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Semi-automatic cranes from Altmann

Repetitive tasks that are performed in an unchanging sequence of steps but still require the attention of an operator can be partly automated without difficulty. Processes are performed according to a defined sequence of steps, with the semi-automatic crane remaining completely capable of manual operation at all times and without loss of flexibility.

Photo: Semi-automatic crane for tool changes with gap sizes of < 3 mm between system components.

The semi-automatic crane’s control system allows only logically correct operation of the crane, thereby supporting its operator, who can concentrate on his or her tasks and the product while the process chain is monitored by the control system.

Photo: Control system for a semi-automatic crane with PLC (programmable logic controller) and frequency converters connected with Profibus

Semi-automatic cranes: faster processes, less damage

Wherever it is impossible to completely block off the hazard area because people are present there, a semi-automatic crane is the right choice. The control system allows only the next correct step, for instance moving to a target position along a defined route, and requires constant approval by the operator. Without this approval, the crane stops and transitions to a safe system status. If the operator moves the semi-automatic crane into a collision zone during manual operation, it will stop automatically.

Benefits of semi-automatic cranes:

  • Collision avoidance with obstacles (e.g. shelves, machinery, fixtures) stored in the control system
  • Reduction of damage caused by collisions
  • Faster processes
  • Reduced stress for operators

A suitable choice of sensors makes automation of the following crane tasks possible:

  • Movement to a nearly unlimited number of positions with millimetre precision
  • Picking up and setting down loads
  • Load swaying prevention (sway damping)
  • Transfer of attached load or other process variables to a higher-level control system.

Control system programming for such semi-automatic cranes is subject to particularly demanding requirements. Since the operator can intervene in the process in unforeseen ways at any time, the control system has to constantly monitor the condition of the crane and the process, permitting only logical commands and thus preventing errors.

Planning for special-purpose cranes by Altmann

The basis for planning a semi-automatic crane is a risk assessment in line with DIN EN ISO 12100:2010 (safety of machinery). Of course we will help you with the planning and work with you – ideally along with your operators – to find the right components and procedures. From the beginning, convincing the crane operators and allaying their reservations is a priority. The successful implementation of a project depends to a large degree on staff acceptance of a semi-automatic crane’s new technology, that they view it as an aid.

In many cases, existing cranes can be retrofitted with automation components, ensuring economical conversion to semi-automatic cranes.

Photo: Retrofitted positioning system with PLC for semi-automatic guidance

Our in-house programming staff and crane experts can provide training and instruction for your crane operators, ensuring successful completion of your project. Our experts are available to answer your questions about the use of semi-automatic cranes at any time.

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