„Replacing the crane runway is like open-heart surgery“

Prof. Dr.-Eng. Seeßelberg speaks about crane runways and building in existing contexts

Numerous crane runways in the Federal Republic of Germany are getting on in years. At the same time, they are considered the lifeblood of many industrial operations. Against this background, crane runway expert Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christoph Seeßelberg from Munich University of Applied Sciences talks about today's safety standards with regard to fatigue, clever concepts for dealing with existing crane runways and strategic decisions facing operators.


Good day, Mr Seeßelberg. Crane runway girders are simple structural systems. Nevertheless, they are considered special load-bearing structures in steel construction. Why is that?

Seeßelberg: Although crane runway girders are actually just a straight piece of steel, they deserve special attention for five reasons. Firstly, because the crane moves across the girder, the loads are dynamic and constantly acting at a different point. This leads to the problem of stiff load transfer, as every point on the beam is a potential load transfer point. Thirdly, we have to deal with extremely complex stability cases. Fourthly, serviceability plays an incredibly important role. In about half of all newly built crane girders, the cross-section is determined by the deflection limit. And last but not least, special attention must be paid to the fatigue aspect of a crane runway girder.

These special features are accompanied by challenges in the planning, construction and maintenance of crane girders. In view of current trends and developments, what challenges are currently shaping your work?

Seeßelberg: In addition to helping to draw up the successor standards in the field of crane runway eurocodes, I am currently particularly concerned with the ageing industrial infrastructure in Germany. This includes crane girders, many of which were built between the 1950s and 1980s. The targeted service life of a crane girder of 25 years has therefore been exceeded in many places. Consequently, we have to think about clever concepts for the proper handling of existing crane runways. The topic of building in existing contexts plays an overriding role here.

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