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Overhead Crane Modernization

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Overhead Crane Modernization

Why Modernize an Existing Overhead Crane

There are several reasons for overhead crane modernization, especially when it comes to old bridge cranes. Older cranes lacked the technology we possess today. Combine modern structural components with updated crane modifications and controls, and you'll experience the increased speed, efficiency and lifespan of an existing crane that is structurally sound. Older cranes equal obsolete parts. This leaves you with the potential for long lead times, extended down time, and most likely a high cost to replace.

Benefits of Mechanical Upgrades

As a crane manufacturer, we design structural steel cranes and runways every day. It is common to design steel to a factor of safety that most cranes will never see. Cranes have been designed this way for years. So while the structural integrity of the crane may be just fine, the mechanical components like the gearboxes, gears, bearings, brakes, etc. are most likely worn down. Modern machining capabilities combined with solid modeling software can produce lighter parts with much tighter tolerances. These tight tolerances reduce vibration and help run cranes smoother, quieter and extend their lifespan.

Two Common Upgrades:

  • By utilizing flux vector controls on the hoist motor, you can eliminate the need for the mechanical load brake. Mechanical load brakes have a tendency to be high wear items, run hot, and can be a source of headaches for plant maintenance personnel. Flux vector controls uses electronics to monitor the position of the hoist wire rope. If movement occurs, the drive can detect and correct the problem.
  • Upgrading your brakes in combination with the upgrade of a flux vector controls on the crane, the brake acts more as a setting brake than a true brake. This allows the brakes on the system to last much longer. In recent years, brake technology has drastically improved. Antiquated bearing designs have been replaced with self-lubricating composite bearings that can stand up to shock loadings and corrosive environments.
  • Old style hydraulic brakes can now be controlled with electronics. Cab operator cranes can simulate foot pedal braking by utilizing 0-10 VDC controlled foot pedals that proportionally control braking torque through a VFD. This brake by wire method eliminated the environmental and reliability issues that are common in hydraulic brakes.

Why Technology Has Made Complete Crane Control Modernization a Game Changer

  • The days of contactor controls and single speed cranes are a thing of the past. As we see technological advancements in our daily lives, the advance in electrical engineering has made overhead cranes more precise pieces of equipment. Things like flash memory, powerful processors, and advance algorithms have allowed controls to get smarter. Now using advanced algorithms, users can use open look vector precisely control motors with no need for sensors. The ability to use flash memory allows users to monitor error codes and copy crane programming. Thus, users can drastically reduce down time when a failure occurs, and can program several cranes quickly.
  • Utilizing VFD controls drastically lowers the required starting currents of AC induction motors. Lowering loading equals lowering wear, which equals longer lifespan of expensive equipment.
  • Modern Controls allow for programmable acceleration and deceleration times, making the crane operate smoother and taking the load off of all the wearable crane components.
  • Crane specific software has allowed for communication and monitoring like never before. Using current networking technology, now users can monitor crane function from their seats in a control room. HMI displays give operators control at the touch of their fingers.
  • When paired with encoder feedback, current crane controls can give the operators up to a 1000:1 speed choice range. This is extremely beneficial in applications where a very large piece of machinery has to be precisely placed. For example, this is ideal for turbine replacement in a powerhouse.

Let TSOC Perform Your Crane Runway Extension

With relationships with almost every equipment supplier in the crane industry, TSOC can reverse engineer your current system to provide a runway extension to fit the exact application. TSOC has 1 structural engineer and 2 mechanical engineers on staff that take the guess work out of crane loadings. We can calculate exact loadings using high level structural engineering software to ensure you are getting exactly what is needed.

Protect Your Equipment - Put In a No Fly Zone

Do you worry about your crane technicians running into an expensive piece of equipment or an in plant office. TSOC can eliminate that worry by creating a no fly zone in your work space. Using mechanical or electric sensors, we can monitor crane location and feed it back to the crane controls. Should you start to enter an undesirable location, we can stop the movement of the crane and only allow it to reverse course back to the safe travel areas.

Install a Crane Sway Control System (SCS)

TSOC can setup and configure a crane sway control system (SCS), that will provide increased safety, functionality, simplicity, flexibility and efficiency. Sway control systems (SCS) that are properly designed and adjusted can reduce crane load sway by 85 to 95%; reducing the risk of property damage, personal injury, operator fatigue, and the need for extensive operator training. According to field tests, an overhead crane sway control system improves productivity by 25 to 50%. It does this by allowing the crane operator to use full speed commands for all crane motions resulting in shorter cycle times.


Upgrading a DC Controlled Crane

Older DC Cranes typically use contactors to switch regenerative currents to resistor banks to dissipate heat. All the moving parts required to do this typically create maintenance nightmares of technicians. Magnetek's DC controls give you options.

  • Users can maintain their DC Power and use DC drives to control crane motors
  • Users can make the switch to AC Power, keep their control wiring, and upgrade the drives to convert the incoming AC to DC
  • Users can replace their DC drives with lower cost AC motors and controls.

When Is It Right To Upgrade To An Automated Crane

If your factory is repetitively lifting loads in a similar fashion all day, it might be time to look at the ROI that comes with automating a crane. Modern motors with encoder feedback allow for more accurate speed and spotting control. Simple overhead crane modernization and automation solutions can include distance detection, crane dispatch capabilities, skew control, and collision avoidance. Looking for a solution or in need of a crane and hoist inspection, give TSOC a call.

TSOC has the service and know how to modernize your out of date cranes; serving clients from coast to coast, Canada, Mexico and especially focused in the states of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa, and Oklahoma.

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