1 April 2022

Face to face meetings are beginning to take hold once again and LEEA has announced the return of its in-person event LiftEx, Jenny Eagle finds out what’s been happening across the UK.

The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) has announced it is looking forward to the return of its LiftEx Exhibition in the UK, (October 5-6) in Aberdeen this year, claiming its the first major opportunity in three years to meet face-to-face with lifting equipment providers.

Visitors will have an opportunity to reconnect with customers, meet new clients and get back to business. The schedule will include sessions on Knowledge Sharing and Industry Insights, discussing topics of recent interest, issues, trends, and recruitment strategies.

As a major stakeholder to the lifting equipment industry, LEEA represents its members on many industry standards. Ben Dobbs, head of technical services, LEEA, explains its objective is to ensure that standards offer the highest level of safety and are practicable to apply, providing its members with a safe and level playing field.

“Often, and due to advances in technology and design or legislation for example, we find it necessary to change industry practices through these standards. Such changes are significant, and it is important that when they are made that we immediately educate and update the industry to ensure smooth transition without consequence for all who are affected. For example; ‘BS 7121-2-7:2012+A2 2022 Code of practice for the safe use of cranes. Inspection, maintenance and thorough examination. Bridge and gantry cranes, including light crane systems’.

“Following publication of the new crane design codes, the EN 13001 series, and the product safety standards for bridge and gantry cranes, EN 15011 and EN 16851, LEEA identified that the traditional industry practice associated with the testing and verification requirements of bridge and gantry cranes following installation or significant modification or repair, could in some cases cause detrimental damage to the crane.

“Many modern cranes are designed to the limit state design principle (EN 13001 series) as opposed to the maximum stress principle of former British design codes (BS2573). The latter approach allows for a more conservative design that could be verified through deflection limit testing. Typically, in this approach, if a crane bridge deflected less than 1/750th of the span then it would have been deemed conforming with the design calculations. However, with the limit state design principle the deflection limit becomes a variable and with some low duty cranes much higher bridge deflections are possible. This is because design is based on stress cycles and a lower frequency of these means that higher stresses can be tolerated for each cycle.

“Unfortunately, following the previous BS 7121-2-7 standard would mean that some limit state design cranes would fail the test. To address this point LEEA pushed for a change to the product safety codes, EN 15011 and EN 16851, such that the manufacturer must now specify the deflection limit to be used in the tests. We also pushed for a change to BS 7121 series to reflect this and the deflection limit is now defined by the manufacturer or in the absence of such information, i.e., for legacy cranes, in accordance to the standards that were available at the time of construction.

“Likewise, the BS 7121-2-7 requires a static overload test and previously this test had to be taken through one complete revolution of the hoisting mechanism and the motion drives. For some low duty cranes designed to the limit state method, the dynamics associated with such a test may induce stresses beyond the design limits and inevitably cause damage.

“The potential for catastrophic failure is assessed as being low, but the cost of damage would not be desirable. To this end the decision was to align the BS 7121-2-7 test method to that of the product safety codes. This means that the new testing method is to test to 110% of the rated capacity at the maximum speeds of the control system. Then without motion of the hoisting mechanism to add the additional static test load of 125% of the rated capacity by external means.”

LEEA has also taken the lead on two other important industry standards; EN 13155 Non-fixed load lifting attachments and EN 13157 Cranes, Hand powered Cranes, explains Dobbs..

“The current EN 13155:2020 has significant errors associated with the test factors required for spreader beams. As these are not properly defined, the standard has been de-harmonised and no longer offers a presumption of conformity to the legal requirements. Due to this fact LEEA is advising its members to apply the previous version of the standard EN 13155: 2003 +A2 2009. Although as a withdrawn standard it also does not offer presumption of conformity, it is complete and does not suddenly become unsafe due to its withdrawn status. It is the most complete and state-of-the-art version there is in LEEA’s opinion,” said Dobbs.

“The primary objective of the revision EN13155 is to correct the errors, but we are also using it as an opportunity to introduce a more pragmatic approach to lifting beam verification. The hope is we will be able to introduce a sliding scale for the design factors, which can be justified by the lower dynamic forces associated with lifting very heavy loads. This is a technique that has long been used and proven to work through the ILO 152 convention.

“With respect to EN 13157 The original standard was a compromise which sought to accommodate the varying practices throughout Europe. The UK was always concerned that it did not adequately cover the essential health and safety requirements of the Machinery Directive and was not state-of-the-art for the UK.

“Also, the quality of the standard was questionable, particularly some of the verification requirements, which lacked the detail required to ensure repeatable results. The illustrations are also very poor and unrealistic. The numbers in column 1 of tables 1-6 inclusive are not explained, but are a mixture, some originating from EN 292-2 which was withdrawn in 2003 and some from EN 1050.

“The new Machinery Directive introduced a technical change in EHSR 4.1.3 requiring static tests to be made on every lifting machine as a general requirement. Previously the static test was expressed only as a design requirement. The amendment to A1 to implement the new Directive did not make this change. The majority of the chain hoists on the market are now manufactured in the Far East, notably China. Over the years they have evolved to become a mass-produced low cost lightweight portable tool. Some are of excellent quality; others are more variable. Experience has shown that the manufacturing quality control of some hand chain hoists, and lever hoists is not adequate to rely on type testing alone and therefore not permissible under the general rule imposed by section 4.1.3 of directive 2006/42/EC.

“Finally, the standard reflects the technology of over a decade ago since when manufacture of many products within the scope has moved outside of Europe and the products and manufacturing methods have evolved with greater emphasis on portability and cost.

“There are new ISO standards for fine tolerance chain (grades TH and VH), which are used by many manufacturers in preference to the European EN 818-7 grade T.

“The varying practices in Europe should have converged in the last decade, but with manufacturing moving out of the developed countries, the result is a greater diversity of product quality available from many more sources of supply. It is therefore an opportune time to review the standard more thoroughly.”

Despite Covid, business has not slowed down for some, including Hoist and Winch, which recently completed a turnkey project for a customer within the building materials industry which hired a 12 ton Safe Working Load (SWL), twin air-powered, trolley-based air hoist for lifting and replacing a large gear weighting 9 tons. This type of hoist was necessary to spread the 9 ton load over a greater distance of the monorail beam bottom flange than a standard hoist trolley arrangement would allow.

The project was unusual in that Hoist & Winch had to first load, test and certify the monorail beam using two separate 6t SWL air hoists and trolleys to support its uprating from 5t SWL to the 9t load. This work was essential before the 9t gear lifts could take place because the 12t SWL, twin air-powered trolley hoist was not designed for negotiating the curved monorail beam section present just after the test load pick-up point and the consultant engineer’s calculations showed the curved monorail beam section was not suitable for bearing the 11.25t proof test load. As a result, the proof test load travelled past the curved monorail beam section separately and divided equally between the two individual 6t SWL air hoists/trolleys. A further challenge was all hoist unit side and headroom dimensional clearances were tight and critical.

From initial consultation and equipment specification - through installation, commissioning and testing - to issuing the LOLER report, delivering handover training and providing maintenance support for the eight-week hire period, Hoist & Winch acted as the technical partner at every stage of the project.

Talking about the current market, Andy Allen, director, Hoist & Winch, said: “The market in general is holding up well at present, both at home and exports, with the UK construction related market appearing strong. However, equipment manufacturers lead times for delivery of some items and particularly electric chain hoists are generally much longer than they were in the past, with items that were previously available in few days now sometimes taking several weeks, making forward planning for end customers much more important than in the past and UK stock holding a key sales factor.”

One company that is using the long delay times to its advantage is Modulift, which has opened a warehouse in the Czech Republic.

The modular spreader beams manufacturer says it now has stock on a next day delivery service to the European market thanks to the new facility, claiming ‘as the European market grows, demand for Modulift’s modular range of DNV Type Approved spreader beams readily available off the shelf has risen sharply’.

The warehouse facility holds stock from MOD 6 up to MOD 400/600 and CMOD corner units. The CMOD corner units are compatible with the struts from the modular spreader beam system, making it versatile for customers looking to achieve multi-point lifts.

Due to Brexit and the unprecedented upheaval this has caused, customers who purchase from Modulift’s Czech warehouse facility can look to receive their order next working day, without the worry of customs paperwork said John Baker, commercial director Modulift.

“With a lot of delays at ports not just in Europe but around the globe, this is the perfect time for Modulift to expand by having a warehouse facility that will be able to provide off the shelf products ready and waiting for customers who urgently need them next working day,” he said.

In other news, Street Crane recently delivered a 25t crane to Selmach Machinery’s headquarters in Hereford, in the UK, as part of plans for a new expansion at the site.

Anthony Bushnell, machinery consultant, Selmach Machinery, said: “Exciting day today with our new 25t Street Crane arriving early this morning and now being put into position ready for commissioning. The new extension is nearing completion thankfully as we desperately need the space.”

The company hired Collins Design & Build, which broke ground in 2021 and the extension will increase its warehouse storage space, allowing Selmach to carry more metalworking machinery stock for its customers.

Dave Hargest, marketing manager, Selmach, explained; “We’re a UK business, that supplies Metal Working machinery, of various sizes, including sheet metal Press Brakes, Fibre Laser cutting, Plasma cutting, Guillotines, Bending Rolls, Section Rolls, Steelworkers among others.

“These machines are by nature quite heavy, and increasingly the machines we’ve been selling are getting bigger and bigger, and we’ve outgrown our existing warehouse, which also has a 12 ton Street Crane in it. To allow us to expand and grow as a company, we’ve received grant funding from the Marches LEP to assist with a £300,000 extension to give us an additional 5,500 sqft of warehouse capacity, adding to our 14,000 sqft of existing capacity. With it, we’ve added a larger capacity crane to give us more flexibility in handling heavy machinery within our warehouse.

“We expect to be using the crane for many years to come, as it will be used to load and unload machinery from our manufacturing factory and onwards transport to our customers. The extra capacity will be of benefit, as we’ve found that increasingly UK businesses have been focusing on bringing their manufacturing and fabrication in-house, whereas they may have previously been outsourcing it abroad, especially to the Far-East. With the impact of covid, the effects on shipping costs and timescales, increasingly the idea of having UK-based manufacturing has grown for a lot of businesses. Bringing this manufacturing back is not only great for the generation of jobs in the UK, but also helps businesses to increase their productivity, their quality, and their timescales. We’re excited to see how the UK manufacturing and fabrication businesses continue to grow into 2022 and beyond, and our expansion will help us to serve our customers further in supplying them with the machinery for their needs.”

Elsewhere, Rope and Sling Specialists (RSS) says it is looking to capitalise on long-term opportunities created by the UK’s revived nuclear power sector.

RSS, a specialist provider of lifting, rigging, and safety equipment, has already played a role in the construction of Somerset’s Hinkley Point C, which began in October 2016, but is likely to secure more work as the site looks set to start generating power in mid-2026. The more embryonic Sizewell C, in Suffolk, is another potential hotbed.

Steve Hutin, managing director at RSS, said: “Hinkley Point has become Europe’s largest civil construction project and it has awoken people’s senses to nuclear power opportunities. EDF hopes that Hinkley will provide a blueprint for Sizewell C—and I can see that happening. Most of the activity at Hinkley has been in the field of civil construction so far but work on-site is set to significantly increase around the installation of mechanical and electrical components and welding.”

Hutin reiterated that Hinkley’s legacy might prove to be that it will re-energise the UK nuclear supply chain through Sizewell C. Notably, RSS is part of the Sizewell C Consortium, which is a group of more than 200 companies and organisations from every corner of the country. Sizewell C will reportedly create 25,000 employment opportunities, up to 1,500 apprenticeships, and provide benefits to as many as 2,500 businesses in every corner of the country.

“As members agree, each day we face different challenges, do different work, and employ a whole host of different people, but we are all united by one goal. UK companies will receive 70% of the project’s construction value: that’s over £14 billion benefitting British businesses and supporting UK jobs and industry,” added Hutin.

“There is a heightened awareness of nuclear opportunities and it’s interesting to note the synergies between projects like Hinkley Point or Sizewell and the other major infrastructure-based mega sites that we’ve also been involved with in recent years.” 

Hutin did little to quash rumours that the company is planning to open its ninth and 10th depots in the coming months, in addition to the eight national locations that already serve customers the length and breadth of the country, from Grangemouth, Scotland to Plymouth in England’s southwest. While he remained tightlipped on locations, Hutin said customers should expect confirmation of continued expansion, “in the near future”.

RSS is buoyed by a favourable business climate, but Hutin said it isn’t without its challenges. “We are in the same boat as everyone else, in that we’re battling rising costs that can hit margins if you’re not careful. It’s certainly a time to keep an eye on the order book to make sure that companies can deliver their products and services but preserve the all-important profit margins and bottom line,” he warned.

Speaking of challenges, Michael Ainsworth, sales and marketing director, Irugasa Power Solutions, says if there is one thing he could say that currently sums up the radio remote control market; it would be the phrase “lead time Is king”, and adds:

“Right now, many of my conversations, particularly with new customers, commence with the sentence “How long is your lead time?”. The well-reported global supply chain issues have had a major impact on delivery times affecting many radio control manufacturers, resulting in lead times often numbering many months.

“Here at Irugasa we have avoided any negative impacts by introducing early proactive steps, cementing our commitment to our customers. Such a step was to increase our major component stock levels by some 70%, a big investment, yet this has allowed us to maintain our lead times on standard product to a few days rather than months.

“As an authorised Danfoss Build Centre, products such as custom-made joystick radio control systems have become somewhat a standard product to us.

“Our Danfoss Build Centre status coupled with the 30 years plus experience of our design and technical teams, affords Irugasa to continue to provide cost-effective and tailor-made solutions with acceptable short lead-times.

“The newly launched Danfoss iKargo 1 and 2 family of radio controls continue to be very positively received by the market. Ergonomically designed with long life Li-ion batteries, our new state-of-the-art product range is proving to be a huge success.

“Customers with existing Danfoss-IKUSI TM70 radio control systems can simply upgrade to a new iKargo without the need to purchase a full new radio system. A perfect scenario that allows our customers to enhance their existing product without the costs involved in purchasing and installing a new radio system.

“2022 sees another huge technical leap by Danfoss with the release of its much-anticipated ‘Multikey’ technology. This utilises RFID technology to add special functions to both our joystick and pushbutton controllers. The ‘Multikey’ negates the requirement for additional selectors, providing a simple and cost-effective enhancement across our transmitter range. The ‘Multikeys’ are removable and interchangeable and can be upgraded later with a simple EEPROM modification. Examples of ‘Multikey’ solutions can be tandem hoist selection, selection of lights, horn etc. and even a combination of these choices.

“As a key Danfoss Partner we also provide a wide range of custom-built radio control solutions across all key market sectors, not just the lifting sector. We are increasingly providing solutions for mobile machine applications; this aspect of our business has been growing steadily year on year as we work closely with our partners in the hydraulics sector.

“We are currently involved in key projects within the important renewables sector. The most exciting for us is a strategic partnership which has produced products that have revolutionised how engineers work on offshore wind turbines, offering increased safety and flexibility.

“Irugasa works tirelessly to enhance our customer’s knowledge of the legislation surrounding the manufacture, supply and use of radio control systems. We have over the last four years supported the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) in its assessment of the impact of the Radio Equipment Directive (RED2014/53/EU), law since 2017. It is vitally important that our customers are educated in all aspects of this legislation in order to avoid the noncompliant radios systems currently finding their way unchallenged into the UK market.

“Another area requiring increased awareness is the management of tandem loads and tandem lifting crane operations. The relevant legislation being EN15011:2011 + A1: 2014 section We have developed an engineered solution to manage these strict requirements called ‘Twin-Synchro’. This system monitors all the relevant crane motions as well as the main contactor, ensuring that should there be any issue affecting safety, the crane will default into a safe mode.

Our company has transitioned over the last five years from a focus solely on radio control solutions to now providing our customers with a gambit of safe lifting orientated products and advice. From remote control and load management solutions, we now include complex load handling and weight monitoring equipment in our portfolio.”

Danfoss Multikey technology.
Modulift has opened a warehouse in the Czech Republic
Street Crane delivers a 25t crane to Selmach Machinery.
Hoist & Winch testing the SWL.
Selmach Machinery is expanding its site.
Street Crane installing Selmach’s crane.
Danfoss Mobile Machine Transmitter.
The newly-launched Danfoss Ikargo range.
Danfoss Ikompact transmitter
Hoist & Winch twin air-powered air hoist..
Photo Irugasa: The Danfoss Radio System in use.
Hoist & Winch replaces a 9 ton gear for a building materials company.
Danfoss radio system