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Anti-sway technology is one of the most sought after safety upgrades in crane mo

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The findings come from a report by Global Market Estimates (GME), (‘Global Anti-Sway Crane Controller Market’, published February 25, 2021), which predicts the sector will grow with a high CAGR value between 2021 to 2026. In terms of region, it claims Asia Pacific is projected to hold the largest market share by 2026 due to expansion in the construction and transportation industry, as well as increasing investment in technologically advanced products. North America will also see significant growth in the coming years. Increasing automotive production along with rising demand for more safe operations to avoid heavy fines in lawsuits will influence demand. The region has also witnessed a high collision rate due to weight fall and unstable load swing. The Middle East and Africa is projected to see the highest gains due to demand from the oil and gas industry. The regional growth is also influenced by stringent labour laws and labour safety programs.

Accidents can be very expensive in terms of equipment damage, property destruction, worker injury, and lawsuits from victims and property owners. According to Konecranes Training Institute, more than 37% of accidents happen due to load disbalancing while swaying the load. It says its updated anti-sway crane controller can be installed in existing as well as new cranes. However, the cost of installation depends on the hoist model and compatibility.

GME claims nearly all industries depend on Electric Overhead Travelling cranes (EOTs) for their heavyweight maintenance, manufacturing and process needs. The fleets of these essential workhorses of industry have experienced exponential growth over the last 20 years, with rapid economic growth until the Covid pandemic mothballed some sectors of industry and cut production in others.

Now this growth is poised to resume, as Asia-Pacific nations focus on renewed export drives and extensive infrastructure and industry projects to stimulate growth domestically.

Sectors such as construction, public and private infrastructure, logistics, manufacturing, metals, automotive, steel, mining and energy, waste-to-energy and utilities projects are among major sectors earmarked for expansion — in areas extending from China and India, down through SE Asia-Pacific to Australasia, according to Konecranes.

With this resurgence in demand for EOT cranes, will come a renewed focus on achieving the highest standards of reliability, cost-efficiency and safety — a process driven by not only technology innovations in new cranes, but modernization among existing fleets of EOT cranes as the region has experienced the largest and longest economic expansion in its collective history.

“As thousands of new cranes have entered service over the past 20 years, the countries of the region have built up a massive and maturing pool of existing cranes. Many of these have been under-utilized in recent times, but are substantially sound and can achieve strong cost-efficiency, lifespan and safety gains by being modernized rather than replaced,” says Mark Beckwith, operations manager, Konecranes and Demag (part of Konecranes Group). Some older cranes won’t be able to compete with the efficiency of new crane technologies, but, for others, overhead crane modernization can present a cost-saving alternative to buying new equipment. This will assist a wider range of businesses to benefit from the more efficient, updated technology that is available in brand-new cranes tailored to particular industries.”

Crane modernization raises operational productivity and profitability, as operators of upgraded equipment see a decrease in maintenance costs and control capital expenditures in highly competitive industries. “If you haven’t looked into crane modernization, you’ll likely be surprised by the range of safety and productivity enhancements possible through updating older cranes,” adds Beckwith.

He believes modernization reduces the weight of older cranes, as new motors, trolleys, hoists and other components are significantly lighter than original equipment. Reduction of dead weight can often increase the capacity of an overhead crane as the load demands on equipment have likely increased over the years. The objectives of any crane modernization should be more efficient operation and improved productivity, both of which lead to increased profitability.

Enhanced safety is also key. Sway control technology, one of the more popular safety upgrades in crane modernization projects, limits load swing by controlling the bridge and trolley acceleration and deceleration. Active sway control is designed to dampen also the existing load sway. It is based on continual measurement of the rope angle. Waiting for load sway to stop or attempting to prevent or reduce it can considerably lengthen the duty cycle.

A variety of automated features can be added in crane modernization projects. For example, cranes in busy, congested facilities can be automated to run on selected safe travel paths. And automated zone control allows a crane to be programmed to operate only in certain areas, to protect personnel and property.

Another high-tech upgrade is distance-detection control, which senses proximity of other cranes on a runway to prevent collisions. One of Konecranes crane modernization services includes TRUCONNECT digital technologies responding to Industry 4.0, which can be retrofitted to EOT cranes, such as those employing CXT wire rope hoists.

TRUCONNECT Remote Monitoring collects condition, usage and operating data from control systems and sensors on an asset and provides alerts of certain anomalies. Remote Monitoring data is used in maintenance planning and in predicting possible component or equipment failure.

“Crane modernization offers more possibilities than you might imagine for updating old equipment to new standards of productivity and safety,” says Beckwith.

Companies considering whether a modernization is a valid option can use Konecranes Crane Reliability Study (CRS) and Steel Structure Analysis for a deeper insight into the condition, safety and efficiency of lifting equipment.

“Sometimes the best option may be a new crane. But the number of existing cranes out there is huge, and many properly maintained cranes can be cost efficiently modernized,” adds Beckwith.

“Modernizing a good existing crane to the best global standards can be a very attractive option where the machinery is assessed as fundamentally sound after thorough compliance, condition and safety audits to help to establish which is the best choice for each operation and industry.” Precise loading and unloading of material is of utmost importance in the industrial sector. Numerous parameters are involved to achieve these daily operations including but not limited to wind flow, speed direction, inclination, and container positioning.

Remote supervision

ABB goes one step further to suggest there are more advanced features manufacturers should be aware of when choosing a drive for crane applications. These include: inbuilt sensorless anti-sway; brake match (catching the load on the fly, if there is a problem with a mechanical brake); HSO – Hoist Speed Optimization (running with or without a load and optimising the speed); smooth lifting (when starting with loose ropes, to avoid shock load when the rope tightens up); master/follower (a motor working together in the same gearbox) and synchro control (electrical shaft, to synchronise multiple hooks).

It claims safe crane operation and control can now be simplified by using flexible IEC 61131-3 programming and certified safety functions placed inside the drives.

“We always try to offer our customers a variety of choices, without locking them into one singular solution. For example, they can choose a drive-based control with our software, or they can use their own programming software, or they can use an external PLC. ABB offers a wide selection of flexibility, but it is all built on standardized ABB configurations and IEC 61131-3 based application programming software for easy compatibility,” says Mikael Holmberg, segment sales manager, Cranes and Marine Winches, ABB Drives.

Remote supervision is a growing trend in the industry, according to ABB and allows the crane drives and PLC to be connected for possible remote support and diagnostics. Ethernet-based modules are available for this purpose. In addition, its ACS880 drives include a memory unit for quick replacement or updating without the need of a PC.

Anti-sway technology is one of the most sought after safety upgrades in crane modernization projects