On any construction site, the people who operate and direct the machinery are just as important – or even more so – than the equipment itself. Just as it takes skill and good judgment to safely use any type of heavy equipment, it also requires being able to properly communicate with co-workers on the job site. Equipment makers such as National Crane and others promote correct and safe use of all of their equipment, strongly recommending that no lift site be without a Lift Planner to arrange and monitor activity to ensure worker protections and safe equipment usage as well.

Why Is Planning Important for Crane Operators?

Though it may seem like a simple action, the job of moving heavy loads with a crane can be more complex than it appears. There is a certain degree of complexity primarily because it is unusual that the conditions are the same for every lift that is made. So every move is different, nearly a completely different job, which is why all precautions and planning should occur with every lift to keep the operation safe.

The variances that can happen when lifting with cranes are many; each one can increase job risks if not properly assessed. Not only are there many types of cranes with different lifting mechanisms that work in different ways, different materials are being loaded and lifted and must be considered in the lifting equation as well. And what about the work site variances? Accurate and controlled movement of heavy material must be well planned, orchestrated events in order for remain under control from the first few inches off the ground to the last.

What Is The Job of A Lift Planner?

A Lift Planner is an engineer who works with crane operations and their equipment such as a National Crane truck to plan safe, yet efficient lifts. It is easy to think there is nothing very difficult about using a crane to raise and move heavy items; this is just not true. Ignoring lifting complexities could very well increase the risk of an accident. Because of the variables mentioned above, every effort made is different and must therefore be engineered so that the work goes the way it was planned.

Lift Planners are engineers who have knowledge and experience with various lifting equipment, a thorough understanding of physics, and knows how equipment and physics affect each other in the process of lifting heavy loads using different methods. They create safe plans that include weight specifications and limits based on the equipment being used as well as the work site and environment where the lifting will occur. Then, to ensure such plans are properly executed, a Lift Planner will observe all job site lift activity.

What About Lift Planning Software?

While it is true that technology is a great thing, providing helpful programs that automate certain tasks within larger jobs, there are times when technology is just not the best idea. Planning heavy lifts with equipment is one of them; it is a task better handled by an actual Planner.

The main reason why it is recommended to have an engineer on staff to plan out crane use rather than rely on computer software is basic human error. The programs are not the simplest to run, leaving room for error. In some cases, equipment operators either use the program wrong or interpret the results incorrectly; needless to say, when moving extreme amounts even a small degree of error can be fatal. It has also happened that the directives and illustrations explaining how to use the software are inaccurate; the result is that anyone who follows the inaccurate instructions could end up inadvertently planning not a safe lift but an accident.

The consensus from equipment manufacturers such as National Crane is that living, breathing engineers greatly outweigh any other means of lift planning – and with good reason. These Lift Planners are experienced with all parts of the equation necessary to avoid risks when lifting and can easily judge when and where adjustments should be made. They certain know that no two lift efforts will ever be exactly the same – and plan for that!

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