Petrochemical plants processing coke are the ideal environment for crane automation. While full automation is still some years away at most plants, Konecranes semi-automated coker cranes come with a PLC, modern D2V inverter controls and signal cables as standard – virtually everything you need for full (or remote) automation in the future.
Konecranes has been the provider of choice for coker cranes around the world since the late 1990s. Proprietary load control technologies such as DynAPilot sway control, DynAGrab for hoist/bucket control and DynAReg energy recovery use some of the same tools that automation does.
Therefore, if you have had these Smart Features installed to improve safety, reliability and productivity, you have also acquired some of the base hardware and software needed to automate most crane functions.
Coke handling lends itself well to automation. Whatever the stage of the process - hot and fresh or cool and de-watered - the movement of coke is a highly repetitive action. The crane can do all this at the push of a button, while the operator supervises from the air-conditioned cab. Moving in a predetermined pattern, the crane bucket clears the area with no wasted motion, even in poor visibility.
When an automated crane starts to dig in an empty space, a preprogrammed subroutine takes over. The crane can alert the operator, or it can move on to a new task, such as cleaning the settling pit.
A long, tedious job like cleaning is no problem for the computer system. The crane’s computer can’t sneeze and bump into the pit wall, or lose attention because of the repetitive nature of the task. The crane does precisely what it is told to do - nothing more, and nothing less.
Full Automation or Semi-automation?
When developing an automated system, we work very closely with you to identify and plan all of the things that automation should do, including possible alternate process flows. But there is always something that no one could anticipate. So manual control must always be available. Your operator can resolve the problem, then turn automation back on.
To establish manual control, your operator can go out to the crane cabin or, if one is available, use a console at the Remote Operating Station (ROS).
You have three levels of automation available to you. The highest level is full automation, common in other industries but not yet typical for coker cranes. Full automation performs without direct human interaction, and can potentially be handled from a ROS. Operators monitor the system and assist it with tasks that are easier for a human to perform, while automation handles everything else.
Semi-automation automates selected tasks whenever the operator engages the system. Otherwise, the operator has manual control.
Manual control gives full control of the crane to the human operator.
Reducing stress on people and machines
Konecranes’ proprietary load control technologies are software programs that operate in the background of our coker cranes, making the operator’s job safer, easier and reducing fatigue.
DynAGrab synchronizes the hoisting machinery, sharing the load properly, reducing overloads and lengthening rope and mechanical component life.
DynATrak controls skew, reducing wheel and rail wear and decreases stress on wheels, bearings, rails, rail attachments and support structures.
DynAPilot controls sway, reducing collisions with hoppers and pit walls, resulting in less damage to buckets, hoppers and the pit.
In addition, Konecranes CMS Monitoring software provides equipment status and alarms and can archive that information for use in maintenance planning and trouble-shooting. TRUCONNECT® Remote Support gives 24/7 access to a global network of crane experts and specialists for problem solving and troubleshooting.
You can choose any or all of these to be part of your automated crane system.
Innovating while playing it safe
Automation can greatly improve safety by keeping personnel away from hazardous areas and helping to prevent operator fatigue. It also allows operators to share tasks, and even operate multiple cranes, increasing efficiency. While most coker units currently operate a semi-automated crane, there is no question that full automation could improve operations even further. Automatically clearing fresh coke for cooling allows the next load to arrive faster, scanners can accurately check the status of coke stacks, and moving them on to further processing becomes as easy as the press of a button.
If you install a semi-automated Konecranes coker crane today, it already comes equipped with most of the sensors, devices and other hardware needed for full automation. With the addition of a little software and some small technical adjustments, your coker crane can be fully automated tomorrow.