Crane and hoist systems have been squeezed into a cramped aero engine plant as part of an upgrade that has prevented BMW having to move out of its Berlin factory where the BR700 engines are built for Airbus The lifting equipment was supplied and installed by Abus, based near Köln, which claims to produce more than 4,500 cranes a year.

There was little room in the actual production area of the engine factory for materials handling equipment, but it had to be installed because some of the engine components weigh up to 8t and fork lift traffic was already too busy.

Overhead travelling cranes with spans of more than 15m were installed in the production areas above the large process machines. Lightweight crane systems were chosen for the assembly, repair and maintenance areas, where smaller components weighing up to 2t are handled. Quality control areas and test beds were also equipped with modular lightweight crane systems. Where overhead cranes were not feasible, jib cranes were used, either floor or wall mounted, able to carry up to 6.3t. These are particularly popular next to individual work benches in areas not served by overhead cranes.

Due to the value of the components being handled, some cranes were equipped with additional features such as dual speed control on all motions. The Abus ABUliner infinitely variable speed control was fitted to cranes handling high quality rotors, machined to fine tolerances. The ABUliner control allowed the sort of extremely slow and precise lifting and travelling control that this application demanded.

  The ABUliner allows the speed of the motor to be continuously varied, and also has a very low minimum speed for sensitive operations. It is designed to operate smoothly and eliminate load bounce or swing and extends the useful life of the crane motors and supporting structures. Speed variation is achieved by increasing or decreasing thumb pressure on the control pendant buttons.

Other cranes were fitted with a small digital readout in the control pendant which show the operator how much load is on the hook at any one time. This information is produced from a module within the hoist which also acts as an overload protection device, and is capable of calculating the remaining working life of the crane.

Overhead cranes, with a maximum capacity of 1.6t in areas with particularly low ceilings were equipped with the more compact Abus wire rope hoists instead of electric chain hoists, thereby giving an extra 300mm of hook height. For the same reason, three monorails were attached to the underside of a mezzanine floor in a calibration chamber and fitted with the new more compact ABUCompact hoist, which lifts up to 100kg.

The crane systems have a four year warranty and are built to comply with ISO 9001 as standard.