Made in Eastern Iowa: Cranes of any size coming out of Cedar Falls

AFE Crane, in Cedar Falls, makes custom cranes to lift just about anything for a construction...
AFE Crane, in Cedar Falls, makes custom cranes to lift just about anything for a construction site. (KCRG)
Published: Feb. 12, 2018 at 8:36 AM CST
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A simple walk through AFE Crane, on Lincoln Street in Cedar Falls, reveals plenty of room to maneuver. That's critical as the cranes that come out of AFE are crafted to handle a specific-sized payload.

"We’ll do anything from half-ton cranes to big, 30-ton cranes that might span 120 feet," said Rich McInnis, an applications manager with AFE Crane.

This is a company that has been in place for about 35 years, at the same location. Formerly known as American Fabricators & Engineers, AFE Crane has an updated name to let people know the primary product. Engineers fill a second-floor office, working through the math to make the cranes work efficiently.

"We build overhead cranes for a variety of manufacturers, to assemble everything from combines and tractors to RVs and use them in foundries," said McInnis, "Anywhere you have to lift something large. A lot of this is mechanical engineering and we have to look at the loads on the cranes, check the strength materials and there’s a whole lot of regulations and standards. Everything we do meets those standards and there’s a fairly rigid manner of how we do this."

McInnis said about 35 people work in the Cedar Falls facility, including the adjacent Bruns Machine. AFE Crane has engineers also on opposite sides of the state, including Fort Dodge and Davenport.

A crane in 2018 is more advanced than even a few years ago. If a smartphone can purchase a pizza, a crane can also do more in this era.

"We’ve gotten a lot more into motor-type controls, variable type frequency controls," said McInnis. "So the cranes can run slowly, the hoist can run slowly, for spotting. A lot more into automation, where the cranes can go someplace, pick something up and put it down at another location. A lot in the electronic control innovation."

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