Repair Before Replace When Safe
When safe, lifting equipment can often be repaired rather than replaced. Replacing equipment is not always the cheaper option, says Ashley Thacker, general manager, Ranger Lifting.
This article outlines the benefits of a repair before replace (when safe) policy, which can be frowned upon by lifting equipment suppliers who put short-term profit before long-term relationships. Trust can very quickly evaporate if a provider is driven by a self-serving belief that money is in the replacement not the inspection.
When your car goes in for a service you expect to drive it home again afterwards. If it’s a few years old, you might not be surprised when you get a bill for repairs, whether it is for the tyres, suspension, or something else. You perform our yown running maintenance too; depending on your automotive engineering knowledge, a fan belt or battery may need to be replaced. You fill it up with petrol too, wash them, top up the oil, and make sure you’ve got plenty of screen wash.
You get attached to your car; some people give them names. It takes a serious set of circumstances for us to part company with them and get a new one. It might be that the cost of a repair exceeds the value of a vehicle or the likely ongoing costs mean it would make more economic sense to buy a new one. If the brake pads, tyres, and exhaust emission levels all fail an annual road test, you may bid a fond farewell to the vehicle before instructing repairs.
Unless a person has got more money than savvy, or upgrades their car at unusually regular intervals, common sense tends to prevail. Cars are just one example of people trying to preserve the life of their assets. It’s remarkablethat many lifting equipment users and their suppliers take a very different approach to hoists and rigging gear. Too often items are thrown away when a simple repair would see them comfortably pass a test or inspection and safely complete the task in hand.
It’s important to stress that I’m not suggesting we should assume lifting equipment is more robust than we think it is, or that items shouldn’t be checked before each use. A key component of a successful repair before replace (when safe) policy is daily visual inspection by a competent person, coupled with thorough, periodic inspections (we’ve explored this subject in earlier articles). However, when that individual reports their findings to the relevant person, the manufacturer or provider must be advised and all parties should consider the value of repairing the hoist, sling, hook, or other item before throwing it away and paying for a replacement.
Throwing money away
It’s true that these days it is probably not economical to replace major load bearing parts, except for items such as brake disks and latches on hooks, but repairing or replacing a safety catch on, say, a chain sling, chain block, or lever hoist, costs just a few dollars. Why throw the whole thing away? Replacement of a damaged hook on a chain sling can be a cheap repair compared to the cost of the chain sling itself. Yet, there are hundreds of slings thrown away every day in Australia when such simple repairs could see them returned to safe service.
Lifting equipment suppliers have a duty to their customers to only replace equipment when they have considered the viability of repair. Where the equipment can be made fit for the coming period of service at a cheaper cost than replacing it, the user should be given that option. The trouble is, too often providers prioritise short-term financial gain over a relationship spanning a lifetime that others, like Ranger, will prioritise. The guilty parties abuse their specialist knowledge and claim products are no longer fit for purpose. When advised to throw a rigging item away, no user who isn’t an expert on below-the-hook equipment is going to argue.
Mine’s a repair
It’s simple mathematics; think of the cash that can be saved over a year when a cost-effective repair (factoring in parts and labour) is made instead of a more expensive replacement. Sometimes the percentage difference is huge. Take a customer we helped in the mining sector, for example. As a result of adopting an effective repair before replace (when safe) policy, we reduced associated costs related to out of service assets by half over a three-year period. Imagine if a similar saving could be made at a major infrastructure site where $100k is spent over a similar period on out of service rigging gear alone. The $50k saving could go a long way elsewhere.
Repair before replace (when safe) policies have also proven to enhance efficiency of a site, especially where an approved, certificated repair can be made quickly onsite whereas a replacement unit might have to be sourced from afar. Rigging teams will be familiar with the existing product but may have to spend time understanding the mechanics and capabilities of the new one. If a simple sling is the item in question, the replacement will be the same, but stock levels might mean a similar, not identical, chain block, for example, is supplied. Perhaps the supplier or manufacturer has changed.
Are you replacing lifting gear that could be repaired at a fraction of the cost? Do you have complete trust in the guidance you’re getting from suppliers following inspection?
Consider the advantages of a repair before replace when safe policy backed up by certification from a lifting equipment specialist.
Thank you for reading.
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Ashley is General Manager at Ranger and a lifting equipment expert. Ashley has a great passion for the lifting industry and a determination to positively impact the way the world uses new technologies and components to lift materials and people.