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A black night in Baton Rouge

Stupp Corporation makes a comprehensive size range of custom steel pipe. At 2 a.m. on September 19, 2012, Konecranes service manager Stephen Doyle received a callout on a catastrophic failure of a 54-ton coil bay overhead crane in the company’s spiral mill. The root cause of the mishap was undetermined, but the results were clear. The hoist frame was severely damaged and the crane was completely inoperable.

“This crane is critical to their operation. It loads 40-ton steel coils into the pipe-making machine and is the beginning point for production at their mill,” said Doyle. Konecranes team inventoried the parts required to repair the hoist: a bearing housing, plus three out of four side plates that hold the drum in place. The wire rope was ruined, but they determined that the gearbox was still usable. The delivery assessment was six to eight weeks.

The Stupp crew made a temporary repair, but safety supervisors refused to authorize it, since the primary purpose of the crane was to pick up 40-ton coils of steel. The situation was at an impasse.

An interim solution

Stupp needed a workaround while parts were on order. According to Greg Newman, purchasing manager for Stupp, the crew developed a method using their forklift. “It wasn’t ideal, because it involved putting a very heavy piece of equipment loaded with a 40-ton coil on a floor that may not have been designed for that kind of load,” Newman said. This option took more manpower, time and money. “We had to take people from other jobs, which showed up in overtime costs on other projects,” said Newman. He estimated that the forklift workaround added $15,000 per day to their operational costs, because what normally could be done in two to three hours was now taking five or six.

Going the extra mile for the customer

Stephen Doyle understood the stakes and appealed to the very top of Konecranes Parts organization to expedite the parts that were needed. The order shipped from Finland on September 25, and the crane was operating again on October 12. Appreciation for the expedited repair has since translated into much more work for Konecranes at Stupp.