When looking to purchase cranes for the steel industry, many buyers place too much emphasis on upfront cost but overlook the overall lifetime cost of the cranes that they are going to procure. They may not consider issues such as equipment reliability, historical references, downtime, ease of maintenance, response time and availability of spare parts. In short, buying a piece of equipment is more than looking for supplier – it’s looking for a long term partner.
Steel industry purchases are not a one-off, short term item, and purchasers have to live with the benefit (or liabilities) for a long time. There is no room for short-termism in planning crane efficiency and safety.
This is an industry that rewards good practice with efficiency and uptime and which can be very tough for companies that do not achieve their statutory and workplace obligations.
Short cuts ultimately cost more and risk more. It’s much the same with any sophisticated machinery, only more so with steel and cranes. Good planning, appropriate purchases and efficient maintenance yield outstanding results, eliminating problems before they occur and optimising uptime.
Konecranes’ involvement in the steel industry
Konecranes has a number of cranes and related technologies specifically designed for the steel industry. Technological advances, stricter standards and the rugged nature of the steel industry have led Konecranes to develop even safer and more advanced solutions that also increase the efficiency and productivity of their steel customers.
Konecranes is at the forefront of automation and smart features for cranes that include Sway Control, Target Positioning, Shock Load Control, Safety Zoning and Regenerative Drive Systems. All these features are designed to integrate our equipment with customers’ overall handling systems. The simple objective is to increase productivity, reduce manpower and improve energy saving and environmental targets.
A challenging example
An established steel maker was recently looking for a new 90T Charging Crane to replace a 35 year old crane. The crane needed to be A8M8, very robust, able to survive in an arduous environment and would need to be installed during a very short shutdown period.
Konecranes took on the challenge and equipped the crane with an insulated, double air conditioned Electrical Room so that the PLC and inverters could be protected. The hoisting machinery had drum activated emergency brakes, redundant wire rope and redundant inverters for all motions. Wheels were made with hardened, forged steel. It also had TRUCONNECT, Sway Control and Shock Load Control features installed.
The crane was built off site, fully tested and delivered just before shutdown. The hard work of the whole team meant that the best crane for the job was delivered on time and the customer did not have to experience any additional downtime.
Technology making maintenance tasks less onerous
All of Konecranes’ technology and its smart features are designed to make maintenance as efficient and safe as possible for the customer. This section will focus on three of many examples of this.
Continuous crane monitoring. Previously, maintenance managers had to wait until there was visual evidence of a problem before maintenance/repairs were carried out, or they would perform maintenance according to a fixed schedule. With new technological advances, such as Konecranes’ TRUCONNECT remote monitoring services, the crane’s usage can be monitored in real time, and problems can be identified in advance. This means managers are able to schedule their maintenance around the crane’s usage and fix problems before they occur, greatly reducing the amount of downtime to their operations.
Advances in diagnostic tools. The tools used during crane inspections are far more technologically advanced than they used to be, which means a higher quality of inspection is achieved, and cranes are serviced more accurately, leading to longer service life. For example, Konecranes’ RopeQ diagnostic tool uses electromagnetic technology to assess the inner and outer wires and strands of a wire rope. This testing method achieves reliable, accurate, and repetitive inspection results that ensure safe use and may improve total lifecycle cost.
Another example is Konecranes’ RailQ. It’s highly precise and state-of-the-art survey techniques – coupled with Konecranes-specific software – accurately measures straightness, elevation, rail-to-rail elevation, and span of the rails. The result is a precise, reliable runway analysis that provides cost-effective solutions for any rail system and for all makes and models of cranes, and takes a fraction of the time to conduct as compared to traditional rail surveys.
If you are investing in a steel industry crane, look for one that is durable, reliable, efficient and safe. The amount of downtime saved by selecting a superior crane will often far outweigh any additional costs upfront.
Our job is to continuously educate customers on their evaluation process. As an added value, we also demonstrate to them that IT can be harnessed and make maintenance routines a much easier task for their maintenance crew.
As a final piece of advice, make sure the team you are dealing with know your crane well and are able to service it efficiently. Deal with a business that wants to know your business. They should come out and fully assess your business, your needs and requirements unique to your site before recommending one crane over another. Only then are you truly getting the best crane for the job in the steel industry.