Solving common lifting problems with new technologies from Konecranes
Let’s say you are in the manufacturing business, and your crews use overhead cranes daily to manufacture, handle, pack and ship your products. If you had the option of making their workflow safer, faster and more productive, at a relatively small incremental cost to your company, would you do it?
Before you make a decision, let’s look at some scenarios.
By Jussi Luokomaa, Product Manager
Difficulty centering hook
A new crane operator is rigging a load for shipment. Unfamiliar and inexperienced with operating a crane, they correct and re-correct the position of the hook, rapidly plugging the controls and repeatedly overshooting the load. Getting the hook in the right position takes several minutes. While this is going on, three other workers waiting for the load at the shipping bay stand idle. Frustrated with the time it has taken to center the hook and rig the load, the operator finally sends it off with a jerk.
Load snags on adjacent items
Our inexperienced operator can’t catch a break. Side-pull on the imperfectly centered load causes it to swing and snag a neighboring crate full of products awaiting shipment. As the trolley continues to move, the snagged crate falls over and items spill out on the shop floor. The load exhibits evidence of impact.
Need to quickly reposition hook
After calling for assistance, the unhappy operator unhooks the damaged crate. Once again struggling with the radio controls, they attempt to send the hook out of the way so that others have room to work cleaning up the mess. His manager is now on the phone with the customer, explaining that the order may be delayed.
Not a pretty picture. Fortunately, there is a better way using proven, cost-effective technologies developed by global lifting leader Konecranes.
Konecranes Rope Angle Features module
Hook Centering, Snag Prevention and Follow Me are the three key players in Konecranes Rope Angle Features – a triad of cost-saving, labor-saving and safety improvement technologies that are revolutionizing how lifting equipment is staffed and operated. Each of the scenarios outlined above could have been prevented if these features had been available to the operator.
Konecranes Rope Angle Features module can be purchased as an option when ordering a new crane, or it can be added to existing Konecranes equipment that you already own. Rope Angle Features operate through continuous measurement of the rope angle from the crane to the load. This is accomplished by an inclinometer attached to the rope near the trolley, which uses software to communicate with the crane and optimize its movements in each situation we outlined above. Generally, when the rope angle exceeds a preset angle (usually around 4 degrees), the inclinometer triggers the software to take a preventive or corrective action.
Hook Centering: how it works
Hook Centering improves and shortens lifting cycle times quite significantly. Each process has its own opportunity threshold for improvement, but it can be as much as 50% compared to the process without this feature. Put simply, the rigger attaches the hook to the load, and pushes the button. The trolley automatically centers itself over the load by measuring the rope angle until it is vertical, greatly reducing side pull because it positions the bridge and trolley directly over the load. Only then is the crane allowed to start lifting the load. In our example, the time saved attempting to center the hook for rigging would impact not only the rigger, but also other workers waiting downstream in the lifting cycle. Another bonus: the expected lifetime of the crane components, such as hoist reeving parts, are significantly extended because of reduced wear on the components.
Snag Prevention: how it works
First and foremost a safety feature, the main principle of Snag Prevention is that by monitoring the rope angle, the crane is able to detect a collision when the load impacts or snags an obstacle. This stops the crane’s forward movement. While it is not able to avoid the collision entirely, it does prevent further damage from occurring, significantly reducing the potential for injury or loss. Action is triggered when the rope angle reaches a certain preset point. In the example above, very likely the crane would have stopped before the first crate was damaged, or the second crate tipped over and spilled. By simply backing up and repositioning, the load could have been on its way to shipping with no collateral damage.
Follow Me: how it works
This feature allows the crane operator to grab the hook and easily walk the crane wherever it is needed. After the software detects the rope angle, the crane follows the operator wherever he or she goes. This feature is most useful on cranes rated at 10,000 kg or less, as the empty hook does not require much strength to move. Follow Me is suited to a process where the crane needs to be routinely moved to new locations quickly, safely and effectively, significantly improving cycle times. In our original scenario, the operator could have quickly moved the hook out of the way for cleanup.
The challenge is real. Let technology help.
Most lifting supervisors are all too familiar with the staffing challenges manufacturers face today. Unfortunately, the scenarios we outlined at the beginning of this article aren’t unusual. Operator turnover is greater than in the past, and experienced operators are not always available to train and supervise new hires. So, what’s the smart solution?
Konecranes Rope Angle Features can improve the safety and cycle times of routine processes quite significantly, at a relatively low cost. They can reduce damage to loads, the crane and other machinery, while reducing wear on crane components. Sold as standard equipment on Konecranes S-Series hoists, this module can also be added to other Konecranes models that you already own. The Rope Angle Features module is available for any capacity, although the convenience feature Follow Me works best on lower-capacity cranes.
If you are ready to improve safety and cycle times at your facility while making your crane last longer, contact us. By analyzing your existing process, we can help identify areas where Rope Angle Features can make a real difference on your bottom line.