What Crane Controls Can Do For You
Welcome to the Hoist Guy's blog! In this post, we’ll review how crane controls can make your material handling process simpler and safer.
by Andrew T. Litecky on March 31, 2017
A customer recently hired us to improve their material handling process. They were moving large rolls of material off a production machine, and the rolls were long enough to require a hoist on either end. However, the original process was unwieldy and cumbersome. It was difficult to coordinate the air-powered monorail hoists on either side of the roll, and it took three employees to maneuver the load – two to operate the hoist pendants on either side and one to hold the roll steady. When Shupper-Brickle was called in to improve the system without changing the footprint of the production floor, we immediately saw three key changes to increase the system’s productivity and safety: electric-powered hoists, variable frequency drives, and remote controls that allowed for synchronized lifting.
One of the customer’s main problems was their use of air-powered hoists. While this type of equipment has its benefits, it is very difficult to coordinate the lifting of two air hoist units at the same speed. This facility was using air hoists because the previously manufactured product required spark-resistant equipment. However, they had long since switched their production and the environment was no longer hazardous. Therefore, electric chain hoists were the first recommended change, and we supplied the Harrington NER.
Secondly, we recommended variable frequency drives for better control of the hoists. The hoist manufacturer added the drives to modify and set two speed points. Variable frequency drives, or VFD’s, are a technology that can change a standard, single-speed hoist to create multi-speed functionality. More importantly, VFD’s allow a “soft start” and a smoother lift. Shupper-Brickle programmed the VFD’s so that the hoists lifting either side of the roll in this application moved at the same speed.
The most important improvement to the customer’s system was the addition of synchronized remote controls, and we supplied a Laird ™ Remtron® Command Pro® Handheld Transmitters. In reviewing the application, it was evident a single controller for all three hoists used in the space would give the operator maximum freedom and flexibility. Further, the operator needed the flexibility to control each hoist individually or operate them in tandem. While many hoist remotes on the market can operate more than one hoist in the production space, this need for synchronized lifting is unusual and the challenge was accepted by Laird's engineering department in Warren, Ohio.
Even in more typical lifting situations, a remote control offers improved safety and efficiency. Remote hoist and crane controls allow the operator to stand away from the load and out of the range of potential load swings or accidental drops. This freedom of movement also improves efficiency since one personnel can operator multiple lifting components. Remote controls can be configured in various ways and customized to the production space.
For our customer’s specialty application, American-made Laird controls were uniquely engineered to offer synchronized lifting. With the new equipment in place, one operator could control two hoists together to lift the load or choose to move each hoist individually, all while standing a safe distance away from the production space. Since the load was lifted by electric chain hoists fitted with VFD’s, there was no longer a need for personnel to hold the load steady through the lift.
With nearly fifty years in the business, Shupper-Brickle offers experience and a broad knowledge of the industry’s brands. Whether your lifting challenge is standard or unique, contact us for expert support on all your overhead material handling questions or for a review of your lifting system.