Metal work

04 March 2008

The industrial lifting market is buoyant. Plenty of work is being found for bridge, gantry and small pick and carry cranes in the usual industrial sectors, including metal production, power generation and even leisure.

Demag Cranes AG gives an illuminating insight into the sector in its results for the 2006 to 2007 financial year. In a year-on-year comparison, the company says its industrial cranes and services segment achieved excellent results and exceeded expectations. The demand for standard and process cranes, in particular, led to a 20.3% increase in order intake to € 575.4 million (US$ 841.8 million). Revenues grew by 8.1 % to € 485.4 million ($ 710.2 million). Adjusted EBIT more than doubled compared to the previous 12 months – in a 118.5% leap – to € 23.6 million ($ 34.5 million). “This development is thanks to improved profits for almost all product lines.” The number of employees also grew by 2.5% at the company during the financial period to 5,813, across the group. “During the period under review, the number of employees grew significantly in nearly all segments. Faced with a sharp increase in production volume, we have mainly focused on hiring specialist staff in production, customer service and other services.”

In its forecast for 2007 to 2008, the company says sales volumes should continue to grow worldwide. This is likely to amount to group revenues of between € 1.13 billion ($ 1.65 billion) and € 1.16 billion ($ 1.7 billion), while EBIT is also forecast to increase to about € 110 million ($ 161 million) from € 94.6 million ($ 138.5 million) last financial year.

Metal expansion

Overhead crane and hoist manufacturer Street Crane, based in the UK, is also positive about its future.

“The UK market is currently very buoyant with sales up around 14% this year compared to last. Sectors that seem to be particularly keen to invest include construction, partly driven by the move to offsite techniques.” comments Gus Zona.

This includes the leisure industry, in which Street has just completed work for Princess Yachts, with jobs in hand for Fairline Boats, both of which are based in the UK. Power generation is also proving profitable for the company, both in the domestic and international markets.

Future work will be driven by the expansion in metals, explains Zona. “The aluminium industry continues to build new capacity with year-by-year investment. After a pause in recent years in investment from the steel and heavy engineering sector, we are also seeing increasing interest from steel producers, distributors and galvanizers in more sophisticated and higher specification cranes.

Overall, Zona adds that manufacturers are showing greater confidence and “investing in new capacity with better specification cranes to help them achieve higher performance.”

On an international level, Street managing director Andrew Pimblett says the trend towards consolidation will continue. Konecranes, which already owns SWF, Verlinde and R&M, has absorbed Stahl and Morris. “This means that there is less real choice for EOTC users in the UK because these cranes will be badge-engineered versions of the same product. This benefits Street Crane enormously because we can offer a different analysis of client needs and a genuinely different solution,” Pimblett says.

Consolidation also benefits the company internationally, he adds, as it can offer partnership deals to other independent national and regional crane builders.

In 2008 Street will increase its product range by extending the ZX hoist series to 50 tonne maximum capacity. The custom-built VX range will also be expanded to include a 200 tonne capacity model. Other products are also in the pipeline, adds Pimblett.

“Looking to 2008 and beyond, the picture is mixed. We anticipate some problems. Last year the world economy was very buoyant but there are now signs of a downturn, the state of the US economy and the credit crunch, for example. Overall, however, we are confident that the expanding market coverage and growing network of distributors and local manufacturing partners mean that we are well placed to more than offset any downturn in any particular market,” Pimblett adds.

Pick and carry

Ormig SpA, in Italy, has manufactured mobile industrial pick and carry cranes since 1949. Gian Paolo Aschero, at the company, says the cranes are particularly useful for moving loads in industrial settings and for pick and travel operations with a hooked load.

“Important features are the reduced overall dimensions compared with high performance and the ability to work in small spaces. Pick and carry cranes offer easy manoeuvrability, which is an important aspect for rental and services companies,” comments Aschero.

Ormig's current range includes cranes with lifting capacities from 10 to 60 tonnes, with diesel or electric power, that comply with anti-pollution regulations. Aschero adds that that the cranes can be equipped with attachments including jibs, forks, hooks and jaws, “to offer a great versatility for every operator's requirement.”

The company's most recent model is the 16tmE electric crane, with 16 tonnes maximum lifting capacity. The main benefits of the model, says Aschero, are its reduced overall height, short track and rear wheel steering angle of 70 degrees with reduced steering radius. “The crane also offers a remarkable lifting performance, with 2.1 tonne capacity at 7 m outreach.”

The boom has two hydraulic extensions, with double action cylinders, bringing the crane to a total height of 12 m.

Las Vegas

Showing at this year's biggest construction exhibition, ConExpo in the US, will be the latest industrial cranes from Manitowoc. The Grove YardBoss YB4409-2 and the Shuttlelift 3339 will both be in the iron at the Las Vegas Convention Centre, from March 11 to 15.

The YB4409-2 fits between two other YardBoss models, the 8.5 US ton (7.6 tonne) capacity YB4409 and the 10.5 US ton (9.4 tonne) YB4411 models. “Its design comes from the cost-effective chassis from the YB4409, joined with the upper portion of the YB4411. The result is a higher capacity, more functional crane,” said Tom McCallum, director of industrial crane sales.

The model offers a three-section main boom, almost 32 feet (9.8 m) long, with an optional off-settable swingaway jib, which provides an extra 19 feet (5.8 m) of reach. According to McCallum the model has an 8 foot (2.4 m) reach advantage over other cranes in its class. He adds that the maximum load can be carried through 360 degrees, with lower ground bearing pressure thanks to a 10% larger outrigger pad, compared to others in its category.

The Shuttlelift 3339 also has a maximum lifting capacity of 9 US tons (8 tonnes) and features a three-section hydraulic boom and continuous boom rotation. It is powered by a 99 hp Cummins QSB 3.3L turbo charged diesel engine.

“The 3339's wireless, load-sensing indicator system is battery powered, eliminating the potential for wire damage during operation. This system exceeds requirements for load-sensing indicators on industrial cranes of this size, without the cost of hard-wired systems.”

Power plant

Konecranes UK won a Siemens AG contract to supply two cranes for the Az Zour gas turbine power plant extension in Kuwait. The extension project was awarded by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Energy in August 2007 to Siemens Power Generation Consortium.

Konecranes initially supplied 27 cranes for the first phase of the 1,000 megawatt capacity Az Zour plant, which was completed in 2005. Now the company will supply two 170 tonne cranes, and a 320 tonne lifting beam for tandem lifting, as part of the extension of the site.

In the US, Konecranes America recently launched the CXT1, a low headroom electric wire rope hoist. The hoist, which expands the CXT range, is aimed at 1 to 2 US ton (0.9 to 1.8 tonne) lifting applications. “The CXT1 is a perfect replacement hoist for existing bridge cranes, jibs and monorail applications and is also the preferred solution for new one and two US ton single girder top and under running industrial bridge cranes,” comments a Konecranes spokesperson.

CXT1 hoists are designed with larger diameter drums and true lift reeving for longer rope life and accurate load positioning. The hoisting duty-related lifting motor of the CXT1 comes standard with class-F insulation, 60% effective duty rating, a heavy-duty DC hoist brake and two-speed operation of the hoist and trolley, adds the company.

Explosive environments

Continuing the Konecranes CXT product line is the hazardous location hoist and crane. The product is designed to work in potentially dangerous locations where explosions are a possibility, for example, in chemical and petrochemical plants, oil refineries, gas power plants and waste-water treatment plants. “They cover a wide range of lifting capabilities, hoist duty groups and bridge and trolley types for applications up to 80 US tons (71 tonnes),” said the company.

The cranes are available in single and double girder construction, with a profile or fabricated box girder design, depending on the crane span. The hoist provides the regular benefits of the CXT, with two speed operations, as well as having the required safety certification. This includes the cCSAua for Class 1 Division 2 – groups C and D, and temperature class T3 environments with capacities up to 40 US tons (35.7 tonnes) ATEX certification is available for hoists with higher capacities.

The company offers hazardous location manual and electric chain hoists in capacities up to 5 US tons (4.5 tonnes). Additional features can also be provided, for example, bronze or bronze coated wheels, hooks and drop lugs.

Non-contact

Continuing on the safety theme, are the benefits of using non-contact power transfer systems for overhead loads, which reduces the danger of sparks between the connections. Energy transmission systems company Wampfler, based in Germany, manufactures the IPT, which uses inductive technology. “Using this system no mechanical or electrical connections are necessary for power and data transfer. Conveying equipment thereby becomes widely immune to environmental influences. Mechanical wear, traditionally one of the main causes for maintenance costs, is practically eliminated,” explains Mathias Wechlin, IPT product manager.

Wampfler's inductive system consists of a primary and secondary part. These are electromagnetically coupled similar to a transformer, except that is across an air gap without mechanical or electrical contact. The primary part consists of a track supply, which converts the 50 to 60 Hz line input into a 20 kHz output current. A cable carries the current along the path of electrification, which produces a 20 kHz magnetic field around it. It is this magnetic field density which enables the efficient transfer of energy across the air gap, explains Wampfler.

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