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Automatic Cranes

03.04.2017 von Achim Altmann

The question of whether it is worth installing an automatic crane in a company is usually quite simple to answer. As a general rule, an automatic crane is always worth considering when large parts or heavy materials need to be transported within a plant and/or with frequently recurring processes. This is the case in many industries including the steel and construction supply industries, the woodworking and paper making sectors, the chemicals industry and in power plants and oil refineries. In the latter of these examples, it is important to produce specially manufactured models with explosion protection. An automatic crane can act as an interface between the production area and warehouse within a plant.

What can an automatic crane do?

Automatic cranes can do much more than just transport heavy loads. For example: a destination can be specified, towards which the crane will move from virtually any starting position. At the same time, it will circumnavigate predefined projecting edges – such as other machines, offices, storage racks and the like. In this way, the automatic crane executes a predefined production cycle, moving a vast range of materials (wood, stones, boxes, scrap, biomass, etc.) from one location to another. In order to ensure that the load, which usually weighs several tonnes, does not swing during transport, it is generally lifted prior to horizontal movement. The position can also be adjusted using an electronic control system, avoiding any swaying movement in the load.
What are the advantages of an automatic crane?

Automating the processes affords a number of different advantages. These may include:

- Reductions in necessary manpower
- The physical and psychological demands on employees are reduced
- Three-shift operation is possible without the hiring of additional staff
- Damage resulting from collisions is avoided
- Cycle times are reduced
- Processes are executed with the utmost precision
- Efficiency and productivity are increased

On balance, automatic cranes help to speed up internal transport operations, reduce downtime and increase production. Higher production volumes can in turn open up new market potential.

A worthwhile investment

Although installing an automatic crane or converting an existing crane does require a certain initial investment, it soon pays for itself. The automatic crane not only saves on labour costs, but thanks to the introduction of a three-shift model, it also enables a higher throughput, less waste and reduced wear. And the lower running costs should not be forgotten, either.


Customised automatic cranes

Every company is different and the conditions on site are not always ideal for installing an automatic crane. That is no obstacle, though, because cranes can be custom-designed and adapted to challenging conditions. For instance, if space in a production hall is limited, an automatic crane can be adapted precisely for that space. As a result, production can be increased whilst maintaining spatial conditions without having to build an extension to the production hall or undertake other major modifications.

Automatic cranes can be produced with a fully automatic or semi-automatic system as required. A semi-automatic crane promises complete flexibility, because processes or parts of processes can be automated whilst retaining the option for manual intervention by an operator at any time. The decision as to which type of crane would be best must always be based on individual circumstances.

In addition, every kind of automatic crane is also available in a variety of configurations – for example, in steel, stainless steel or aluminium, with a belt, wire rope or chain hoist, with remote control or control pendant. Crane trolleys, walkable bridge girders, load indicators, process visualisations, warehouse management, energy recovery and much more is also possible.

An automatic crane can therefore be adapted very specifically to suit different plants and user requirements and is ultimately an ideal option for increasing operational productivity in the long term.