Spanco PF-Series Gantry Crane Aids St. Louis University Engineering Project


McLaughlin Hoist and Crane is a Spanco dealer based in the St. Louis, Missouri area. They provide a wide range of material handling services, including new installations, repair work, inspections, upgrades, and modernization of overhead lifting equipment. When the St. Louis University (SLU) engineering department was in need of a material handling system, they approached McLaughlin Hoist and Crane to find a solution for their needs.

Engineering students were planning to conduct a project studying structural support members. This project includes designing, fabricating, and testing actual structural members. The testing requires a specialized press that was designed to stress the members to their breaking point. To complete this project, the engineering department required material handling capability for two processes; first, the press had to be assembled in the testing facility. Then, when the fabricated structural members were ready for testing, they would need to be lifted into the press.


McLaughlin Hoist and Crane was able to provide SLU with a single system that met the requirements for both needs. John, the president of McLaughlin Hoist and Crane, met with SLU staff to begin evaluating the situation. After assessing the facility, John determined that the facility structure wouldn’t support a ceiling-mounted crane system.

The engineering department also explained that the current engineering lab may move to a larger building in the future. They decided they needed to find a solution that wouldn’t be completely permanent so that it could be relocated if necessary. With these restrictions in mind, John recommended that the engineering department install a five-ton Spanco PF-Series Gantry Crane.

The system was selected to maximize the space efficiency within the SLU facility. The 30-foot span and 26-foot, 7-1/2-inch overall height fit perfectly inside the limits of the facility. These dimensions provide a full 25-foot Height under Beam, which allows the users to get the most lifting capacity out of the space. The customer also needed all motions to be motorized but didn’t want rails on the floor because they would cause a trip hazard. The gantry utilizes a Spanco Trackless Drive, which allows the system to run directly on the concrete floor with only an angle iron guide along the exterior wall to direct gantry travel.


The new Spanco PF-Series Gantry Crane checks all of the boxes on the SLU engineering program’s needs. The system’s custom size allows students working on the structural member program to use the facility to its full potential. The trackless drive system also allowed McLaughlin Hoist and Crane to place the guide rail along the facility’s exterior wall so that it wasn’t a trip hazard. These features make the system safe, efficient, and easy to use for the people working in the engineering lab.

With the five-ton gantry crane, they were able to assemble the press quickly and easily. The system also supplies adequate lifting capacity for all of the structural members that are fabricated for the project. Additionally, with the possibility that the system could be relocated in the future, pouring foundations and erecting a fixed crane support structure wasn’t a practical option. Spanco Gantry Cranes don’t require specialized foundations or significant alterations to be installed, which made the PF-Series Gantry Crane ideal for SLU’s situation.