5 Ways IoT Integration is Revolutionizing Overhead Handling Equipment

Emily Newton
5 Ways IoT Integration is Revolutionizing Overhead Handling Equipment

The Internet of Things (IoT) technology is becoming increasingly common in heavy industries like construction and warehousing. While human-centered IoT solutions are emerging, machine-focused systems are among the most promising of these use cases. Overhead handling equipment, in particular, can gain a lot from IoT integration.

This equipment, whether in the form of cranes or in-facility material movers, is essential to many organizations’ productivity. At the same time, they can be dangerous and prone to breakdowns without the proper precautions. IoT connectivity addresses these shortcomings to get more out of these machines in several ways.

IoT & Overhead Handling Equipment

Remote Control

One of IoT overhead handling equipment’s biggest advantages is that operators can control them remotely. While manual hoists are largely a thing of the past, workers still must sit inside crane cabs or use wired control panels, putting them close to significant hazards. These dangers lead to an average of 42 crane-related workplace injuries annually.

IoT-connected cranes let operators control them via a connected device from a safe distance. Consequently, they face far fewer risks from this equipment. Remote control can also boost productivity, as workers don’t have to take time climbing up to and down from tall cabs.

As connectivity standards improve, latencies drop, making remote control all the more reliable. This added reliability will let construction teams or warehouses safely move away from cables, which can get in the way and cause tripping hazards.


The IoT also makes cranes and similar equipment safer. These safety improvements start with those stemming from remote control, but they don’t end there.

Connected overhead equipment can communicate with other IoT sensors to provide real-time warnings. Some construction firms use location data to prevent collisions between machinery or employees. As two proximity sensors near each other, they can trigger an audible alert. They can also stop equipment’s movement if they don’t stop after the warning, preventing an accident even if employees don’t respond.

Alerts about real-time performance concerns can further boost machine safety. IoT sensors could detect excessive strain or uneven loads and alert employees of the danger. Since this technology can pick up on signals before they’re visibly evident, it enables earlier detection to prevent accidents more effectively.

Improved Maintenance

Those real-time alerts can inform more cost-effective maintenance strategies. Preventive maintenance is essential to maintaining productivity and reducing repair costs. That means workers must regularly inspect fluid levels, belt conditions, and more, but this can be time-consuming and doesn’t always result in needed fixes.

IoT sensors enable more efficient condition-based maintenance. These devices monitor overhead handling equipment in real time to recognize when their performance indicates the need for repair. When those conditions arise, they alert employees to look into it.

This more targeted approach to maintenance removes the need to regularly inspect things manually, saving time. It can also catch growing issues earlier in their life cycle, which leads to lower repair costs and more reliable breakdown prevention.

Long-Term Improvements

IoT data is also valuable outside of real-time information. The longer organizations use IoT-connected material handling machinery, the more workflow and performance data they generate. Over time, this information can reveal larger trends to inform long-term process improvements.

Maintenance data can reveal when certain repair issues are most likely to arise. Having this data on hand lets businesses determine if crane operations strain their equipment too much, informing safer workflows to lengthen their machines’ life spans. Alternatively, similar trends could reveal if a particular machine’s repair needs have gotten frequent enough to warrant replacing it.

Granular, forward-thinking improvements like this are key to maximizing cost efficiency and remaining competitive in today’s market. It’s also only possible with sufficient data, which IoT connectivity provides.

Paving the Way for Automation

IoT integration in overhead handling equipment can also open the door for further automation. Repetitive tasks like material moving are ideal for automation, but many organizations haven’t capitalized on that opportunity yet. That’s partly because robots are typically not very adaptive, but the IoT changes that.

IoT sensors can provide automated cranes and other equipment with real-time information about what’s around them. That insight enables the AI models driving this machinery to adapt to changing circumstances to work efficiently, even without a predictable workflow.

Previous studies have found that automation can reduce workplace injuries by up to 72 percent in industrial facilities. Robots also work faster than humans and offset the labor shortages that plague these industries. Consequently, any technology that makes them a more viable option is worth considering.

Implementing IoT

Companies hoping to capitalize on these benefits should keep a few things in mind. Most notably, the IoT introduces unique security concerns. Now that construction, transportation, and manufacturing are among the most targeted industries for cybercrime, these vulnerabilities deserve attention.

Many IoT devices lack strong built-in protections and can serve as backdoors to more sensitive systems and data. A few best practices address these risks. First, organizations should segment their networks to keep IoT devices separate from other endpoints. Next, they should encrypt all IoT traffic and use real-time network monitoring technologies to prevent and respond to threats.

Businesses should also consider interoperability with any other IoT devices they use. There are more than 40 IoT protocols, so not every connected system will work seamlessly with one another. Organizations will minimize implementation problems and get more out of their investment if they look for smart overhead handling equipment compatible with their current tech stack.

Industrial facilities should also approach the IoT slowly to spread out costs and foster a faster ROI. Start with the use case that could benefit most from IoT connectivity, whether that’s remote control, collision detection, or any other of these applications. From there, wait until that project shows a positive return before expanding IoT implementation to other areas.

Overhead Handling Equipment Needs IoT

IoT integration in overhead handling equipment allows for the necessary safety, efficiency, and insight. Bringing these two technologies together can transform operations for construction, warehousing, and manufacturing companies.

As more organizations recognize these benefits, IoT connectivity could become standard in this kind of machinery. Getting ahead of that trend and investing in this technology today could be key to remaining competitive.

Emily Newton
Emily Newton - Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized | Industrial Content Writer, Revolutionized.com
I specialize in writing in-depth articles for the industrial and sci/tech sectors. In addition to my work for Revolutionized, my works have been published on Engineering.com, ReadWrite, and Global Trade Magazine. Please connect with me on LinkedIn!
I specialize in writing in-depth articles for the industrial and sci/tech sectors. In addition to my work for Revolutionized, my works have been published on Engineering.com, ReadWrite, and Global Trade Magazine. Please connect with me on LinkedIn!