In translation wheels, toothed wheels have been replaced by drive-shaft wheels. From the use of materials like C45, now modular casting has become almost universal, with the advantage of higher resistance EN-J51060 and EN-J51070, and better self-lubrication, for standard cranes. In special cranes, forged materials have found their way, as has induction surface tempering. It is only in the last twenty-five years of the 20th century that crane manufactures made widespread use of the electric, electronic, automatism and communciation technologies. End carriages (also in translation movements), cells against impacts, load limiters, radio controls and even motor control by variation gearboxes became common. 21st CENTURY: A NEW INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Here at GH, we thought it is very clear where the next step would be taken: in the field of communciation technology. We entered the 21st century with the still living reults of the electronic and communication technologies, that brought about a new perspective to industrial development in the 21st century, which some call industry 4.0, others consider it a new Industrial Revolution, whereas for others it is the development of smart machines. All technological advances follow their own development and none replaces any other. The materials technologies advance, among ohers, with the development of additive manufacturing or 3-D printing, which consists of the manufactuing of solid, three dimensional objects by laying out a superposition of successive layers of material until the desired figure is built. We also have innovations based on electric and electronic technologies, such as controls and sensors and communication with simpler, more easily accessible technologies. How is this affecting crane manufacturing, and how will it affect it in the future? Some changes appear clear, and bring us closer to the concept of “the smart crane”: Energetic efficiency. By using recently developed, high efficiency motors, we reduce energy loss considerably, and this supposes a significant reduction in costs as energy is economised during the machine’s service life. Similarly, by using regenerative drives, the energy that comes from the braking process is not dissipated as heat as used to be done, but recovered and put back in the system. Self-diagnosis As sensors and operation controls are developed, the machine will be able to diagnose itself. The weighing cells will indicate the load being handled at a time and the number of overloads. Together with the time- and cyclecounters, they will tell us if they are working within the parameters they were designed for or if those need to be changed. Interactive communication with people in real time. They will tell us when they need to be serviced or when one of the pieces needs to be replaced. The temperature and intensity sensors will indicate if something is not OK. It will even be designed to adopt solutions if redundancies have been preprogrammed. The machine will be able to communicate with the operator or with technical assistance via radio, via smartphone or via GPRS. We will even have the chance to act on it remotely, or diagnose and set up solutions for its optimal performance. Communicate with other machines. Receive the answer of the technical assistance operator. Some will define the smart crane as a crane that is able to detect a problem and solve it. Anyway, it is obvious that a machine by itself lacks intelligence. But it is also true that, with the help of some sensors programmed by humans, it will be able to self-diagnose and even to prevent manoeuvres that might be dangerous for the people around and for itself. TOWARDS THE SMART CRANE? So far, everything is in the market and we have tried to incorporate these innovations in our productive processes. In GH, we try to standardise them and to integrate them in our machine as far as possible. However, even if the machine is able to detect problems and self-diagnose – and even to tell us about possible solutions – even if it is able to start redundancies to prevent dangers or keep working, even then, its final repairs will be programmed or done by people, some way or the other. That is, then, the next question: how it communicates with us, with the operator, with technical assistance, or even with other cranes and how people communicate with it. Here is where communication technology steps in. We can have the information decentralized or even centralized within the crane itself, via modbus, wifi or radio, and from the crane’s control center we can access all the information with a USB port, computer, via radio to the radio control’s display or via wifi to a smartphone or via telephone to a smartphone or to the central office of its authorized assistance service. Only knowing our past can we project our-and that’s what we’re doing at GH.
GH News 16
To see the actual publication please follow the link above