucial Role of Servicing Your Overhead Crane Runway

Workplace Safety

Imagine a workplace where every year, an average of 42 lives are lost due to preventable accidents. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2011 to 2017, a staggering 297 individuals lost their lives in crane-related incidents. What’s even more alarming is that over half of these fatalities occurred when workers were struck by falling objects or equipment. These sobering statistics underscore the urgent need for enhanced safety measures in industrial settings, particularly when it comes to overhead crane operations.

“From 2011 to 2017, the manufacturing industry accounted for another 24 percent of crane deaths. One-third of all worker deaths involving cranes in 2011–17 were to workers in transportation and material moving occupations. Over half of these workers were crane operators. The worker was operating a crane at the time of the fatal injury in 22 percent of cases. Twenty-four percent occurred at a factory or plant.” – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Understanding the Importance of Overhead Crane Runways

Regular inspections and maintenance on overhead crane runways are essential to prevent accidents and downtime, ultimately saving time, money, and grief for businesses. Overhead crane runways play a vital role in supporting crane systems, but they are subject to wear and tear over time. Issues such as hardware cracking and falling is a major safety hazard as it could create other operational inefficiencies, or worse, land on personnel.

Misalignment can also cause excessive wear on bridge crane wheels, potentially leading to costly repairs and extremely dangerous situations.

Picture this:

Your rail span or elevation is out of alignment. Now your crane is skewing on the runway, leading to excessive flange wear on the bridge and wheels. Eventually, the crane comes out of square and there is now even more severe bridge wheel wear and cracked end trucks, making your crucial picks completely ineffective. Fast forward and the crane is severely worn, it jumps the rail, and causes a shock load condition on the wire ropes, snapping your rope and dropping the load.

We don’t want that for you, and we know you don’t want that either.

Whether you have a workstation, free-standing, semi-free standing, header-braced, or knee-braced top running runway, a free-standing, ceiling-mounted underhung runway, or finally a free-standing or ceiling-mounted enclosed track runway, taking care of your overhead crane system and runway is critical to extend the life of the bridge crane wheels and keep the crane in alignment. With some bridge wheels now costing upwards of $10K/unit, we’re here to help you pay smaller prices by getting ahead of major disasters.

Services Offered by Harriman Material Handling for Runway Maintenance

HMH offers a range of services for overhead crane systems maintenance, including inspections, load tests, surveys, and inspector training. With all services completed in-house, HMH provides reliable expertise and a one-stop solution for all of your service needs.

Ensuring safety and optimal performance in your facility is key in effective operations.


During our inspections, Harriman follows OSHA Regulations 1910.179, Overhead and Gantry Cranes and appropriate ANSI/ASME Standards for Overhead and Gantry Cranes and Hoists.

Our inspections ensure that:

  • Bearings, wire ropes, rope guides, and open gears are properly lubricated.
  • Hoist, trolley, and bridge brakes are properly adjusted.
  • Limits are set and/or corrected.
  • Dynamic load testing has been performed, (this is only required on initial startup, after an engineering change has been made to the system, or if there is a problem with the equipment. The same goes for NDT of hooks and bore-a-scope.)
  • No tie back plates, splice plates, J-bolts, or rail clips are loose or missing.
  • Visually, the runway is aligned.

Frequent inspections are performed month-to-month, while periodic inspections are performed annually. We recommend that anyone with a runway who is performing hot metal or galvanizing applications have inspections done frequently rather than annually as the severe usage of the equipment, high heat of the environment, moisture, and acidic atmosphere is more inclined to wear quickly on your runway. Remember, these inspections are so you can help prevent a tragic incident, reduce delays in production, and save money in the long run.

Runway Surveys

Runway surveys involve precise measurements to identify and work toward resolving any deviations from OSHA guidelines.

Crane runways are at the foundation of good crane health. Runways are originally installed to be within the tolerances published in CMAA recommendations. These tolerances are in many cases plus or minus 1/8″ in span and within ¼ inch of each other in elevation. No matter what type of overhead crane system you have in your plant, good runway systems are the key to safety and reduced maintenance.

Aging crane runways can become out of span for many reasons but the most common reasons are building settlement, crane overloads, and crane malfunctions.

The Benefits of Proactive Runway Maintenance

Proactive runway maintenance offers numerous benefits in terms of safety, efficiency, and cost savings. By addressing issues before they escalate, businesses can avoid costly accidents and disruptions.

One of our technicians highlighted the importance of identifying and addressing issues such as cracked rails or sagging beams promptly. He reported having found the following critical issues upon maintenance which was avoided and long overdue:

  • Rails cracked in half
  • Flanges completely gone
  • Rail coming down on either side of the wheel

You do NOT want this to be you. Prioritizing runway maintenance as a proactive measure underscores the significance of investing in safety and operational excellence.

Listen and watch your operations closely. Look to see if the crane is skewing or if it has excessive bounce when lifting. Watch to see if the crane is going back and forth properly. Listen for loud knocks and squealing sounds as it travels, these are signs of wear and tear. Runway maintenance and inspections are often overlooked and undervalued. Take note of any issues early on and contact us right away to minimize costly repairs, downtime, and potentially fatal situations.


Taking proactive steps to ensure workplace safety and efficiency is paramount in industrial operations. By paying attention to signs of wear and tear on overhead crane runways and investing in regular maintenance, businesses can mitigate risks and optimize performance. HMH stands ready to support businesses with expert guidance and comprehensive maintenance services, ensuring that overhead crane runways are maintained to the highest standards. Connect with HMH today to prioritize safety and efficiency in your operations.

Prioritizing runway maintenance is essential for ensuring the safety and efficiency of industrial operations. By partnering with HMH for expert guidance and support, businesses can proactively address maintenance needs and mitigate risks, ultimately saving time and money while promoting a safer work environment.

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