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Konecranes Users Conference demonstrates new technologies

Konecranes Remote Operating Station makes it possible to operate a 20-ton Konecranes SMARTON crane located in Houston TX from the Crane Users Conference venue in Pittsburgh, PA.
Konecranes Remote Operating Station makes it possible to operate a 20-ton Konecranes SMARTON crane located in Houston TX from the Crane Users Conference venue in Pittsburgh, PA.

The 2018 edition of Konecranes' groundbreaking Crane Users Conference came to Pittsburgh recently, and attendees from 35 companies in 15 states were able to experience first-hand where today's fast-evolving lifting technologies can take them.

Konecranes Region Americas top management was on hand to set the tone for the event, which focused squarely on improving crane safety. Bernie D'Ambrosi, senior vice president for service and Mark Ubl, senior vice president for industrial cranes opened the conference by emphasizing the importance of doing everything possible to prevent an incident or injury. 

"Anything that Konecranes can do to improve the safety of our customers is worth almost any investment of time and money that we can make," said D'Ambrosi.

The conference was designed specifically for industries where cranes are part of their processes, such as: aluminum, automotive, energy from waste, intermodal & rail, manufacturing, mining, nuclear, petrochemical, pulp & paper and steel. 

General session topics of the complimentary event covered every facet of crane management, including safety programs, leading-edge safety features available on new equipment, and the role played by inspections and preventive maintenance. Corrective maintenance and retrofit sessions showed attendees how to solve or minimize safety and production risks, and modernization experts discussed how to integrate new 21st century technology into aging 20th century cranes.   

Konecranes new technologies quickly gained rock star status in the breakout sessions. Getting their hands on the latest bells and whistles was a highlight for everyone who tried them. Konecranes Remote Operating Station allowed attendees to operate a 20-ton Konecranes SMARTON crane bristling with safety-related Smart Features right from the conference hotel in Pittsburgh. The crane, located 1,335 miles away at Konecranes facility in Houston was operated remotely via an internet connection.

In a factory setting, the Remote Operating Station allows one person to operate multiple cranes, or run the crane from a safer location where they can also perform other duties. In Pittsburgh, conference goers were able to try out the Sway Control and Active Sway Control features, along with Hook Centering and Snag Prevention, all software-based protocols that reduce the risk of personal injury, damage to the load, crane and surrounding areas.

Konecranes virtual reality crane operator training simulator was another hit. Trainees donned virtual reality goggles to explore challenging load-handling scenarios without real-world risk.   

"Customers today want to be educated, not targeted," said conference organizer Jim Skowron. "They want to be helped, not sold to. They want useful alternatives, and to understand what their choices are. What they don't want is a one-size-fits-all approach."

Attendee Gary Halteman of Chapel Steel underscored this idea.

"This was a very good meeting, more than I was expecting," he said.  "I will meet with my branch manager on some of the topics - oil testing, gear boxes, service and preventive maintenance. I would like to have all our plant managers attend the next conference." 

Jim Skowron says the opportunity to receive feedback from customers is a gift.

"Hosting this kind of a meeting gives us additional insight about what our company needs to do to continue helping our customers improve safety and productivity. Simply put, it shows us how we can strive for continuous improvement," he said.

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