The Western Zirconium Plant, part of the Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC, nuclear fuel business, produces zirconium, hafnium, and zircaloy for commercial nuclear power and other industrial applications.
Preventing a major breakdown
Running at a single high speed on contactor controls, a 10-ton bridge crane at Western Zirconium made abrupt starts and stops. This stressed the gear case mounts on the bridge and led to more frequent, though brief, shutdowns for repairs.
To address both safety and production concerns, Rob Carlson of New Business Development for Konecranes, recommended installing dual drives and replacing the contactor controls with variable frequency drive controls. This would enable the crane to ramp up slowly and stop gradually, reducing wear and tear and preventing downtime.
Konecranes, which conducts annual inspections on 16 cranes at Western Zirconium, also worked with Chris Anderson, manufacturing engineer at the plant, to correct misalignment of the trolley on the crane. The misalignment was wearing down the trolley wheel flanges, made worse by the abrupt starts and stops. Konecranes technicians installed new wheels and a new drive for the trolley. At the same time, the technicians discovered a worn out gear and were able to quickly order and install a replacement to keep the crane in operation.
“They’ve been very responsive and have been able to get the parts we need and help us find solutions,” Anderson said.