Crane operator devices face bigger cranes and busier sites

By Euan Youdale14 June 2010

The SMIE DLZ342 anti-collision system being used at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport constructio

The SMIE DLZ342 anti-collision system being used at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport construction site, Paris, France

Operator information systems are moving with the times to provide accessible data in busier working environments for more advanced and larger cranes.

We are all aware that accidents and downtime must be avoided at all costs and operator comfort goes along way to ensuring this happens.

SMIE has been producing crane anti-collision systems for some 30 years. "The time when the jobsites were asked to choose between security and productivity has passed because of the anti-collision systems SMIE has developed," says Jean-Louis Olivier, SMIE chairman executive officer.

Apart from the additional benefit of increased productivity, anti-collision systems and other monitors discussed here create a better working environment for the operator.

"Crane operators have a great deal of responsibility and have to work in many potentially stressful situations. The anti-collision system enables SMIE to significantly reduce the stress by allowing the operator to focus on productivity," says Olivier.


The existing SMIE AC246 and DLZ342 anti-collision systems have been adapted to meet the requirements of EN14439-Category 2 safety of tower cranes standard. This means they eliminate interference when used with up to 21 wireless or 30 wired units.

According to SMIE, the new regulation has a major affect on construction sites and requires data to be of high quality. The systems provide functions to allow the operator to easily perform the system check tests and receive this data. In this case the test button is on the display panel.

The AC243 anti-collision system can manage up to 21 cranes on the same wireless network, up from 14 units. The associated SGC240 data logger system can also now accommodate 21 wireless units in the same network.

According to SMIE, the device helps the operator work at optimal speeds and distances by taking into account the hoisting cable, jib, counter-jib, mast supplying data on the crane and the position of the load.

"The central unit carries out its calculations several times a second and takes into account the braking capacity of each movement when determining the risk of collision," explains Olivier.

Total information

User-friendliness is a feature that Rayco-Wylie has been working on with its latest "crane information centre", providing at-a-glance display of all machine parameters that are connected to the system.

"With an increasing demand for versatile but more user friendly crane indicators, we decided to design the i3000 as system that can easily be used and understood, while incorporating more capacity to display information for the operator," says Frank Bearsdley, technical director.

Features include the ability to view all necessary information at a glance with, among other things, an interactive crane configuration picture.

There is continuous indication of duty and falls settings, as well as data protection in case of failure, hoist rope overload protection, motion cut option and reverse video display for night viewing. There is also diagnostics system, warning the operator of system failure. It meets all known American, European and international safety standards, says Rayco-Wylie.

The company's latest product, the i3500 CAN bus rated capacity indicator, combines a range of crane information with two CAN bus communication interfaces and a graphic LCD display. In addition, there is an isolated input and relay box. The card actuates the relays according to commands received from the CAN bus link. The processor reads four digital inputs and their status is transmitted to the CPU.


An easily readable all-in-one display is also the cornerstone of Load Systems International's (LSI) range-topping GS820 display and receiver system. It allows up to 20 fields of data to be seen at a glance on the six inch (150 mm) screen that is designed for viewing in direct sunlight. Up to 32 sensors can be monitored. Users can switch between graphical display and text only display of data. The system is also designed to cope with temperatures between -20 and +50°C.

Another advantage to the user is the after sales service. According to Carlos Barletta, inside sales, it is the only company of its type to offer immediate replacement of a system should one become faulty in the field. "If something happens to a piece of our equipment, you send it back to us and we will send you a replacement right away until we work out what is wrong. This means you do not get any downtime."

As previously mentioned, another important time-saver is attained through personalised settings. The GS820 allows user settable limits and alarms for each installed sensor. Sensors can include any combination of a whole range, including, load cell, load pin, angle and length, anti-two block, wind speed and tip height.


A move towards customising the configuration of the device by the operator is reflected in new Hirschmann products. It is launching wireless sensors to give information about actual load and wind speed on cranes.

The products also suit retrofitting to existing equipment, which, the company says, is often a problem. For example, it can be too expensive or impossible on crane hooks.

The new system comprises a range of sensors, including fSENS KMD-W1 force sensors with a capacity of 6 and 20 metric tonnnes, the gSENS WGF-W1 angle sensor, the iSENS WSS-W1 wind speed sensor and the iSENS HES-W1 anti-two-block switch.

Outputs from these sensors are displayed on the iSCOUT PRS85 graphical multi-sensor display, which allows users to configure up to seven sensors with individual alarm settings and to manage all information and alarm events. The display shows the actual force, angle, wind speed and other values as a percentage of their maximum settings. If a limit is exceeded, the equipment is switched off or a built-in relay triggers an external alarm. To further enhance safety, regular "health checks" are performed automatically and the remaining battery capacity of all connected sensors is displayed.


Keeping sight of your working area from a range of angles has become common in crane operation but the features are continually advancing. In this respect, Orlaco is presenting its new camera/monitor for cranes and other offroad vehicles.

Part of this system is the Spectrum scanner which automatically searches for the optimum frequency for data exchange between camera and monitor. The system selects its frequency from up to eight options. "The driving force behind this development was the need for images that are highly reliable and highly available, because these features are essential for both safety and comfort," says Jacco Hartkoorn at Orlaco.

A new radar system is also making its first appearance. It detects objects and people in the immediate vicinity of a vehicle. "If these are identified, the view system automatically switches to the camera on that side of the vehicle," adds Hartkoorn.

In addition, Orlaco has introduced a new pan and tilt zoom camera. The pan and tilt function is fully integrated into the housing of the zoom camera. The camera always remembers its last position. "In case of uncontrolled camera movements, for example when it is hit by objects," says Hartkoorn, "the camera automatically returns to its last position." Eight programmable positions (presets) make it easy to switch between different angles.


The HookCam from Pacific Systems Solutions (PSS) gives tower crane operators a view from the hook. It provides a view of the pick area with any adjacent obstructions and can highlight proximity problems and load security issues to the operator.

The system consists of a camera installed between the cheek plates of the hook block, a receiver and transmitter that sits on the trolley and a monitor inside the operator's cab.

Chris Catanzaro, operations manager at PSS, said that unlike systems that use security cameras mounted at a fixed position on the jib, the HookCam travels with the hook and needs no adjustment to the view.

"The HookCam gives the operator a clear picture from the hook: an invaluable extra set of eyes. This results in increased operator confidence, safety, and performance."

No operator training is needed but they do need to learn how the device works because at the moment it does not offer a three-dimensional view, so operators must learn to judge the depth of images on the display screen.

Zooming in

Staying with cameras, the MC5200 is the latest crane monitoring unit from Motec. The auto-focus motorised zoom colour camera is particularly suited for monitoring loads attached to the crane hook. It is attached to the jib of mobile, telescopic or lattice tower cranes by a suspended mounting. The result is a constantly vertical camera position, allowing operators to monitor all operations and detect obstacles at an early stage and check that the load is correctly attached. The MC5200 can also be attached directly at the crane trolley if the crane does not have an adjustable jib.

Motec's designers particularly focused on high image quality. With its 18x optical zoom (12x digital), the MC5200 offers razor-sharp, high-contrast images with 440,000 pixels, says the company. It covers a horizontal image angle from 2.2 to 54.2°, allowing crane operators visibility around the load and the hook.

Robustness is an important factor when it comes to attaching cameras to heavy machinery. The aluminium housing of the MC5200 provides a tough unit that can operate in temperatures of -35 to +60° C and rain and snow. An integrated heating system has been provided to avoid condensation and fogging.

"Cameras increase the safety of machines and operators, they improve the ergonomics of the driver in his cabin and they help to use and to utilise vehicles and plant much more efficiently," sums up a Motec spokesman.

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