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z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
2/19/15 12:17 p.m.

My current job has a lot to do with the industry (winches, hoists, monitoring systems).

I'm thinking getting out from behind the desk and actually doing something would be nice. They make great money and you can work just about anywhere, which would be nice since my wife travels for work and would also like to move out of Tulsa.

Thoughts?

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
2/19/15 12:39 p.m.

I've played with them and was once certified to repair them. The ones on here:

Actually, those exact cranes on that exact ship. You could tandem them and lift an Abrams tank.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
2/19/15 12:41 p.m.

Oh, and for construction work cranes, it is dependent on the construction industry, which isn't doing too well right now. But, it is a sellable skill, I think.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn PowerDork
2/19/15 1:00 p.m.

Just saw a report on the local news last night: one of the local high schools brought a bunch of seniors to a place where they could try out heavy equipment as a potential career opportunity. http://www.kare11.com/story/news/local/2015/02/18/extreme-sandbox-kennedy-high-school-zappa-kressen-baas/23640291/

I think most heavy equipment operators end up in the IUOE union, there may be some information there on job opportunities: http://www.iuoe.org/ From what I understand there's a lot of demand for heavy equipment operators in Minnesota, it may be different in other states.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy UberDork
2/19/15 1:18 p.m.
z31maniac wrote: I'm thinking getting out from behind the desk and actually doing something would be nice.

High stress. No movement (the crane is your desk). You sit and wait... and wait... and wait... and then gogogogogogogogogo.

Also requires you to work/communicate extremely well with others, as most spotting is done verbally.

I don't operate cranes, but I've dealt with them in construction enough to have seen this. The money is good, but you also have to be willing to follow where construction is.

KyAllroad
KyAllroad Dork
2/19/15 2:00 p.m.

Everything hi temp says.

Plus the responsibility level. Screw up just a little at the wrong time and people die. Between that and the time stuck in one spot (tower crane operators spend their entire shift up there alone, no coming down) I had no desire to pursue it as a job.

tuna55
tuna55 UltimaDork
2/19/15 2:07 p.m.

This can happen

Not at one of our sites, thank God.

But it is crazy cool to see this thing flying through the shop

And that weighs about as much as eight of those tanks mentioned above.

It's a needed trade.

NGTD
NGTD SuperDork
2/19/15 3:34 p.m.

Or this can happen:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/12/17/major_fire_in_downtown_kingston_damages_buildings_crane_operator_rescued_by_helicopter.html

Poor bugger got trapped in his crane, while the building he was working on burned below him. He is lucky that Trenton is only about 50 minutes (by car) from Kingston. The flight time, even for a chopper, was probably 10 minutes or less. He had to get out to the end of the boom to avoid getting cooked (literally).

Iusedtobefast
Iusedtobefast Reader
2/19/15 5:02 p.m.

As a member of IUOE local 150 I can tell you that you can make excellent money. Long hours. If you run a portable crane, you will be very busy, no contractor likes those sitting on a job doing nothing. Stationary cranes are another beast. You can sit in one for 8 hours and never make a pick all day. Have to climb the tower to get to your cab even when it's cold. Most importantly, at least here in the Chicago area and I believe it's national too, you must be licensed to run them. I run an excavator and those guys seem to be making picks all the time while I sit home all winter, so I would say they work a lot!

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/19/15 5:09 p.m.

I only operate small cranes and booms, but I use big ones pretty regularly.

It's a truly boring job, though it does pay well. All day sitting in a cab, waiting for instructions.

There is also a pretty high level of responsibility.

Here's my attitude about a crane operator... YOU are responsible for the safety and integrity of the product you are lifting, the condition of your equipment, the abilities of the riggers, the safety of everyone and everything on the job, the protection of everyone and everything in a city block radius, clear communication (regardless of the language), overhead risks, calculating shifting loads, and I will even hold you responsible for the wind and the rain.

You have to be THE highest level professional on the job, and the humblest. You have to put everyone else and the work they are trying to accomplish in front of your own opinions, schedule, bowel movements, etc.

I once fired a crane operator for leaving his seat. Instantly. He left 2 men stranded on top of a 10,000 gal flammables tank because he was hungry and wanted a sandwich. Yes, it was lunchtime. Yes, he was the company's lead operator. I don't care. I told him to get off my job immediately.

You can expect absolutely no mercy from guys like me.

But the good ones are absolutely irreplaceable, and I rely on them heavily. They are a privilege to work around.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/19/15 6:14 p.m.

In other words, it pays well for a reason.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy PowerDork
2/19/15 7:19 p.m.
Iusedtobefast wrote: As a member of IUOE local 150 I can tell you that you can make excellent money. Long hours. If you run a portable crane, you will be very busy, no contractor likes those sitting on a job doing nothing. Stationary cranes are another beast. You can sit in one for 8 hours and never make a pick all day. Have to climb the tower to get to your cab even when it's cold. Most importantly, at least here in the Chicago area and I believe it's national too, you must be licensed to run them. I run an excavator and those guys seem to be making picks all the time while I sit home all winter, so I would say they work a lot!

Interesting. I live in the area - I have two 150 buddies running cranes. One goes to Canada Fort Mac for work.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/19/15 7:24 p.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: In other words, it pays well for a reason.

Yup.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/19/15 10:19 p.m.

[note: serious question, even though it'll sound glib.]

Is "...for a living?" redundant in that post title? Like, is there any situation you would be running a crane where it wasn't your job? I was under the impression that anyone in the cab of a crane had to be a trained pro, and not just the guy who paid for the rental. [note: if the latter, i know EXACTLY what I'm doing this weekend].

Also, is crane operator training heavily math-based, or is it more functional? Like, do those guys know about load paths and can do pythagorean calculations on the fly in their heads, or does that knowledge just come when the crane doesn't fold in half on several jobs in a row?

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/20/15 6:38 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak:

Varies a bit by region.

In the Northeast (which has LOTS of unions and OSHA inspectors), it's pretty tightly controlled.

In the Deep South where I live, I've never seen anyone asked to show any form of training or credentialing in over 20 years.

You can rent a small boom and run it yourself.

A medium crane is a little different. They are rarely rented without an operator. Owners don't like unskilled people berkeleying with the controls of their expensive machinery.

But ANYONE can buy one, then choose who they put in the seat. I know several farmers who have and operate pretty large cranes (120 foot or so).

Stationary cranes pretty much don't exist in areas that don't have high rises, so credentialing is more likely (because big cities have more inspectors, etc).

And yes, these guys are not stupid. The old school guys calculate loads and angles in their heads. Gradient charts and load reduction tables are in the cabs of most cranes. Newer equipment has automatic load scales and safety shut offs onboard.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/20/15 6:41 a.m.

It's a lot like driving a race car.

A racer does not need to be a mechanical engineer, but he does need to have a good sense of geometry, slip angles, etc, along with an excellent feel for the equipment and what it's limits feel like.

84FSP
84FSP Reader
2/20/15 7:00 a.m.

In reply to tuna55:

I see another gas turbine guy lives here! I was a GE Gas Turbine guy for a few years out of school and have fond memories of the monster turbine rotors moving overhead that took massive cranes to lift and move from repair to the balance area.

JtspellS
JtspellS SuperDork
2/20/15 7:33 a.m.

If you are looking I will say yes check with the unions, but where I work at they are trained in house but this is because we are one of the few non union places on the port.

Now working a crane on a ship is completely different then a normal construction crane because it's depends on the material you are moving, if you have to use company cranes or the usually awful ship cranes, chop of the water as well as wind, as others have said it's good pay but very high stress as well.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
2/20/15 8:13 a.m.
SVreX wrote: The old school guys calculate loads and angles in their heads. Gradient charts and load reduction tables are in the cabs of most cranes. Newer equipment has automatic load scales and safety shut offs onboard.

I'm going to assume you meant they calculate radius based on the load and angle (It's the operators responsibility to know the load they are lifting). There would be no way to "calculate" the load without an LMI system on board and there are basic angle indicators on all cranes.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
2/20/15 8:14 a.m.
JG Pasterjak wrote: [note: serious question, even though it'll sound glib.] Is "...for a living?" redundant in that post title? Like, is there any situation you would be running a crane where it wasn't your job? I was under the impression that anyone in the cab of a crane had to be a trained pro, and not just the guy who paid for the rental. [note: if the latter, i know EXACTLY what I'm doing this weekend]. Also, is crane operator training heavily math-based, or is it more functional? Like, do those guys know about load paths and can do pythagorean calculations on the fly in their heads, or does that knowledge just come when the crane doesn't fold in half on several jobs in a row?

For instance the woman who puts together the load charts for our software is a licensed operator, so when we test new systems she can legally run the machines.

Also our field techs are also licensed, but don't do it for a living.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/20/15 8:26 a.m.
z31maniac wrote:
SVreX wrote: The old school guys calculate loads and angles in their heads. Gradient charts and load reduction tables are in the cabs of most cranes. Newer equipment has automatic load scales and safety shut offs onboard.
I'm going to assume you meant they calculate radius based on the load and angle (It's the operators responsibility to know the load they are lifting). There would be no way to "calculate" the load without an LMI system on board and there are basic angle indicators on all cranes.

I stand corrected. I worded that badly.

I meant to calculate the load's effect at various angles, ie: radius.

Builder lingo vs engineer lingo.

Wally
Wally MegaDork
2/20/15 8:30 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak: Not cranes but it still looks like fun. http://www.diggerlandusa.com/

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
2/20/15 8:51 a.m.

The ones on the ship above were computer controlled, which was really high tech in the mid 80's. They had overload sensors, tube-lock sensors, etc., plus a "memory" feature where you could, say, pick a container from the ship or from the ship next to you, push the button and it would lift it up, swing over to the dock side and drop it down to the same place every time for the trucks. That ship, BTW, was designed as an Auxiliary Crane Ship. The idea was that with modern cargo all containerized, if TSHTF and the container docks were wiped out, how are you going to get your cargo ashore? Take that ship, put it along side the dock, bring another ship up next to it and unload the other ship with this one.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
2/20/15 9:20 a.m.
SVreX wrote:
z31maniac wrote:
SVreX wrote: The old school guys calculate loads and angles in their heads. Gradient charts and load reduction tables are in the cabs of most cranes. Newer equipment has automatic load scales and safety shut offs onboard.
I'm going to assume you meant they calculate radius based on the load and angle (It's the operators responsibility to know the load they are lifting). There would be no way to "calculate" the load without an LMI system on board and there are basic angle indicators on all cranes.
I stand corrected. I worded that badly. I meant to calculate the load's effect at various angles, ie: radius. Builder lingo vs engineer lingo.

No worries. Just wanted to make it clear for anyone else reading this.

As you can tell, I write the operator/troubleshooting/calibration manuals for LMI systems for cranes.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
2/20/15 9:21 a.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: The ones on the ship above were computer controlled, which was really high tech in the mid 80's. They had overload sensors, tube-lock sensors, etc., plus a "memory" feature where you could, say, pick a container from the ship or from the ship next to you, push the button and it would lift it up, swing over to the dock side and drop it down to the same place every time for the trucks. That ship, BTW, was designed as an Auxiliary Crane Ship. The idea was that with modern cargo all containerized, if TSHTF and the container docks were wiped out, how are you going to get your cargo ashore? Take that ship, put it along side the dock, bring another ship up next to it and unload the other ship with this one.

That's pretty impressive!

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