Help to ensure

15 April 2008

The Motec MC5100 crane camera system can simultaneously display up to four camera views

The Motec MC5100 crane camera system can simultaneously display up to four camera views

Crane operator assistance devices fall in to two categories – those that help operators to do their job more easily in the cab and those that ensure maximum safety and productivity.

Namik Idil, president of Techno Fine USA, supplier of a crane load view camera system, comments that this type of equipment “is a great equalizer of different skill levels. There are operators who can place a load within inches of a target quickly and there are those who are not as skillful. [With operator assistance devices] an operator can be very productive regardless of experience.”

Eike Konrad, sales director at load view camera system company Motec in Germany, adds, “In the past crane manufacturers and operators have been relying too much on the driver's eyesight and skills, plus the help of support personnel. In the future, this will no longer be enough to meet the rising demands for safety and efficiency.”

Crane cameras

While mobile cranes in ports have had cameras as standard for some time, they have been options on other types of crane, including tower, mobile and crawler cranes for construction sites. This is now changing, with more companies, for example, ICCH Ltd in Ireland, offering full colour, zoom cameras as part of the basic package.

Where a camera is retrofitted there are several choices. The Techno Fine system is mounted at the end of the boom and sends coverage of the complete work area to a full-colour screen in the cab where the operator can zoom in up to 10 times. The camera is contained in a stainless steel housing, and is designed to stay vertical, regardless of boom angle, and to operate in all weather. Installation is claimed to be quick and easy using wireless technology.

The new Motec MC5100 crane camera system allows monitoring of the hook and winch and displays up to four camera views simultaneously. The specially developed Motec System Bus software allows independent control of the camera, and the automatic self-monitoring feature shows the type and cause of any camera failure on the screen in the cab. In below-zero temperatures the automatic protection system pre-heats the camera to prevent sweating in the housing, which, Motec claims, resists the most adverse conditions. The system operates on either wireless or cable.

Three analog PAL cameras, fitted with internal heaters, feed to a 165, 178 or 250 mm LCD colour display in the TTC Vision system from TTControl Srl, Italy. The display adapts to changing ambient light conditions and the housing is aluminium to resist mechanical stress and electromagnetic disturbance. Control of the unit is via a touch panel, a keyboard or an encoder.

Load monitoring

Even with the lift supervised via a camera, it is still vital to monitor the load on the hook throughout. Load monitoring systems range from a simple load indicator to a full-scale system measuring all parameters of the crane. The MIPEG 2000 system from Aanderaa Data Instruments AS, Norway, is offered as an electronic load indicator or as a monitoring and recording system that produces records for use in planned maintenance programmes or in the event of an accident investigation. Also available from Aanderaa is the MIPEG rope speed indicator which provides anti-two-blocking protection for use in blind lifts.

Where multiple monitoring is required, the LSI GS550 wireless load monitoring system from Load Systems International Inc, in the US, displays results from up to 32 wireless boom sensors, showing angle, load, radius, wind speed and anti two block. The user's load charts can be programmed in.

Collision avoidance

Lift planning software (IC December 06, page 41) helps reduce the likelihood of collisions on specific lifts by simulating the operation ahead of time on a computer. Anti-collision systems are an alternative or an addition fitted to cranes to give early warning of dangerous situations.

New from Persha International is the TAC-3000 tower crane anti-collision system. Developed by E-Build Innovations, it provides a staged safety operation, first by sounding an audible warning, then slowing the jib, hook block or counter jib or, finally, by bringing the crane to a complete halt. The zone protection feature monitors up to six prohibited zones, each with eight points, for the jib or hook block, while the boundary protection feature can be preset with a 25-point area over which the hook block cannot operate. The situation can be viewed by the operator on a screen in the cab.

The HRT 96-5000 WW wide angle laser light scanner with background suppression from Balluff-Leuze Pty Ltd, Australia, is designed to provide anti-collision protection on gantry cranes on both straight and angled paths. The unit provides scanning depths of 5 and 2.5 m and also provides creep speed, stop commands and cable breakage monitoring.

MIE in France recently introduced the DLZ 341, an operator instrument panel, which both shows and stores operating parameters, and incorporates a zoning function for a crane working alone. The DLZ341 also captures data on the number of operating hours, loads lifted, a lifting cycle analysis and details of previous cycles, which are downloaded on to an SD memory card.

Also available from SMIE is the KSANE wind speed alarm. It is an anemometer and light system that shows an orange flashing light when the wind speed reaches 50 km/h and a red light and continuous siren for 70 km/h.

These are just some of the new devices available to help the crane operator and more are being developed all the time. Whichever the crane user chooses, the reasons will always be the same – they help reduce loading and transportation times and increase safety.

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