Advanced Controls & Technology Improves Cranes

Cranes can be configured to suit the different needs of jobs—especially with the advent of new technologies such as telematics, cameras, and technologies related to lifting capacities. This makes the jobsite more efficient when it comes to both time and money.

Today, technology offers versatility, increased lifting power, and cost-efficient transport, which has become more important in recent years.

Chris Machut, chief technology officer, Netarus, says the most common technology on cranes today are “tools that increase situational awareness for the operator, providing the operator with information to increase safety and productivity in real time.”

Technology is helping on the jobsite in a number of different ways, but two of the key areas for crane operators are:

  • Creating greater efficiencies
  • Ensuring greater safety for workers

mobile craneThe Right Crane for the Job

While there are a number of different technologies on cranes today—from cameras to telematics—understanding how technology impacts the different types of cranes on the construction jobsite is critical.

As one example, terrain cranes are evolving. Terex offers this type of crane with the IC-1 Plus control system, which calculates lifting capacities for every position of the boom subject to the slewing angle of the superstructure.

“This enables operators to use the maximum lifting capacity especially when lifting over the outriggers,” explains Frank Schroder, director product management All Terrain Cranes, Terex. “The effect is even higher with reduced outrigger settings and reduced counterweight. Due to this real time calculation the lifting capacity for a defined radius is no longer limited to the minimum value of a pre-calculated 360 degree lifting capacity.”

He explains that capacities are calculated in real time in the cab. Another benefit of this technology is it offers and enhanced visualization to provide the crane operator with additional information on capacity in relation to boom position. The colored visualization of the work area capacity promotes efficient and safe use of the equipment.

The technology is customized to the needs of rough terrain operators and delivers precise and smooth control of swing movements and gives operators access to real time information for quick diagnostics in the field.

construction crane“The diagnostics include functional information for all primary operations, as well as information for the engine, electric, and hydraulic systems,” adds Michelle Respicio, global product marketing specialist, Terex. “The monitor displays full-text error codes for quick troubleshooting without the need to decode the problem.”

Looking at another type of crane, crawler cranes are also advancing in unique ways. On this type of equipment, Terex offers a Boom Booster, which is a kit that consists of lift-enhancing lattice boom sections with a 10 m width for the CC 8800-1 and a 3.50 m width for the CC 3800-1.

According to Ingo Noske, director product management Crawler Cranes, this increases the main boom stiffness of the cranes, which results in higher lift capacities.

“As the sections replace lighter structures, this can be retrofitted to existing models. All elements are transport-optimized,” Noske explains.

New Technology Coming to Cranes

In general, new technologies are helping equipment across construction jobsites become smarter. Case in point: telematics.

Berg Insight estimates that the global installed base of active construction equipment OEM (original-equipment manufacturer) telematics systems reached almost 1.8 million units in 2016 and the active installed base is estimated to reach 4.6 million units worldwide by 2021. This includes all telematics systems marketed by construction equipment OEMs, either developed in-house or provided in partnership with third-party telematics players.

Today, OEM telematics systems are commonly factory-installed as standard at least for heavier machines—and it is providing construction workers with the data to make informed, intelligent decisions about equipment.

Another growing trend in the construction industry is the use of technology to help make the jobsite a little bit safer. This is especially the case when working with construction equipment such as cranes. One unique example are industrial-grade video monitoring solutions to improve productivity and safety.

One solution is HoistCam from Netarus, which is a wireless camera system that places the eyes of the crane operator anywhere on the job. The platform provides remote monitoring, recording, and management analytics reporting to both operators and site supervisors.

“Safety and productivity go hand in hand when you consider that a camera provides an operator with an additional means of understanding his or her work environment,” explains Machut, Netarus. “Anecdotally, operators tell us they experience a 10 percent to 50 percent increase in productivity with cameras, depending on the type of equipment and task, especially when working in the blind.”

Cameras can provide operators with direct line of site of the load, allowing them to make more informed decisions. Operational responses are proactive versus reactive to hand or voice signals. However, this is an operator aid, explains Machut, and it is not a replacement for proper crane practices. Cameras should be used in conjunction with hand or voice signals.

“Never omit standard crane safety practices when using an operator aid,” suggests Machut. “Training and proper use of operator aids is critical to successful integration in crane operation procedures.”

When it comes to training on the new technology on cranes, many of the manufacturers offer a wide variety of operator trainings, tailored to specific machine types, applications, and regional standards.

For instance, at Terex, trainings are carried out with an intelligent mix of hands-on and classroom training using the latest technology, including state-of-the-art simulation tools.

Operators should use training to get to know the machines and learn about all the possibilities that new technologies can offer on cranes today.




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