Regulations for new truck mounted articulating loader cranes are tightening in a bid to improve safety and prevent common accidents. The new A3 amendment of the EN 12999 European Standard for loader cranes requires that units with a maximum working load of 1 tonne or more must be fitted with monitoring systems on the main supports or stabiliser legs. The standard also requires that interlocks be fitted to prevent load handling when they are not deployed correctly and further sensors must be used to show when stabilisers and cranes are stowed for travelling. A visual and audible warning must also be visible from the transport driving position to alert the operator when these conditions are not met.
As a result of the new EN 12999 standard, stabiliser monitoring systems have become an important feature in the design of articulating loader cranes. Italian manufacturer F.lli Ferrari, for example, will introduce a new stability control system named FL to its articulating loader crane range, which improves control of the crane and makes operations safer, the company said.
Palfinger has also met this demand with its high performance stability control (HPSC) system, which calculates the working range from 0 to 360 degrees for any stabiliser situation. The system uses sensors to monitor the vehicle’s stability based on the crane and vehicle’s real-time data to enable the positioning of the stabilisers. The crane’s lifting power is then adjusted depending on its stability and the position of the crane boom. Palfinger has incorporated the HPSC system into the PK 110002 SH, a loader crane which has a lifting moment of 98.5 tonne-metres and can have up to nine hydraulic extensions. It has an hydraulic outreach of 22 metres and up to 32.5 m when configured with the fly jib.
Fitted in the 200 tonne-metre PK 200002 L SH, the largest model in the Palfinger range, is a quadruple stabiliser system. It is monitored by sensors and an additional front stabiliser and an extendable rear stabiliser have been built into the crane’s frame. “The stabiliser system features stabiliser cylinders that can be tilted upwards to easily overcome obstacles such as walls and fences. All functions are controlled by the operator remotely,” explains a Palfinger spokesperson.
The PK 200002 L SH can have up to eight hydraulic extensions and its hydraulic outreach is 25.6 m. Configured with the PJ 300 L fly jib, the crane offers a lifting height of more than 49 m. Other latest products from Palfinger that include the HPSC system are the PK 10002 SH and the PK 12502 SH. Both cranes have five hydraulic extensions and an hydraulic outreach of 14.1 m. Maximum load moments are 9.4 and 11.4 tonne-metres, respectively.
Also from Palfinger is the PK 23002 SH, which has a maximum lifting moment of 21 tonne-metres. Up to six hydraulic extensions allow it to achieve an hydraulic outreach of 17.1 m. It includes the safety function HPSC, which can be controlled using radio remote control. Information about operating conditions, for example, capacity usage, active systems, and service times, is displayed on an LCD display. In addition, the position of the supports can be precisely visualised, a company spokesperson adds.
Manufacturer Hiab, which is part of Cargotec, has met the regulations with its Variable Stability Limit (VSL) function. It works first by registering the stability of the crane in accordance with how far stabiliser extensions are extended and whether the legs are set firmly on the ground. The capacity is then altered according to the crane’s stability.
The new Hiab XS 544, which was launched at Bauma 2013, has this stability function to help make the crane safer for the operator and those around it. It is managed by a system called SPACE, a computer that assists the operator to safely use the crane.
Further stability is included in the design by side supports, which are fitted on each boom extension to stabilise the boom laterally. This helps minimise play, a Hiab spokesperson says. Like most Hiab models, extension side supports can also be delivered with the crane.
Features of the 51 tonne-metre rated XS 544 include a 24 m outreach. Configured with a jib the crane has a vertical reach of 35 m and the boom can be angled between 10 and 35 degrees. The XS 544 also includes the HiPro manoeuvre system, which allows smoother operation and more precise handling, the company says.
With stability becoming increasingly important, especially concerning worker safety, crane manufacturer Atlas has given its latest cranes wider outrigger spread. The 172.3E and the V-boom cranes 183.3 V, 104.3 V and 129.3 V, all have a centralised column for better weight distribution and overall stability.
Atlas is also working towards using a CAN-bus system, as a company spokesperson explains, “Following the implementation and compliance with the safety requirements of EN 12999, our research and development is heading towards a CAN-bus system. The new software will continually monitor the support legs and, after entering the vehicle data, mounting position and crane data into the system, the ACM-software will monitor in real time the support position, working position and utilisation of the crane. It will then verify the stability in accordance with the settings.”
Implementing new standards into existing crane models is affecting the design of articulating loader cranes. Updated models tend to be light weight, have better lift-to-weight ratios than existing models, longer reach and reduced mounting-space requirements. There is, however, a feeling that articulating loader cranes are becoming increasingly complicated as a result of EU regulations.
“It is no doubt that the safety of the operator must have highest priority, but when numerous safety and emergency elements affect practical work, all parties involved should think about what technical requirements are actually reasonable and practical,” explains Fil Filipov, Atlas owner. “Manufacturers should think about whether it is desirable to equip a loading crane with even more technical features, making it prone to repair, more costly and operator unfriendly.”
In some circumstances, however, end users do not encounter the maximum working loads that would lead to EN 12999 being relevant, explains Richard Short, Penny Hydraulics sales director. As a result, they don’t need the “added complexity and potential reliability issues that computer controlled systems offered by some to comply with the new legislation would bring.”
As Short, continues, however, customers still require the performance to handle a wide range of loads safely, simply and economically. To meet this demand, Penny Hydraulics has introduced the SwingLift FV995 vehicle mounted crane. Maximum working load is 995 kg so it does not require the additional interlocks demanded by the EN 12999 European Standard. It does, however, come with load sensing and limiting devices as standard.
A device to monitor load moment has been introduced by Iowa Mold Tooling (IMT), an Oshkosh company based in the USA. The manufacturer has incorporated its rated capacity limiter (RCL) type 5300 on all its articulating crane models.
“The RCL system monitors the crane’s load moment, operation and function. In an overload situation, the system warns the operator and interrupts the distribution of oil for crane functions, while allowing functions that reduce load moment to remain operational,” John Field, IMT material handling product manager, explains.
IMT has also announced new cranes in the 40 and 50 tonne-metre ranges. The 40/275 offers a capacity of 8,630 kg, while the 50/345 delivers 10,360 kg. Both can have up to eight hydraulic extensions for maximum horizontal reaches of 21.3 and 21.4 m, respectively. The minimised dimensions and lower weight of these cranes allow for additional truck configuration possibilities and increased payload, the company says. IMT articulating cranes are built to conform to the US ANSI B30.5 standard.
“The new 40 tonne metre and 50 tonne metre articulating crane models meet customer demand for particular lift and reach capabilities, minimized space requirements, robust safety features, ease of maintenance and low maintenance costs,” said John Field at IMT.
Other new cranes available from Italy are the new Amco Veba 120 and 123 models, which are 20 and 23 tonne-metre class cranes. To meet market demands the cranes are compact with low design weight and greater capacity, the company says.
The latest models from Italian manufacturer F.lli Ferrari are the 990R A8J4 and the Model 729. The 990R A8J4 has eight hydraulic extensions, a second boom and a four hydraulic extension jib. The new model can lift 650 kg at nearly 30 m. The 729 is a 27 tonne-metre class crane, available with up to eight hydraulic extensions and in two jib versions, A4J4 and A6J4. As standard it has the Red Power double linkage system and it is available with radio remote control.
With new safety standards and updated operator-friendly devices, articulating loader cranes will continue to develop with systems to help the operator use them more safely. in terms of new cranes, Amco Veba, for example, has plans to expand its 900 series with 29 tonne-metre and 27 tonne-metre models. These two will have SDD (Soft Descent Drive), AVPS (Amco Veba Power System), SGS (Sprint Generation System), and the EBB (Electronic Black Box). There will also be a wide range of optional stabilisers, the manufacturer says. F.lli Ferrari will introduce 13 and 15 tonne-metre models with double power linkage, new stability systems and advanced design technology that will allow building lighter cranes with longer outreach, a company spokesperson says. At Atlas there are plans to expand the .3 crane generation. Details of this and other new products will follow as they become available.
Another area of the loader crane sector under the spotlight is the British Standard BS 7121 Part 2 (Inspection, Maintenance and Thorough Examination), which has been undergoing a detailed revision for about 18 months. For the first time a more distinct separation has been made depending on crane types. It has resulted in a modular Standard covering each sector in significantly more detail, e.g. BS 7121 Part 2-1 (General), BS 7121 Part 2-3 (Mobile Cranes) and BS 7121 Part 2-4 (Loader Cranes).
Alan Johnson, technical director at the UK’s Association of Lorry Loader Manufacturers and Importers (ALLMI) has represented the Association on Working Group MHE/3/11, the panel formed by BSI to address the issues of crane safety and testing. “The modular approach to constructing this Standard means that each industry sector can provide far more detailed guidance and recommendations in relation to that particular type of crane. Furthermore, it permits a much greater emphasis on the requirements for effective maintenance, which we strongly endorse,” Johnson explains.
Certain parts of the new Standard have already been released, including the general section, mobile cranes, tower cranes, and overhead travelling cranes. IC will provide an update on all the developments of the British Standard BS 7121 Part 2 revision as it becomes available.