Lifting the burden

25 April 2008

All-Erection’s Simulation program allows full details of the project to be entered on an easy-t

All-Erection’s Simulation program allows full details of the project to be entered on an easy-t

The increasing costs of crane and staff time mean lifts must be planned for maximum effectiveness. The use of lift planning software allows the lift to be displayed on a computer screen in a matter of minutes and run through thoroughly to help eliminate any possible hazards, inefficient operation or inappropriate effects on the site and its surroundings.

Software is being used more and more; Albert Fitoussi, marketing director for France-based, Progistik (which produces the Méthocad program), and Gene Duffey, project manager for US program, Compu-Crane, both estimate that more than 50% of companies already use basic two dimensional AutoCAD to plan their construction site layouts.

By using a proprietary lift planning software program, the movement of the crane on to the site and through the complete lift can now also be shown in three dimensions. In addition, lift planning software indicates which crane models in a user’s fleet will be the most suitable and allows full operational drawings and documentation to be produced in hard copy or pdf format. Use of these programs allows companies to prepare more accurate bid quotes and demonstrate to potential customers that all safety and environmental considerations have been taken in to account.

Types of software

The programs come in three categories, designed for mobile cranes, tower cranes and rigging operations. Some are supplied with each crane purchased, while others are designed for large scale crane users for planning lifts for customers. Most programs are supplied with full details of the relevant models already entered into the system.

Compu-Crane software, owned by Manitowoc, is included with all Grove cranes over 54 tonnes and Manitowocs over 108 tonnes. Support and training for Compu-Crane is offered by US company, North Cascade Industrial Software Co (NCI). Tawnia Weiss, vice president at NCI, says, “In the seven years I have been involved with Compu-Crane, I have seen the need for lift planning software change a lot. In the past two years, our customers want planning software with certain features that are mandatory to their lifts, for example, ground bearing pressure information. Compu-Crane will calculate the pressure as the lift is being simulated, while monitoring load charts and possible collisions at the same time.”

NCI customer, All Carolina Crane & Equipment, recently worked on a lift using a Grove GMK7550 with megawing and luffing jib attachments at a large pulp and paper mill in the South East US. General manager Craig Hunt noted, “Compu-Crane LPS 2.0 enabled us to determine each critical path of the lift. We laid the entire lift out, obstructions, headroom, exact location for the centre of rotation, and determined the crane could make a successful lift. Load weights, load heights, offset angle, it’s all there in one program for multiple setup scenarios using hydraulic, lattice or conventional cranes.”

The Wright Lift Planner program from Australian company, Lennox Computers, although basically designed for crawler cranes, is said to be suitable for any other type of crane (or other lifting machinery) and is based on standard Microsoft Windows graphics.

Tower crane planning using the MéthodCAD program from Progistik can be carried out by the crane owner, or the service can be subcontracted from the developers. A feature of the program is the use of virtual cameras moving around the digital model of the site, to produce a video sequence or animated computer file of the planned lift. This allows bad siting of a piece of equipment, or an illogical sequence of tasks, to be identified ahead of time. A clash detection command signals problems automatically for the cranes proposed for the project. Full details of the main manufacturers are included with the program but additional models can be input where required.

A general program that works with crawler, all terrain, rough terrain and tower cranes and gantries, LiftPlanner from US company, Liftplanner Software, is a three dimensional AutoCAD- based system which can be combined with three dimensional laser scanning to produce a virtual video view of the complete lift, (see box on previous page). Some 200 crane models are included in the library supplied, which can also be programmed with three dimensional models from the user company’s fleet and ancillary equipment, including shackles, chokers, lugs and lifting beams.

All Erection & Crane Rental Corp worked with each contractor to understand their individual approaches to the contract and the way they planned to use their equipment. All surveyed and measured the site and its surrounding area and ran the results through the All Lift Simulation software program, which is based on Compu-Crane. The program identified the crane that would meet the requirements of all the contractors and the report was used by the erection sub-contractor to win the contract.

Rich Randall, territory sales representative for All Erection says, “The estimate was precise and landed the bid. Companies who retain our equipment and operators get the added benefit of our software program, making their bidding process much more successful.

Rigging programs include Rigging Pro from PAT America, which gives a three dimensional view of a load from all sides, using existing Crosby hardware components or other brands entered into a customised inventory.

Companies providing internal lift planning services for their customers include UK company, Hewden, which uses the Crane Selector program, and All Erection, Ohio, US, which uses the All Lift Simulation Software, based on Compu-Crane, (see box above).

The Hewden program selects the appropriate crane from the fleet, based on load and radius information entered from the customer’s proposed project. A new version of the All Erection program was introduced this year and uses the preloaded fleet information to provide a three dimensional simulation of the lift.

Terex-Demag provides a licence for the Cranimation programme from German company, Cranimax GmbH, with each crane and offers customers the opportunity of upgrading to a three dimensional version. Notes Christian Schorr- Golsong, director, marketing, at Terex, “For Terex- Demag, it is very important that clients should be able to plan their crane usage as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. More and more clients are now requiring detailed and precise pre-planning even before orders are placed. This requires powerful planning software that is always up to date. With Cranimation, however the crane is set up, the lifting capacity can be checked, taking account of radii, load, counterweights, turning range, etc. The software calculates both the currently active and the maximum possible supporting forces in real time.”

Availability

Where crane users intend to use the programs internally, these are obtainable either by downloading from the suppliers’ web sites or on CD, supplied with the equipment or purchased directly, (see box below).

Lift planning software is now a vital part of crane operation. Says Tania Weiss at North Cascade Industrial, “As the industry and regulations change, lift software must continue to update and follow along with new needs to be a valuable tool.” As with other aspects of the construction industry, adoption of new technology is vital. Says Albert Fitoussi at Progistik, “Demand for marketing and technical projects incorporating a simulation element is now considerable. It is becoming essential to be able to show the client that a proposed solution is feasible by actually demonstrating by means of a digital model. The financial advantages are obvious.”

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