Welcome to The Hoist Guy's Blog, where our resident Hoist Guy, Andrew T. Litecky, shares his knowledge and experience of many years in the overhead material handling industry. Today he’s here to discuss overhead crane and hoist controls and the different controllers and accessories that can make the process of handling equipment and materials much safer.
Controllers & Accessories for Improved Crane & Hoist Safety
A customer recently ordered an engineering study to streamline 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 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. The customer needed to improve the system without changing the footprint of the production floor
We offered three key changes for better productivity and safety:
- Electric-powered hoists
- Variable Frequency Drives
- Remote controls that allowed for synchronized lifting
Let’s take a closer look at each of our recommendations for improved crane safety and control.
1. Electric-Powered Hoists
The customer’s first main problem was their use of air-powered hoists. While this type of equipment has 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 a 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.
3. Synchronized Remote Controls
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 remote controllers 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.
Benefits of Remote Hoist & Crane Controls
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.
Crane Controls, VFDs, Accessories & System Upgrades
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.