Push the button

25 April 2008

Itowa's new Supervision and Control Interface (SCI) allows the user to access and control data via t

Itowa's new Supervision and Control Interface (SCI) allows the user to access and control data via the internet

A wide range of new products in the remote control sector is available to crane users. Manufacturers are leaning towards systems with fewer buttons controlling more functions, which, in effect, makes them simpler to use. Another interesting aspect to one recent launch is touch recognisable controls. One manufacturer has developed a control system with different shaped levers, such as rounded or square ones. This, in theory, allows the operator to keep their attention focused on the load rather than having to look down to check which lever is being used.

New from Ikusi is the TM70 range of remote controls, a series that the manufacturer claims offers “many advantages” over previous models.

The controls have a two-position primary control button and have side handles on the control box for handling and access.

Transceivers have been mounted both on the Ikusi receivers and the transmitters, allowing for information to also be sent from the receiver to the transmitter. An alphanumeric display from the transmitter, showing the information received and processed from the receiver, is optional.

Other information that can be displayed on the control box include alarms and other signals. The transceiver radios operate from 870 MHz to 433 MHz.

For construction cranes the software uses smart technology to select the first free channel in the spectrum when the normal work channel is busy. This is done as soon as the transmitter is switched on. Ikusi says that this function reduces the number of stops caused by frequency collisions.

New from Ravioli are the Soft and SoftPlus series of push button remote controls, which are available with either nine or 13 buttons on the transmitter and in single or two-way transmission modes. The ergonomically designed transmitter is manufactured from shockproof plastics and is fitted with a code identifying feature, which, Ravioli says guarantees interference- free communication between the transmitter and receiver.

Self adhesive labels are supplied that allow a user to customise the system.

Also available is a water-tight receiver unit with a handle that can be wall-mounted, allowing quick removal after use without using any tools. The receiver is fitted with a removable terminal board, which, Ravioli says allows easy and fast cabling to the crane.

Two new remote control systems - Remotus Jupiter and Remotus Mercury - from Åkerströms have been designed for the wireless control of smaller hoists to cranes with two- way communication. The Jupiter's transmitters and receivers work with most standard applications and the Mercury line has several transmitters and receivers that can be modified for different requirements.

The products comply with EN954-1 safety category 4 and have been developed to deal with dust, vibration, oil, dampness and extreme temperature differences.

Jupiter is used on the general frequency bands and now on the 2.4 GHz band, while the Mercury products operate on general and separate frequency bands. The receivers are supplied with expansion cards for additional functions. Users can store configurations on an information module (CIM) card.

The Mercury line's transmitter scans 30 channels for an available frequency and automatically connects itself with its respective receiver.

Transmitters can be ordered with a duplex function, which enables display of information such as load weight and wind speed.

New from Itowa is the Supervision and Control Interface (SCI) for mobile and tower cranes. Using the new system and a computer equipped with the software for viewing and controlling SCI, it is possible to access, via GPRS, the data storage unit set by SCI on the machine. Users can obtain and control the information collected via the internet and have control over three output switches in the SCI unit.

Other features include an Infra Red (IR) security system which sets limits to the working width of the remote control and Intelligent Change of Frequency, which automatically finds and uses the best available frequency for the user.

The SCI system is compatible with the full rage of current Itowa remote controls including the Compact, Combi, Boggy, Setval and Beton systems.

Datek Industrielektronik AB has introduced a graphic display for use with its D2801 MIDI system. Capable of displaying both text and symbols, the display improves the overall system functionality, gives better feedback to the operator and makes it possible to tailor the display of information to the particular application, claims the manufacturer.

The remote control system incorporates semi-duplex (two way communication) for two way operation and allows up to 60 functions to be operated simultaneously. It also has a multi-operator mode that allows up to three operators to control one to three cranes individually or in tandem.

In its standard form, the display system accepts data via digital signal input or in analogue form via a serial bus (RS-232, RS-422 and RS485) according to Datek protocols. Feed of data takes place over the same frequency as the control signalling. Display information can be controlled so that it can set priorities, for example, for alarms.

Control Chief has launched a new, lightweight transmitter, the LJ45, which is part of the Advantage Series. The new model provides a lightweight alternative to the existing TK6 transmitter.

The LJ45's plastic case design will be forward compatible with any new receivers Control Chief manufactures in the future, the company says.

Micro-control, a company within the Cavotec Group, has launched a new remote control for large machines such as cranes, reachstackers and ship loaders and unloaders.

The MC-3-6 is aimed at users with special requirements for uninterrupted operation. The system consists of a terminal unit comprising a double battery compartment. This enables the operator to “hot swap” the batteries without interrupting the operation. For operators where the start up sequence is time consuming, this option, Cavotec says, saves crucial working time.

A “global” line of radio remote controls has been introduced by Cattron-Theimeg. “We have many OEM customers who market their products all over the world,” said Wieland Weigler, managing director, Cattron-Theimeg Europe. “Our systems must be universally deployable and meet all the relevant standards in all countries.”

Excalibur will compete primarily in the mid to lower range, non-engineered, remote control market where pricing is competitive, Cattron says.

A range of applications can be accommodated from small hoists to large EOT cranes. Initially available will be transmitters with six to 12 two-step push buttons and receivers with nine, 12 or 17 relays. A receiver with up to 32 relays is expected to follow.

In the US, Cattron Group International has unveiled its newest controller/transmitter, the T34C, designed for industrial crane applications.

This lightweight 'belly box' style controller is aimed at indoor and limited outdoor overhead crane remote control applications in most industrial environments. The T34C can be used with most licensed Cattron AT Series or MP Series receiver/decoder units. It can also be used with most existing Cattron systems as either a replacement or as a spare controller.

One of the more distinctive features of the T34C is the unique design of its control levers. Built from aircraft-quality 6061 billet aluminium, the handle for each lever is a different shape making it easier for the operator to distinguish between control levers without having to look down. The controller uses surface mount technology and employs Cattron's standard self-diagnostics (lever/switch test with audible tones). The main housing is 5052 aircraft- quality aluminium and incorporates a guard bar to protects the switches against damage.

T34C controllers can be configured with up to six control levers and customized with additional pushbuttons and toggle switches. The T34C operates with readily available standard AA alkaline or nickel metal hydride (NiMh) rechargeable batteries.

Claiming interruption-free operation of radio control systems, HBC radiomatic has introduced its radiomatic AFM (automatic frequency management) system. If the frequency currently used by the HBC system is also used by another radio system, the frequency is automatically changed within a second, and operation can continue without delay, HBC says. The system allows practically any number of HBC radio control units to be used without causing mutual interference. The HBC feedback mode (RM) is now said to offer twice the transmission capacity compared with previous systems. The radiomatic AFM is compatible with the 735 Spectrum and 770 Spectrum radio systems.

Also new from HBC radiomatic is the FSE 524 radio remote control. The FSE 524, with its 24 digital commands, is claimed to be ideally suited for bottom slewing construction cranes as well as for a variety of top slewing cranes.

The new radio control receiver has several new features, including feedback capability, CAN-Bus interface and proportional output. This allows use of the FSE 524 on bottom slewing cranes with infinitely variable swing gear. Minimum and maximum speeds can be configured individually by using teach keys.

The receiver can be connected to the system either by HAN 32 or HAN 50 plug-type connectors or by metric cable screw connectors. The new radio control receiver is available, depending on the application, with an aluminium or plastic housing. Both variations conform to protection class IP 65.

Palfinger has introduced the Paltronic 50, a radio remote designed using the company's Paldiag software system. This allows operating levers to be assigned control functions according to individual requirements. Palfinger says that in the future it will be possible to define the maximum speeds of the individual functions and the start/stop acceleration ramps can be individually programmed. This, Palfinger claims, will “greatly enhance sensitive, safe crane control.”

A safety feature on the Paltronic 50 system is the mandatory “two-hand combinations” per function, which means that the crane operator has to activate at least two buttons to be able to carry out certain manoeuvres. The addition of such a system is to minimise the chances of an operator accidentally pressing a button or starting a function unintentionally. In addition, the maximum speed of the different crane movements can be reduced in three stages.

All Paltronic radio remote control systems can be supplied with a second receiver to enable additional equipment such as hydraulic extending outriggers to be incorporated.

Palfinger says its new control system “gives enormous advantages” in the event of an incorrect diagnosis of a fault. In combination with the Paldiag software, the new radio remote control system permanently monitors the status of the system. A code that is visible on the display provides information about the cause of performance deviations. This information enables the crane operator to make corrective adjustments to the system on site.

Another crane manufacturer producing its own remote control system is Hiab with the launch of the new XSDrive remote controller. The controller has been designed for ease of use, to the extent that the buttons should be easy to operate even when wearing heavy duty work gloves.

Another design feature is easy repair and maintenance, with Hiab claiming that an operator can easily change parts on the system when on site.

Ruggedness is another selling point of the XSDrive. Project manager Jan-Ake Henning said that engineers “dropped the unit on a concrete floor and kicked it around a bit” during deveopment. It has also been designed to operate in harsh weather conditions.

Henning says that the number of customers using remote controls has increased greatly in recent years. “A couple of years ago,” he claims, “less than 10% of customers used remote control systems. Today, more than 50% of Hiab cranes are delivered with a remote control system.”

Autec's award-winning MJ joystick system is now available with a new programmable receiver, making it suitable for applications that include construction cranes, concrete mixers and vibrators.

New from Hetronic is the all-digital BMS-2 remote control with up to eight proportional and 12 on/off outputs. The outputs are programmable from a laptop computer for a range of applications. A graphical display communicates function status and system diagnostic codes. The BMS-2 is suitable for OEM applications such as on loader cranes, concrete pumps and other truck mounted equipment. •

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