Substitutions For Your Broken Overhead Crane: How To Keep Your Work Flow Moving

Heavy loads need cranes to move. Companies can rely too heavily on overhead cranes, meaning when one breaks down, the entire assembly line stops. It does not have to. In fact, there are some reasonable substitutions you can use either along the line, or during the loading and unloading process.


Forklifts are often taken for granted. They are always present on the loading and unloading dock, but their ability to lift several tons is exactly what makes them versatile. When you have to wait for an overhead crane to be fixed, you can substitute forklifts for the lift power you need.

Shop Cranes

Shop cranes do not have the power lift nor the height you may need, but for smaller projects on the assembly line, they do quite well. Most shop cranes can lift up to two tons (4,000lbs), which, in a pinch, can make a difference. You can manually operate several models, but there are a few that are electric, which saves your employees' backs from the strain of pushing and pulling loads that heavy around the work floor.

Vertical and Scissor Hydraulic Platforms

Chances are, you already have one or two of these in your plant anyway. If you need to move heavy, condensed size loads higher than a shop crane can go, using the two in tandem or using a forklift, and a vertical scissor lift can temporarily replace a broken overhead crane. The scissor lift can provide you with more lift power because of its design, but a vertical lift can manage just as well.

Cranes of the Heavy Construction Equipment Kind

Small cranes, with or without magnetized lifting plates, may also be a good substitute for your broken overhead crane. It just depends where in your factory you need it, since the size of the machine is not conducive to assembly line work. However, in a warehouse or loading dock with high ceiling clearance, a small crane is a perfect substitute.

When You Go with Your "Plan B"

Once you have selected which of the above machines will be your "plan B", you can continue work in a reasonable flow. Things might slow up a bit when they come to the area where your overhead bridge crane is not working and plan B is, but at least it is not a complete shut down of the plant until the repair technician arrives. Be sure to secure an appointment with the overhead crane manufacturers as soon as the crane is nonfunctional, such that your substitutes do not have to be in play for more than a couple of days. For more information, check out websites such as