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Finding the Right Crane for the Job


Any carpenter will tell you that having the right tool for the job makes all the difference. Certainly, Snap-On, a major American tool company, would agree -- and would also encourage you to find the right place to safely store those tools.

Gorbel_Bridge_LAt its manufacturing facility where high end tool storage is made, Snap-On forms sheet metal into premium toolboxes. The storage units range from small to the very large 12 ft long tool chests used by performance racing teams.

Overhead Cranes Prove Inflexible

In order to support the demand and an efficient work flow, the facility’s layout is heavily dependent on overhead cranes to support the manufacturing process.

“We use cranes to support air balancers and gun welders primarily, and a few small hoists,” said Mike Rahe, manufacturing engineer. “Some cranes are used for lifting, but primarily they support our tools and give our people the maneuverability that they need. . . . We had a lot of in-house built, I-beam type bridge cranes and Spanmaster I-beam jib cranes, but we were having a lot of trouble.” The heavy I-beam style cranes were very bulky and hard to move, and didn’t offer Snap-On much flexibility for future changes.

The Right Crane Improves Productivity, Safety

Over the course of 14 years, Snap-On has replaced all I-beam bridge and jib cranes with Gorbel workstation cranes with lightweight aluminum bridges. By switching from I-beam cranes to Gorbel’s enclosed track workstation cranes, Snap-On reduced the amount of force needed to move the suspended tools, which reduced worker fatigue and injury, and also increased productivity.

According to an ergonomic study done by the Rochester Institute of Technology, workstation cranes increased productivity in workers by an average of 27% compared to the same task done using I-beam cranes.

“Gorbel works so much smoother on everything, we’ve reduced our shoulder and back injuries enormously,” said Mike Rahe.

In addition to reaping the benefits of a healthier workforce, Snap-On also enjoys the flexibility that Gorbel cranes provide. In order to maintain efficiency and a competitive edge, the work flow at the plant needs to be able to evolve with the products they make.

“Most of the Gorbel orders are just components, adding onto or modifying what we already have. The Gorbel cranes give our workers the easy movement and flexibility to get their job done safely. They run so well and are so adaptable, it gives us peace of mind,” Rahe sums up.

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