Military Crane Safety, Survivability, and Mission Success Solutions

Army Engineer Magazine 2021 9
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Military Crane Hydraulic System Survivability and Safety

Modern military cranes must be designed to conduct construction operations in tactical locations exposed to enemy small arms and fragmentation threats. The designs must provide safety to operators, ensure preservation for these high-cost equipment investments and ensure mission accomplishment for strategic purposes. They also handle ammunition, explosives and other hazardous materials. Due to the dangerous and critical work they do, a fail-safe design for these crane hydraulic systems is a necessity.

In the Battle of Sadr City, Iraq US Military Cranes were engaged by snipers attempting to disable the crane's systems in order to prevent the equipment from continuing its mission.  While the operator cabs were protected, the snipers then turn to shoot at components of the crane to attempt to disable it.  The hydraulic systems of cranes are susceptible to this type of enemy engagement or fragmentation from indirect fire.  This creates a situation in which modern military cranes can be damaged or destroyed and operators and other team members on the ground could be killed.  All due to the hydraulic pressure being lost while the system is under load either to its main lift boom or stabilizers

This Requires New Thinking for Modern Military Crane Designs or Other Tactical Vehicles with Hydraulics

Because hydraulic systems are involved in lifting loads on military cranes, their design for survivability and safety must become part of military crane design. A hydraulic failure due to enemy small arms or fragmentation can cause a crane rollover due to unplanned movement of hydraulic cylinders while in load handling operations in tactical environments. This can result in death or injury to operators and cause equipment damage that can prevent mission success.

Commercial crane safety designs using only load-holding valves cannot provide the safety or load-holding protection necessary to meet modern military tactical environment requirements. For military cranes, an integrated rod lock plays an essential role in protecting operators and equipment. Armoring crane hydraulic systems is not a practical solution due to the weight increases would negatively effect crane performance. Tactical crane safety and survivability goes beyond simply armoring operator cabs, hydraulic system integrity must be maintained.

Military cranes can use Bear-Loc® systems to protect them from hydraulic failure and provide for this critical survivability and safety need. Any hydraulic component failure due to enemy small arms or fragmentation could result in cylinder movement and a crane collapse or rollover. A fail-safe rod lock would prevent unplanned cylinder movement and will keep main hydraulic and stabilizer cylinders in place if pressure is lost.

A hydraulic cylinder could literally be penetrated and yet the load would not move even though all hydraulic fluid would be lost.

If you are a military crane operator or owner, insist your crane designs have a fail-safe rod lock integrated into your main hydraulic lift and stabilizer cylinders.

Military Crane Applications

Militaries use cranes for various kinds of work. Cranes are essential for lifting and moving heavy materials, making them a must-have on many job sites. Part of using a crane effectively is ensuring it is as safe as possible for your crane operator and the people and property surrounding the crane use site. Though many crane varieties exist, they can all benefit from a Bear-Loc® system, which immediately lock your equipment and load position in the event of hydraulic pressure loss.

Military Cranes are used for:

Battle Damage Cleanup in Hazardous and Non-Hazardous locations

Barrier Emplacement for Containment Operations in Hazardous and Non-Hazardous areas

Bridge Construction and Gap Crossing Operations 

Ship Loading and Other On Base Operations

Nuclear Material Movement

Ammunition and Ordance Handling and Loading

Vehicle Loading

Military Construction in safe and hazardous locations

Port Cranes

Ship Building and Overhaul Activities

Depot Activities

Keeping Crane Operators Safe

One of the best ways to keep crane operators safe and reduce the chance of equipment or property damage is to use a Bear-Loc®

A Bear-Loc® features a sleeve with an interference clamping lock system. Whenever there's a loss of hydraulic pressure whether accidentally or intentionally, the Bear-Loc® instantly locks the rod, no matter what phase the stroke is in. This ability prevents the boom from unpredictable swinging or moving during a power loss or hydraulic system failure. 

We customize our patented Bear-Loc® to meet your locking needs from small to very large. BEAR-LOC® has a unique design based on the principle of elastic expansion of metal under pressure.  Examine the Bear-Loc® features and how it sets itself apart from the competition. 

No other locking device combines

☑ fail-safe reliability

☑ infinite position locking, bidirectional locking

☑ zero backlash

☑ high system stiffness

☑ Easy to use

☑ Maintains locking integrity and position even when struck/degraded by enemy threats

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If you're looking for a safe, reliable locking feature for your hydraulic components, look no further than Bear-Loc®. These innovative locking devices have earned the trust of companies around the world because of their innovative design, ease of use, and — most of all — their failsafe performance. Bear-Loc® locks instantly when hydraulic pressure is removed, whether on purpose or accidentally. Bear-Loc® also features high system stiffness, zero-backlash, and infinite position locking. Bear-Loc® is the ideal solution whenever you need safety and performance.

Types of Military Cranes With Hydraulic Systems

At York Precision Machining & Hydraulics LLC, we craft Bear-Loc® devices for various cranes to ensure our clients can complete a wide selection of tasks with an assurance of safety. Whether you need a crane for military or civilian applications, you are going to want it to be safe to operate and able to complete jobs without causing damage.

To help you meet this goal, we can provide a Bear-Loc® system for everything from mobile cranes and bulk handling cranes, to portal cranes and any crane that uses hydraulics as either a primary or supplementary power system. Learn more about some of the top types of military and commercial cranes, both mobile and stationary, we can outfit with Bear-Loc® devices.

Army Engineer Magazine
Tactical Mobile Cranes

Tactical Mobile Cranes: These cranes are used for construction and engineering operations. There are numerous categories of mobile cranes, such as all-terrain, boom truck, rough-terrain, truck-mounted, telescoping crawler and carry deck cranes.

bulk handling crane
Portal & Ship Building Cranes

Portal & Ship Maintenance Cranes: Portal cranes are ideal for ship cargo loading and offloading, ship maintenance, ship construction and other marine port purposes.

mil usable
Domestic and Foreign Base Operations

Base Operations Cranes: These cranes conduct base operation tasks to facilititate day to day operations on base and in no or low threat zones.  They may handle valueable and hazardous cargo.

army crane
Loader Cranes

Loader Cranes: A vehicle-mounted loader crane can lift heavy equipment, placing the load on a vehicle or trailer. The machine's design incorporates an articulated arm used for lifting. They are an installed piece of load-handling equipment for transportation vehicles that require the use of a crane to self-pick and position their cargo, do roadside or job site maintenance, or conduct material transfer.

barrier crane
Ammunition and Nuclear Material Handling

Specialized Cranes for Nuclear and Ammunition Material Handling: These cranes require design for safety to prevent dropped or damaged loads that could cause death or significant destruction.

Bear-Loc® can assist each of these cranes by providing them with excellent protection from the potentially dangerous effects of hydraulic system failure. You can find cranes using linear, jacking and rotary Bear-Loc® devices for reliable safety protection. You can also expect Bear-Loc® systems to be highly dependable, as they work automatically and last for a long time.

combat crane

Don't Just Take Our Word For It

A Call to Action For Mission Success by Preparing Engineering Equipment Hydraulics with Solutions for Safety and System Preservation in Threat Environments: The Battle of Sadr City

“Snipers would also shoot at the crane cable or the lone soldier that was forced to climb a ladder to unhook each concrete wall."

“But there are also a number of urban warfare lessons that were learned (and in many cases re-learned) that need to be captured for consideration in future urban combat operations.” 

“Cranes were required to get T-walls off trucks and soldiers had to scale ladders to unhook them from the cranes. A closer examination is warranted, with the aim of enhancing the construction, transportation, and emplacement of barriers and walls.”

-Modern Warfare Institute, US Military Academy, West Point, New York.

Crane Hydraulic Systems and Lock Safety Solutions

Bear-Loc® systems are the top lock safety solutions for crane hydraulic systems. These systems are the most durable and reliable fail-safe locking devices in the industry due to their many features. For instance, Bear-Loc®'s simple design, automatic locking and incredible versatility all combine to create a lock safety solution designed to give you a highly durable and top-performing fail-safe system.

Learn more about the many features of Bear-Loc® devices.

  • Simple design: Bear-Loc®'s sophisticated engineering results in the most reliable locking device with the fewest components or moving parts. We designed them to optimize reliability and reduce the amount of preventive maintenance needed.
  • Infinite-position and bidirectional locking: Part of what makes Bear-Loc® systems so popular is how the sleeve's locking section can engage the cylinder rod at any point in the stroke. This infinite-position locking expands performance capability.  The lock can instantly unlock and move in either direction of stroke.
  • Automatic locking: Whether hydraulic pressure change or loss is planned or unplanned during operation, you can trust Bear-Loc® to lock automatically. The lock prevents movement and protects workers on your job site from injuries. As a result, you can think of it as the safest, most versatile option available for your hydraulic system locking and load-holding needs.
  • Incredible versatility: You can find Bear-Loc® devices in several mounting styles and configurations, making it easy to find one matching the crane type and size your team relies on.


See Our Hydraulic Crane Frequently Asked Questions about Bear-Loc® Below

Get a Quote for Custom Design and Engineering

If you are ready to increase your cranes' safety, turn to York Precision Machining & Hydraulics, LLC. Operating since 1970, we are a U.S.-owned company strategically located near major East Coast transportation hubs. We are well-known for our precision machining and large parts capability.

Our team of knowledgeable experts, large facility and cutting-edge CNC machinery combine to ensure you can trust our ability to create reliable Bear-Loc® systems. Besides crafting Bear-Loc® to work perfectly in your cranes, we also offer custom precision machining and other tailor-made products, such as hydraulic actuators and accumulators.

We work with your equipment OEM for integration of Bear-Loc® into Hydraulic Systems. Contact us today to receive a free quote for custom design and engineering, or contact your OEM or Dealer and request a Bear-Loc® integration into your equipment.

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Last Updated: April 28th, 2021