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Crane Engineering

Engineering Services

CP&A is an international engineering firm that specializes in cranes. CP&A offers a wide variety of crane engineering services tailored to your needs, including procurement, specification, design, design review, manufacturing review, voyage bracing, modifications and rehabilitation, accident investigation and repair and condition surveys.  With material handling equipment and crane engineering experience dating back to the 1960's, we can provide you with fast, efficient and dependable service.


The firm has experience working on a wide variety of cranes including container cranes, ship unloaders, gantry cranes, goliath cranes, floating cranes, stacker cranes, overhead cranes, and other material handling equipment.



Purchase Planning

During the container crane procurement process, it is important to independently estimate the wheel loads for the crane size of interest. Many different load combinations may need to be considered for a dock design potentially including LRFD and ASD level combinations. For whirley and STS container cranes, CP&A have setup a parametric crane model using modern crane characteristics to quickly run different crane configurations and get approximate wheel loads that the manufacturer should be able to meet.

The parameters that go into a crane study are:

  • Rail gauge

  • Main equalizer pin spacing

  • Outreach

  • Backreach

  • Lift Height

  • Rated Load

  • Stowed boom angle

  • If the crane is dual trolley

  • Hatch cover storage

This parametric crane model is run for wheel load combinations unique to the ports specification and can include operating, overload, inertial, and environmental wheel load combinations.  Upon reviewing results, options can be discussed with the client to come up with methods that may reduce wheel loads.  These methods may include changing geometric parameters, changing wind shape coefficients from code based to wind tunnel based, or adding anti-seismic systems, such as Basis, for seismic controlling wheel loads.

Single Trolley Ship to Shore Container Crane GA General Assembly
DHHI Ship to Shore Container Crane Sailing

Purchase Specifications

We believe a technical specification should do more than just be a legal contract document that defines the seller's technical responsibilities to the buyer. Defining legal obligations is obviously necessary, but a specification can be far more valuable if it also serves as an excellent communication tool for all parties working on a project.


Those parties include subcontractors, vendors, the Original Equipment Manufacturer's (OEM's) engineers and construction managers, and also the Owner and OEM.

Crane technical requirements are never static. They change with new technology, new applications, and lessons learned from past accidents, performance defects, and communication problems. The importance of the latter cannot be over emphasized. We believe most people want to do what is right; but that is not always possible when poor communication leads to misunderstandings, claims, and a disappointing final result.

Design Review

A competent peer review from a qualified crane engineering team is statistically, without question, the most effective and most economical way to minimize serious engineering mistakes. The key word in peer review is peer. If the crane engineering consultants haven't participated in design of cranes, then they are not peers to the crane manufacturer's designers. CP&A offers complete independent third-party design reviews by licensed engineers in the USA, Canada, and China.


​We bring our long history of crane design experience and automated computer analysis to quickly and efficiently review the proposed designs of equipment suppliers and show you definitively where, how and why a submitted design does or does not meet your requirements. If asked, we can also suggest cost effective modifications to help the supplier comply.

Ship to Shore Container Cranes Under Construction
Custom Stacker Crane

Custom Crane Engineering

Often times our clients need solutions to problems without compromise. In the crane design industry, sometimes an off the shelf or pre-engineered solution will not meet requirements. When an off the shelf solution will not satisfy your lifting needs, a custom design should be considered. Parameters like duty cycles, operating speeds, and environmental conditions can greatly influence design.


Custom design is not a separate division, it makes up the majority of CP&A’s crane design work. CP&A have designed a variety of specialized equipment tailored to our client’s needs. CP&A have experience designing under challenging environments that many shy away from such as Class I Div I hazardous zones and Special Purpose Service.

CP&A are capable of all stages of custom crane development. Local machine shops have manufactured cranes from our drawing sets for design-bid-build. We have teamed up with crane manufactuers for design-build projects.

Crane Modifications

Oftentimes modifying older cranes or machines is a better solution than buying a new one. The most popular modification services are crane raises, boom extensions and lifted load increases. CP&A also provides mechanical modifications such as redesigning a trolley drive on a set of ship to shore cranes that had repeated failures across multiple sister cranes and adding load cells.


Our modification experience goes beyond container handling cranes. CP&A has provided a drop in solutions such as new end trucks for an overhead crane to extend its useful life.

Raise of a STS container crane
New Forestay for a Ship to Shore Container Crane

Crane Repair

Manually operated equipment often suffers repairable damage. They also suffer catastrophic damage that leads to litigation. For both categories, we are occasionally retained to supervise repairs or determine cause and estimate damages for litigation.

Container handling equipment is also subjected to harsh environmental and loading conditions that lead to a need for our engineering services. Hurricanes, microburst wind, and structural fatigue are some of the more common examples that can cause expensive repairs and catastrophic collapses.


One CP&A failure investigation revealed that the loss of 6 container cranes at DongBu terminals in Pusan, Korea started with failure of one defective tiedown on the upwind crane (see photo). This allowed the crane to lift enough to cause a stow pin to pop out of its socket leading to a domino collapse of the entire fleet of six cranes. No other investigators were able to understand or explain the accident cause until they read the report prepared by our crane engineers.

Prevention is always preferable to repair or replacement. We believe it is our responsibility to suggest prevention measures.

Expert Witness

Expert Witness work accounts for roughly 5% of our typical annual revenue. This limited exposure to the legal system has given us enough practical experience to be an effective and credible expert witness without the taint of being deemed a Professional Expert.

Usually our attorney clients represent a defendant. Probably this has to do with our reputation as competent equipment and crane engineers. Our long-term clientele are primary organizations and manufacturing companies that are more likely to be a defendant than a plaintiff. Claims have ranged from partial disability injuries under $1M to construction claims as high as $75M.

Our general practice is focused on mechanical equipment and earthquake engineering but our senior staff also have considerable past experience in Architectural and Engineering (A&E) type Structural and Civil Engineering. Thus we are qualified to render well-founded "Standard of Care" opinions related to private A&E practice without either defendant or plaintiff concern that we might have a competitor's bias.

Our experience includes both Federal and State courts. Some cases have gone to jury trial; most have settled soon after we have been deposed or our attorney client has submitted our formal Expert Report prepared by CP&A crane engineers.

FEA Shell Analysis for a STS Container Crane
Fatigue Crack in a Container Crane

Condition Surveys

What is the condition of your material handling equipment?


What is it worth?

What would modification cost?

Is the modification worth the cost?

What are your options?

Let us answer any or all of these questions for you in a concise condition survey...

Our crane engineers can make brief or full investigation of your equipment's mechanical, electrical and structural condition, and provide you with a detailed report. We can work with you to provide projected maintenance guidelines, NDT inspections, equipment upgrades, and new equipment purchase based on your projected usage and growth.

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