Manitowoc has opened the Product Verification Centre at its Shady Grove, USA facility to scrutinise the components used in its cranes.
Components will undergo rigorous performance and working life-cycle tests at the centre to provide Manitowoc engineers with a projected performance of cranes in the field. It will also speed up the product development phase for new designs, reduce warranty claims and on-site stoppages, and allow for the direct comparison of supplier components, said the company.
“For Manitowoc and its customers, this new centre marks the beginning of an exciting phase in modern crane design and testing,” said Eric Etchart, Manitowoc president and general manager, “By meticulously inspecting the quality and endurance of individual components, we will be able to reach new, unprecedented levels of quality. We believe there’s no other facility like this in the crane industry.”
The centre includes a range of features, including:
- A severe environment test (HALT) chamber that can mimic extreme temperature swings and test component reaction to continuous vibration.
- A walk-in temperature and humidity chamber that’s large enough to fit entire crane cabs, consoles and power boxes.
- A four-channel structural test system with advanced feedback control.
- An electrical and software testing lab.
- Imaging systems for forensic analysis, including a thermal imaging camera and microscopes.
- A materials lab with a scanning electron microscope, flaw detector and hardness tester.
- A cyclic corrosion chamber, which recreates salt water exposure and fog conditions.
The centre’s 41 managers, technicians and engineers can test designs earlier in the development process than previously possible, meaning suppliers and their components can be vetted before the products are placed on cranes. Also, potential issues can be identified earlier.
“It’s still very early, but we’re already seeing some interesting results. For example, we recently used thermal imaging technology when analysing engine performance on one of our industrial cranes. As a result, we adjusted the design to increase fuel economy and improve productivity,” said Jim MacIntyre, Manitowoc director of global quality systems, “In the future, we will be able to replicate this kind of innovation on a much bigger scale.”