Taking control of business

13 November 2014


The radio remote control segment of the material handling industry is a competitive marketplace. Ergonomic design, lightweight construction and, of course, reliable technology are key facets to this ever-changing sector

Radio remote controls are an integral component of the material lifting sector and remain one of the unsung heroes of the material handling world, particularly in the field of overhead factory cranes.

To the naked eye, the technology is moving in evolutionary steps, rather than revolutionary, but even the most minor upgrade to technology in this field can catalyse a significant improvement when it comes to an end-user's operational productivity.

Innovative technology

Recently, Ikusi released the latest iteration of its TFT/LCD displays of its I-Kontrol range of remote controls. Version 3.0 incorporates a new "CANopen" return that is claimed to increase the possibilities of visualising the information from a PLC.

Text format information is shown in 4x20 characters, with or without LEDs, or in 2x10 characters with leds, the company said.

The new display is also claimed to offer the possibility of presenting information graphically, by using different icons that can be chosen from an image galley, in four different formats: 1, 2 or 4 icons on display at the same time.

"An important increment in the potential visualisation formats and the degree of customisation and userfriendliness of the information shown that will be available for the whole range of I-Kontrol remote controls," the company added.

Such is the standing of the company that Konecranes recently appointed South Shields-based Industrial Remote Controls as its preferred controls supplier in the UK.

The business partnership will enable the manufacturer to further tap into the growing demand for wireless radio remote control technology.

The agreement focuses on a trio of products manufactured by Ikusi, namely its two slim line handheld units, the 8000 500 and 8000 520, as well as its top-ofthe- range 'belly' Ikoncontrol 3 system. These controls will be offered as cobranded products.

Collaborative controls

The company's 500 model is pitched as a classic control unit for all types of lifting operation, while the 520 offers multiple configurations on what is a compact transmitter.

These products offer high-sensitivity, two-step push buttons. While the highly customisable 550 model features a newly designed M070 joystick, which is "perfect" for when service meets design.

Pat Campbell, Konecranes' director of market area West Europe, said: "Radio remote controls are fast becoming the norm in the lifting world, largely due to the fact that not only do they provide greater operating flexibility, they are much safer for the operator to use as they do not have to enter the area where an overhead crane or hoist is working.

"Furthermore, as it is the younger age that we are now seeing coming through, it is console technology that they are very comfortable with. If you combine this with the fact that radio remote controls are only set to deliver increased functionality, it is vitally important that Konecranes works closely with a leader is this field - in this instance Ikusi."

Exceeding expectations

According to Oliver Meister at radio controls specialist HBC Radiomatic, the main challenge for an established company such as HBC is one that remains the same, identifying the requirements and needs of its customers and transforming them into products that "exceed their expectations".

This means, amongst others, to continue creating decisive benefits for our customers based on general developments in mobile communications. For example, the display technology in control systems has become more and more sophisticated. The size of the display, colour indication as well as easy, individual configuration offer a whole range of new possibilities for displaying diverse information items," he explains.

Meister added: HBC-Radiomatic has launched several innovations in the last few months. A major highlight is our live camera assistance with radiomaticR photon. This new feature enables the clear display of live camera images on the radio control and can work with several cameras simultaneously.

Working environment

They can be installed anywhere on the machine or in the working environment and transmit live images to the 3.5 ? display of the control unit with a range of up to 150 meters. The operator always has a good view of the machine and the working environment, even if there are dead spots or other obstacles."

According to HBC, with its technos 2, the company presents a new radio control with color display and many useful additional functions in an ergonomic housing for the convenient control of most diverse cranes and other machinery. The transmitter features a convenient 3.5 ? TFT for the indication of operational data and many valuable, optional features, such as the new radiomaticR photon feature for the safe control of machines in areas with limited view.

Elsewhere, its spectrum E transmitter is a "high-performing" radio control is ideally suitable for many different types of applications with an enormous range of functions.

The new device comes standard with an individually configurable 3.5" color TFT allowing for the clear indication of important machine data, status information, and warnings. It can also be used with the new radiomatic photon feature.

Another manufacturer, Magnetek recently launched a new line of lightweight miniature transmitter that are claimed to retain many of the capabilities found in Magnetek's standard wireless controls.

Graphic display

Central to this is its Mini-MBT transmitter that is one of the "smallest and lightest bellybox" controls available on the market at present. The USP of the Mini-MBT is that it couples the functionality found in bellybox transmitters such as toggle switches, potentiometers, graphic display, twoway feedback but also fits easily in an operator's hands.

Another Magnetek product, the Mini- PGT is said to incorporate the latest electronic technology in a compact, pistol-grip transmitter. Designed for use when controlling valve applications on telescoping cranes, service cranes, and stationary

concrete pumps, the system features a "strong, ergonomically designed handle" that provides a natural feeling hand grip and an LCD screen display.

Eugene Novak, radio controls development and product manager at Magnetek, said: "Our new line of mini wireless controls, the Flex Mini, Mini-MBT, and Mini-PGT, expands our portfolio of wireless control products so customers can choose the exact functionality, size, and style that fits their applications.

"They provide many of the capabilities and configuration options found in our full-size transmitters in smaller, lighter packages, making them easy and comfortable to use.

Elsewhere, Laird continues to enjoy success with its operator control units designed for use in explosive environment. These safe operator control units, known as the LRC-M1-IS and the LRC-L1-IS are approved for use in highly explosive such as oil and gas rig environments as well as petroleum processing and chemical engineering plants.

A key part of the CattronControl family of remote control systems for cranes and lifting equipment, the new units arrive in the form of the LRC-M1-IS, which is a mid-sized unit, while the LRCL1- IS is a full sized product.

"Our customers safety and productivity were the top priorities in developing intrinsically safe remote controls for use in these hazardous environments. To meet the needs of a variety of customers, we were able to design multiple models for a range of applications that not only deliver safety, but increase efficiency and reduce costs for our customers as well," explains Rick Morse, senior vice president for Laird

HBC-Radiomatic: Controls specialists
Magnetek Mini-PGT and Mini-MBT
Laird technology