States of development

14 March 2019

Product development is ongoing in the US lifting equipment sector. We spoke to some of the manufacturers in the sector about their latest innovations, and their plans for the year.

Air Technical Industries (ATI) has launched its new Portable Jib Crane Articularm, a 360° rotating portable jib crane with articulating forearm and telescopic mast. Its main benefit is portability, says ATI: it can be used anywhere, indoor or outdoor, without permanent installation. It can also operate in collaboration with overhead cranes.

The 360° rotation of the 6ft-long articulating forearm provides full coverage within the work area, while the 10ft main beam also offers full rotation, providing a total working radius of 16ft. To improve ergonomics, it can be fitted with an optional load balancer to make the load ‘weightless’ to the operator. It’s suitable for many industrial applications including machine loading, lifting, transferring,

stacking, packing, holding parts for inspection, assembly, and maintenance. The system is available in three versions: a unit with a stationary, permanent floormounted arm; a portable, self-supporting counterweight jib crane with four-way fork pockets; and a combination unit with telescopic mast. The telescoping mast can be used for actual load lifting without use of a hoist, says the company, as well as being useful for reducing the overall height of the crane for storage or transportation, or for use in confined headroom or higher ceiling heights. The lifting action is hydraulically actuated. Capacities are 500, 1,000 and 2,000lbs, with beam heights of 8, 10, 12, 16 and 20ft.

Demand in the US market is focused on ergonomics ahead of digitalisation, says Vida Novak at ATI: “Our projections on the US market for 2019 are strong, steady, but with mild growth. Demand for material handling equipment is excellent, with plants continuing to modernize their systems and processes to remain competitive.

“More attention is being focused on ergonomics challenges, with customers implementing work positioning or lift assist equipment for smaller and lighter loads than ever. It’s no longer a matter of having a piece of equipment to lift something when there is no other way, but companies are finding the value in reducing back strain and repetitive motions, even when they are within weights that might traditionally be handled manually.

“The focus on productivity and efficiency remains process-oriented and we have not found a huge demand for industrial internet of things or connected devices for monitoring or measuring the equipment. The technology is growing, but adoption remains rare. I’m sure I could be proven wrong comparing against some ultra-modern facilities, however by and large the focus appears to be on getting the job done safety and efficiently rather than making sure you can check the status or turn it on with your smartphone.”

Pennsylvania-based control specialist Cervis will be launching its Warrior HHMS Transmitter in the second quarter of 2019, featuring an ‘Any Step’ switch design. The handheld control incorporates two-, three-, and multiple-step push-buttons—these offer a ‘contactless’ dual and redundant control for the two-step switch, which monitors two inputs for direction sensing, while the threestep switches offer redundant control, and the ‘any step’ package can provide varying speeds either digitally or in an analogue format.

Randy Butter, director of industrial sales at Cervis, explains the benefits of this set-up: “With the release of the ‘Any Step’ solution, the HHMS is a one-of-a-kind handheld that will be capable of many variable features combined in one transmitter. This product will have practically no limitation when it comes to market focus. Cervis will market to crane OEMs to help select the best package that suites the need of the application rather than force a two-speed standard configuration. “Combinations such as two-speed hoist and three-speed trolley & bridge applications can be configurable solutions. Standard preengineered solutions will be available for the crane service and retrofit markets as well.”

Sippel Steel Fab, a structural steel fabrication plant located in Ambridge, Pennsylvania purchased 15 Cervis Warrior Console Box (Warrior CB) systems in 2018, with a further nine in process.

The Warrior CB is typically used in applications of Class C and above. It can link up with several receivers, enabling expanded machine control, and offers radio frequency connectivity between hoists. Cervis is currently customising the Warrior CB range for newly-manufactured cranes, crane modernisation programmes and general upgrade kits, and the replacement of existing or new service applications.

Tim Shank, plant maintenance manager at Sippel Steel, said the Warrior CBs require fewer battery changes. He adds, “Damage to cases, handles and levers are common in the workplace, but these units are very durable.

“The Warrior systems have reduced the maintenance labour and cost required to manage 15 radio systems. If the radio transmitter should need replacing, the simple association process for adding a spare can have the radio running within a minute or two.”

Handling Systems International (HSI) will launch a new product at Promat 2019 in April, says director of business development Bret Lussow. The company is keeping some of the details to itself for now, ahead of the big reveal in Chicago, but Lussow says: “This product will be manufactured at our new facility in McCook, Illinois, and allows us to expand our portfolio in the smaller capacity crane market. With this product and our location in the central US, it will allow us to cover our national dealer base with a 1–2 day shipping point.”

Business in the US is strong, says Lussow, giving his outlook for 2019: “US business is still strong and demand high. We are seeing good business in general industrial applications and from varying distribution types. Challenges continue to be the higher commodity (primarily steel) prices and the continued global uncertainty (Brexit, Global Stock Markets, US International Relations) causing international customers to delay purchasing larger equipment until things stabilize.”

And a recent project highlighted HSI’s versatility: “We recently manufactured some manual cranes, for a single runway, for Wisconsin Lifting Specialists that had a very tight headroom in a room with a sloped ceiling,” says Lussow. “The end user did not want to tie back to the building columns or ceiling, so we manufactured foundationless moment columns, similar to a jib crane, to handle the sway. Advantage of these cranes is that the end trucks can be upgraded to motorized in the future.”

Wisconsin-based Enerpac has introduced the latest addition to its hydraulic gantry product line. The new SL100 and SL200 Super Lift hydraulic gantries offer higher lifting capacities than previous models, and are designed to provide accurate load positioning on a narrow 610mm track gauge.

The SL100 and SL200 have lift capacities ranging from 100t to 200t respectively, and feature two-stage lift cylinders with a maximum lifting height up to 4.75m, on the SL100, and 6.7m on the SL200. Typical industrial applications include the transportation and installation of presses, machine tools, electrical transformers and injection moulding machines.

Designed for safe lifting in confined or limited-access spaces, the SL gantries are easy to mobilise and demobilise, says Enerpac, with self-contained hydraulics for quicker and safer deployment. Each leg features self-propelled wheels for travel along the narrow gauge track, with an Intellilift synchronised control system, providing wireless control, unrestricted operator position, and automatic synchronisation for lifting, lowering and travelling.

“With significant growth in a number of industrial sectors, the SL100 and SL200 models were designed for greater lifting capacities and new applications,” said Peter Crisci, product line director for Enerpac’s Heavy Lifting Technology product line. Enerpac is expanding its range of lifting systems for industrial movers and heavy lift contractors with the launch of new trolley and cube jack systems, and telescopic hydraulic gantries. 

The Articularm portable jib crane from Air Technical Industries offers 360° rotation over a total of 16ft of radius through its main beam and articulating forearm.
The SL200 hydraulic gantry crane from Enerpac, which was launched alongside the SL100.