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SKF condition monitoring for container cranes improves safety, productivity and cost control

The challenge

At one of Australia’s largest ports, the operator of the port’s container terminal needed to reduce unplanned maintenance. The operator also needed a way to plan maintenance operations in a manner that did not interrupt high-capacity time periods.

The solution

The operator contracted with SKF to perform periodic inspections of critical crane components using vibration analysis techniques designed for variable speed machinery. Starting in 2006, SKF began to periodically survey conditions on each crane’s main hoist, trolley drive and boom hoist motors and gearboxes.

Each crane is monitored every three months during scheduled downtime. The data is recorded and analyzed by SKF engineers. A report is provided to the container terminal operator, identifying faults related to bearings, gear tooth damage, lubrication status, coupling faults and misalignment. In 2010/2011, the operator rolled out the program to cover cranes at two more container terminals in Australia.

The results

In one instance, an SKF survey detected a drive end bearing problem on a cross travel motor. The bearing was replaced before any unplanned downtime was incurred. In another case, SKF identified a critical defect on a bearing in the main hoist gearbox. Again, early identification allowed the operator to make the necessary bearing replacement with no unplanned downtime.

With the data provided by the SKF condition monitoring service, reliability issues are being detected before they become major problems, saving time and money, decreasing downtime and increasing asset availability. With the ability to plan maintenance when accessing potentially unsafe areas of the cranes, employee safety has also been improved.
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