Below the hook: no strain, no gain
28 November 2017
Indications are that the below the hook sector is thriving. In the UK, for example, wire rope manufacturer Rope and Sling Specialists (RSS) has just opened a sixth facility in Warrington, only a year after opening one near Heathrow airport, London. The latest opening marks a step closer to RSS’s managing director, Steve Hutin, fulfilling his declared goal of having ten facilities to provide below-the-hook coverage across the UK.
RSS says it is receiving a lot of work from the power industry. This includes inspecting lifting equipment at the Ferrybridge Power Station Multifuel 2 project in West Yorkshire, UK, and providing below-the-hook equipment for inspection and test procedure work during the decommissioning of Chapelcross, Scotland’s first commercial nuclear station.
UK-based below-the-hook equipment manufacturer and lifting engineering specialist Modulift reports that it has seen an increase in demand for super heavy lifting equipment over the past three years. The company has, so far, sold two 1500 tonne spreader beams in 2017. Modulift has also seen an increased demand for custom lifting products. As a result, it has invested heavily in its engineering team and now has a specialist department to deal with customised requests which, it says, are becoming more frequent.
An increasing demand for customisation is also reported by Brazil-based cargo handling specialist IPS Engenharia de Rigging. “It is with the customer’s needs in mind that we develop our devices,” declares Adriano Inguanti, the company’s director. “If the issues of design, modularisation and versatility are important to our customers, we will use all our experience to develop the necessary devices.”
Further evidence of the health of the below-the-hook sector is seen in the wide range of new products being launched onto the market. For example, one of Modulift’s latest products is the MOD CLS Adjustable Lifting/Spreader Beam. It utilises a clamp system, which Modulift says provides a safe, fast and adjustable beam, whilst also enabling users to lift from multiple points.
The clamps can be pre-assembled on the beam and are provided with markers to show alignment and the centre of the lift. Clamps on the top side of the beam are of a larger rating and size than the two clamps fitted to the underside of the beam.
If required, up to four additional clamps can be added to the underside of the beam. The MOD CLS is currently available in one size, with a capacity of up to 8.5 tonnes. It is stocked as a boxed product that’s on-the-shelf in the warehouse ready for immediate shipping, says Modulift.
US manufacturer Tandemloc has launched the Tandemloc Modular Autoloc – a mechanically-operated container spreader frame used to lift ISO containers from the top corner fittings without the use of ground personnel to lock or unlock the corner locking twistlocks. Tandemloc says the Modular Autoloc is unique in its ability to be broken down and shipped within an ISO container or even a common carrier trailer. This is possible due to a simple pin-together assembly designed to reduce setup and disassembly times. Once disassembled, it has a small footprint enabling it to be stored in small spaces.
The mechanical twistlock system is driven entirely by the crane operator with minimal to no ground assistance, says Tandemloc. In addition, the system is scalable, and can be configured as a 20’ or 40’ spreader by utilising different length struts.
Active rotation control
Marine cargo and offshore load handling specialist MacGregor has developed an active rotation control (ARC) system for its range of cranes which it says stabilises and automatically rotates a load in the air. By being able to position loads accurately users can save time and money, MacGregor says.
To control rotation the system has an automatic swivel control that maintains the cargo’s position during the entire operation, MacGregor explains. When activated, cargo positioning times can be shortened by up to 30 percent, the company claims. Shorter positioning times and a smooth drive lower energy consumption and increase efficiency, it adds. The ARC system also minimises risk, as workers no longer need to attach wire to a load and pull it into position. The system has a dedicated control box with two controls: one to set the start position and one to set the end position. A joystick is used for fine-tuning cargo positioning.
MacGregor has received an order from Chinese shipyard Yangzijiang to equip five 62,000 dwt open hatch bulk carriers with 20 cranes (four per vessel) with active rotation control. “Our ARC system enables faster load handling, reduces cargo damage and delivers considerable energy savings,” comments Leif Byström, senior vice president, cargo handling, MacGregor.
French company Smart Jobsite is launching the Smart Shackle. The company says it is the first accurate load measuring system that can provide values directly to a smartphone rather than a dedicated device. Replacing the dedicated device with an iOS or Android smartphone not only significantly reduces the price of the system, says Smart Jobsite, it also enables users to manage the information differently. One of the company’s founders, Jean-Charles Delplace, explains, “We offer the ability to monitor and record picks; for example: where it took place; when it took place; the exact load or load type that was involved; how long the lift was, etc. The information is transferred into a cloud in real-time and can be accessed anywhere, at any time, securely on any device. This is a great feature to be able to remotely monitor or report activities on jobsites. Furthermore, multiple shackles can be displayed on one or more smartphones. This is of use, for example, in supervising tandem lifts in real-time.”
Smart Shackle is both accurate (up to 0.02%) and tough, says Smart Jobsite. “It’s water resistant up to 20 m (IP68), dust resistant, and drop resistant up to 5 m. We are using innovative composite technology from the automotive racing industry to provide that level of ruggedness,” elaborates Delplace. To enhance durability the product is completely sealed and power by a non-rechargeable battery. There are no buttons to push to turn it on or off. To ensure a battery life of over ten years (based on two hours of use per day) the Smart Shackle remains in ‘sleep’ mode most of the time, being ‘woken’ by the app when required. The typical line-of-sight range of the SmartShackle is 100 m although the company reports a range of up to 200 m on some smartphones, whilst retaining a good battery life.
Spanish hook manufacturer Elebia has launched a new remote release lifting clamp. The C5 automatic horizontal lifting clamp can be used to lift and move steel plates, beams or pipe. Its automatic remote release has a failsafe design, Elebia said, minimising risk, enhancing safety, and increasing productivity in lifting operations.
The hook is used in conjunction with Elebia’s eMAX remote control, which makes it very clear to the operator the exact status of the lifting clamps. Once the automatic lifting clamps are fixed to the load that is being lifted, the automated process takes over. By using the eMAX remote control the crane operator can ensure that the lifting clamps are all in the same position before every lift, says Elebia. This information is relayed in real time and should there be any difference in the clamp’s states, the remote control informs the crane operator immediately. Once all clamps are confirmed ready, the lifting operation can commence.
The C5 has a working load limit of 5000 kg (11,023 lb) and a weight of 19 kg (41.8 lb). It has a roller for chains or slings and a handle grip that doubles as a second lifting point. The E-ink 14 segment display battery can be fully charged in three hours and will last 5000 cycles between charges (or 250 hours in standby mode). The hook has a lock/unlock button and it is impossible to release the load while it is placed on the lifting clamp, says Elebia. Parts that wear, including the hook’s tip, can be easily replaced, the company says. The hook itself is sharp to enable it to be inserted into spaces with small clearances. Alternatively, for lifting pipes, the tip can be replaced with a rounded one
Load cell specialist Straightpoint has a new product for measuring tension on static lines: the Clamp On Line Tensionmeter (COLT). COLT measures tension on wire rope up to 11,000 lbf (pound force) / 5,000 kgf (kg force) and up to 1 ” (25 mm) in diameter. According to the company, it clamps onto pre-tensioned wire ropes, eliminating the need for additional sheaves or tooling, as is the case with alternative solutions. An integral Bluetooth module transmits tension data wirelessly to any smart device running the Android or iOS app. Contained within the app is a ‘wire rope library’.
The company claims tension in wire ropes can be measured and logged within seconds. David Ayling, Straightpoint managing director, said, “Measuring tension of differing wire rope diameters often requires different sheaves to be exchanged – requiring tools and other ancillary equipment. The COLT boasts an integral quick adjustment mechanism, meaning it can be used to measure wire rope diameters ranging from 3/16 ” to 1 “ (or 5 mm to 25 mm).
“We’ll launch the app with a library of around 20 different rope types but as our library here increases over time, the information will be forwarded to all app users via updates,” Ayling adds.
The COLT is machined from aluminium and has an IP67 / NEMA6 waterproofing rating. An auto-locking magnetic handle mechanism is fitted for security when installed. Claimed battery life is up to 1,000 hours.