Heavy Equipment Guide Logo

The heights of safety

Technology is playing a part in improving safe operation of cranes, both mobile and stationary

0158/39355_en_b4d68_41956_hoistcam-camera-on-crane-cranes.jpg

Company info

4855 Brookside Ct, Unit B
Norfolk, VA
US, 23502

Website:
hoistcam.com

Read more

Cramped jobsites are becoming the norm for construction projects, especially in busy urban areas. The combination of multiple machines, workers, material and everything else is a challenge in itself, and the addition of lift equipment to the mix means that safety must be top of mind.

Mobile and tower cranes are essential for getting supplies around sites, and operators must be cognizant of the activity around them to ensure they and their fellow workers are as safe as possible. Along with good site planning and other approaches taken prior to the start of work, manufacturers are taking advantage of various types of technology to help with that goal.

"When they invented these cranes, they really didn't have the technology to be able to adapt them and enable the operator to work more safely - he just basically had to rely on someone else's eyes, and someone else's radio signal," said Chris Machut, chief technology officer with Netarus. "Now, there are things that range from anti-collision systems when you're working with multiple cranes to what we do, which is a magnetic deployable camera that allows the operator to attach his eyes, virtually speaking, right above the load so you can see how it's placed, how it's oriented, where it's going and who's around it."

Situational awareness improves safety
Crane safety comes from a number of directions, but starts with a good operating plan and operators that are focused and able to recognize problems quickly. Machut said that operators who can follow an OODA loop - Observe, Orient, Decide and Act - are a key part of safety, and technology that helps them in that goal is important.

"Having an operator that has really good situational awareness in his environment is really part of the whole plan," Machut said.

There are plenty of safety practices that come along with crane operation, starting from the site's lift plan and extending out to a range of checklists, knowledge of the loads to be picked, the positioning and so forth. Technology takes those practices a step further, Machut noted.

"What we push for is how you extend beyond the standard safety practices - not necessarily to replace them, but to actually augment and assist them," he said. "That goes into understanding and incorporating things like visual aid technologies into the lift plan and the processes that are critical to every operator."

The HoistCam camera system from Netarus was developed to help give operators an additional eye on the load, which is especially important when running a tower crane or lifting over an obstruction, for example. A remote camera is attached magnetically to the hoist. It can run for up to 24 hours, broadcasting video to a monitor in the crane's cab.

Camera adds extra eyes on operations
"Many tower cranes have 120-volt AC so we can plug into that, or in mobile equipment, 99 percent of them have a cigarette lighter plug in them so we have adapters for those as well," Machut said. "Setup is literally a couple of minutes. . . and the rapid deployable nature of the system makes it very easy to use."

Operators find having the camera gives them more control of the situation around their machine, and improves safety significantly.

Machut said that he has received calls from operators who report that they have experienced near misses on the job that, without the camera giving them a chance to take a second look at the situation, could have created serious incidents and potentially fatal consequences. "We're not talking about shutting down a crane for a day due to an accident, we're talking about not shutting a crane down because he spent two to three seconds verifying that everything was safe." 

Mobile cranes have their own unique safety challenges to consider. With many contractors opting for mobile machines for their flexibility, the need to move through tight spaces and then set up the crane for lifting in close quarters with other equipment has driven manufacturers to develop a variety of technologies to assist.

Liebherr, for example, has paired its mobile cranes with the LICCON control computer, which monitors many aspects of crane operations, including safety. Lee Spalding, a sales representative with Liebherr, said that the company's systems are a way to back up the operator in difficult spaces.

"Liebherr is really on the forefront of that technology - for example, there's a new counterweight monitoring system on newer cranes; there are sensors in the hydraulic jacks that lift the counterweight, and when the operator has to confirm everything on the computer and puts in a value that's different than what the computer is telling him, he'll get a warning," Spalding explained. "In this case, the computer may say that he has 100 tons of lift and he's putting 80 tons in, so it will provide a warning and he can double-check."

Some of the company's cranes are equipped with VarioBase, a technology that allows the operator to set the outriggers at independent lengths, a feature that means the machine can fit into restricted jobsites where the outriggers might need to be different lengths. The system takes the outrigger positioning and calculates a load chart for the position, as opposed to having a paper load chart calculated ahead of time. From there, the operator is able to use a software package to plan lifts where necessary, either on a personal computer or within the LICCON system.

"If the crane operator is sitting in his crane and doesn't have a laptop with him, but someone comes up and asks him if he can do a lift, he can press a button on his LICCON system and it will switch into a virtual mode - he can plug in his parameters and do the lift virtually, with the joysticks and everything, as he sits in the crane," Spalding said. 

Visibility when setting up a crane is important as well; operators are often stuck in the cab without a full field of vision around them while the setup process is ongoing, or must use control panels on either side of the crane to extend their outriggers and other equipment. Liebherr has taken advantage of Bluetooth technology to give the operator more opportunity to view the surroundings while setting up. 

"When you get to a jobsite, you pull the Bluetooth device out of the dash, get out and you can start setting up with this device," Spalding said. "You can walk around the crane as you're setting up, looking for obstacles. . . once you have the outriggers and axles locked and the crane is ready to raise up, you press one button and the crane will auto level."

While the unit allows operators to do most of the machine setup and get ready to move, a new option also allows for the machine to be operated by remote control - one remote control unit can work with multiple cranes using the Bluetooth device from that machine, Spalding said. 

"That operator could be standing on a roof while they're placing an air conditioning unit - everything that's on the LICCON system in the cab is displayed on the remote control unit," he said.

An operator can even drive the crane from point to point on the jobsite with the remote control - an added safety measure in crowded spaces, Spalding noted. 

More from Cranes & Lift

ICUEE 2019: What to see at the demo expo, part four

ICUEE, the International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition, will take place October 1-3 in Louisville, Kentucky. ICUEE is the utility industry's largest trade show, covering 28+ acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits, and bringing together more than 18,000 utility professionals every two years.

ICUEE 2019: What to see at the demo expo, part three

ICUEE, the International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition, will take place October 1-3 in Louisville, Kentucky. ICUEE is the utility industry's largest trade show, covering 28+ acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits, and bringing together more than 18,000 utility professionals every two years.

First Demag AC 45 City deployed in North America

"Large lifting companies with multiple cranes have options to get jobs done. I don't have that luxury," comments Steve Kelly, owner/operator of Steel Giraffe LLC. The Portsmouth, R.I.-based "boutique" crane company doesn't search out the typical residential and commercial construction projects. Rather, Steel Giraffe completes specialized lifting projects, and 90 percent of its lift jobs fall within a 30-mi (48-km) radius of the headquarters location.

Manitowoc launches strong and versatile Potain MCT 325

Manitowoc has launched the Potain MCT 325 to further expand its popular MCT range of topless cranes. As with other cranes in the range, the MCT 325 is designed to deliver easier transport and assembly, plus high efficiency and reliability on construction projects. The company unveiled the new crane during a special event at Manitowoc's factory in Zhangjiagang, China on August 29, where the 16 t version of the MCT 325 was displayed with its full 75 m jib. 

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Get our newsletter

Learn more

Terex Utilities to demo products & technology at ICUEE

Terex Utilities will feature a range of technologies and equipment during the 2019 International Construction & Utility Equipment Expo (ICUEE) in Louisville, Kentucky. "ICUEE presents a unique opportunity for Terex to engage with customers through live equipment demonstrations," said Joe Caywood, director of marketing. "Likewise, it gives industry stakeholders a chance to identify the product solutions that are important for their success."

Shawmut Equipment opens new facility in Halifax to support demand for Manitowoc cranes

Shawmut Equipment of Canada, one of Manitowoc Crane's dealer partners for success in North America, has opened a new facility in Elmsdale, near Halifax in Nova Scotia. The new location will serve as the company's Canadian headquarters, and comes as demand for its products and services has been constantly expanding in the region. 

Micro 26 – MEC’s next Micro Scissor

MEC Aerial Work Platforms extended its Micro Scissors offering and extensive line of DC electric slab scissors with the all-new Micro 26 slab scissor lift. According to MEC there is strong demand for a traditional construction-duty scissor lift that enables work up to 32 feet with a smaller footprint for easier access and maneuverability. MEC's Micro 26 fulfills this need with its short length of 74 inches, making it superior in its height class with a compact size almost 2 feet shorter in length than other 26 foot scissor lifts in the market.

Terex Utilities updates load alert monitor display

Terex Utilities has updated the monitor display for the Terex Load Alert system. Load Alert monitors and analyzes the truck's jib and platform capacity and boom positions on Terex aerial devices. It provides visible and audible alerts when an overload is detected. 

Terex AWP celebrates milestone in production

Within two months, Terex Aerial Work Platforms (AWP) Changzhou plant will celebrate the production of the 1,000th Genie GS-1330m scissor lift, introduced globally in early 2019, manufactured in the factory. This milestone is a testament to the great success of the facility's production capabilities in China and shows the brand's capacity to ramp-up production to meet high global demand for this product.

Tadano acquisition of Demag Mobile Cranes ushers in new era

Tadano Ltd. completed its $215 million acquisition of the Demag Mobile Cranes business on August 1. The transaction brings together two of the top names in the lifting equipment industry - each well known for safety, quality, innovation, and performance. The Tadano and Demag brands now leverage a long combined history of manufacturing and lifting experience. Working together, we will push forward, innovate, and contribute to the success of our customers worldwide.

Magni reaches new heights with Liebherr

Magni's company history is short, but nonetheless astonishing: in just five years, the Italian manufacturer has become the premium provider of rotary telehandlers. These machines make load handling easy at heights of up to 46 metres, with impressive flexibility, precision and safety - not least thanks to the three-stage slewing drives from Liebherr Components. The Italian-German partnership is, therefore, a win-win situation for both companies.

Raimondi releases heavyweight luffing tower crane

Raimondi Cranes has unveiled the latest heavyweight addition to its advanced luffing range, the LR372. Equipped with Raimondi's next generation high performance winches, the LR372 is a 370 ton-metre class luffing tower crane with a maximum jib length of 60 metres and a maximum capacity of 20,000 kg in two falls configuration. At the maximum radius, the LR372 can lift 3,795 kg using Ultralift mode, making this Raimondi's most powerful luffing crane to date. 

Subscribe to our free magazine

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more

Manitowoc adds B.C. and eastern U.S. dealers to EnCORE program

Manitowoc has added two new partners as EnCORE certified hydraulic cylinder repair specialists in North America. Select Fluid Power (Langley, British Columbia, Canada) and Ring Power Crane (Riverview, Florida) expand the EnCORE certified coverage network for Manitowoc's hydraulic cylinder repairs and return program, bringing the total to four partners across North America. 

The benefits of using certified EnCORE repair shops include: 
  • Cylinders are warrantied for a full year.
  • Cylinders are restored to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications.
  • Only OEM parts are used for repairs.
  • Cylinders are refurbished to like-new condition. 

Three things to know about the ANSI experience

The industry has been alive with discussion over the past couple of years about the new ANSI standards and the changes to the design, training, and safe use of what's now known as Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs). Many OEMs have published papers on the upcoming changes to their equipment but, now that these machines are in production, it's time to focus on the ANSI experience. 

First Canadian Demag 300-6 all-terrain crane commissioned by Modern Crane

Milton, Ontario based Modern Crane received Canada's first Demag AC 300-6 all terrain crane. The company purchased the new crane from Terex Cranes distributor, Cropac Equipment, and plans to use it to assemble tower cranes. Modern Crane is a division of the Pumpcrete Corporation, which is highly active in the heavy lifting, concrete pumping sectors, heavy haul and transportation.

Enerpac introduces new self-locking cube jack

The Self-Locking Cube Jack from Enerpac offers a new compact and portable hydraulic solution for incremental lifting and lowering of heavy loads. The SCJ-50 Cube Jack uses a base lifting frame and self-aligning, lightweight steel cribbing blocks to provide high-capacity and stabilized lifting - offering a safer, controlled and more efficient alternative to climbing jacks with wooden cribbing.

Terex adds new commercial team for rough terrain and tower cranes

Terex Cranes announces the formation of a new commercial team to manage the sales, support and training efforts for Terex rough terrain (RT) and tower crane lines in the Americas. Long-time Terex team member, Chris Johnson, will direct efforts for North America, while Manuel Vicuña Galarreta has been tapped to drive growth in Central and South America. Both will report directly to recently appointed Global Director of Sales for Tower Cranes and Rough Terrain Cranes, Lee Maynard. 

Genie adds two more XC models to telescopic boom lineup

Genie's S-40 and S-45 telescopic booms have been updated to incorporate Genie Xtra Capacity (XC) features. The new Genie telescopic S-40 XC and S-45 XC booms now offer a dual-lift capacity of 660 pounds (300 kg) unrestricted and 1,000 pounds (454 kg) restricted, giving these aerial lifts the ability to perform a wider range of heavier lift tasks on construction and industrial jobsites. These models can work with up to three people in the platform while still leaving room for tools and jobsite materials. 

High and mighty: an in-depth report on all-terrain cranes

All-terrain cranes are big machines designed for specialized applications, whether that is construction and maintenance in the oil fields, assembling tower cranes, or lifting HVAC units to the top of buildings. There are many things to consider when bringing an all-terrain crane to a jobsite – including road and bridge regulations, safety and training for the operators, and space on the jobsite in more condensed areas, as well as the costs that go beyond the sticker price of the equipment. We asked a panel of industry experts to share their insight on these topics and more.

Subscribe to our free newsletter

Get our newsletter

Learn more

Liebherr launches MK 88-4.1 mobile construction crane

Liebherr updated its existing four-axle crane and presented the new MK 88-4.1 at Bauma 2019. The additional number at the end of the product name reflects the 4 axles and that it is the first version of this crane type. Featuring proven MK technology, this mobile construction crane is even more powerful and flexible than its predecessor. This is especially evident in a luffed jib position.

Skills Ontario gets a lift from Skyjack

Skyjack has partnered with long-term customer Battlefield Equipment Rental to give setup crews a lift at the 30th Skills Ontario Competition. The two-day event kicked off May 6 at the Toronto Congress Centre and includes over 2,400 competitors and more than 500,000 square feet of action, demonstrations, and inspiration.

Ontario rental business is first in Canada to offer unique Almac tracked scissor lift

Rental has been growing at an exponential rate for years and its growth is expected in the near future to continue to outpace both gross domestic product and general construction activity. The American Rental Association forecasts equipment rental revenue will grow from $5.35 billion in 2018 to $6.125 billion in 2021, which translates into growth rates between four and five percent each year. 

Subscribe to our free magazine

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more