Nucor Corporation, a leading US steel manufacturer, has recently retrofitted cranes at a number of its locations with emergency brakes supplied by Pintsch Bubenzer.

The brakes are particularly suitable for applications with regular critical lifts, such as steelworks, where cranes with capacities in excess of 450t lift ladles of molten metal, to be transported into casting machines.

In a conventional set-up, a brake is only connected to the motor of the crane, whereas emergency brakes are connected to the winding drum, providing an additional safeguard. In the case of an issue occurring, such as a gear shaft fracturing, the emergency brakes will prevent the load from being dropped.

Currently, less than 10% of the cranes in the US steel sector, including new cranes, are fitted with emergency brakes, says Mike Astemborski, regional sales manager at Bubenzer.

“Why would anyone be comfortable about making a critical lift, where a crane is moving an expensive or dangerous load, without an additional emergency, failsafe brake?” says Astemborksi. “A new ladle crane might represent a $7m investment for a steel mill and we’re talking about a potentially lifesaving addition at a tiny fraction of that cost. It’s not about money; end users are prepared to invest in safety systems, but they need to better understand the risks and products available.

“All too often a major incident leads to an investigation that exposes the lack of an emergency brake— but then it’s too late. We need to continue our outreach campaigns and endeavors to educate steel and other professionals so they specify emergency brakes at the earliest stage of dialog with a crane manufacturer. Frankly, an OEM is unlikely to propose a cost-adding feature when it could inflate their bid in a competitive tender situation.” In other sectors,

emergency brakes are more commonplace—ship-toshore cranes, for example, are routinely fitted with brakes on both the hoist and boom motors, adds Astemborksi. Jeff Johnson, crane and mobile lead at Nucor Steel Utah, said: “We have installed Pintsch Bubenzer brakes on our hot metal cranes. This has created redundancy in case of a gear train failure. This is a very cost-efficient solution to provide more safety in our production environment that can be accomplished in a short period of time.

“Pintsch Bubenzer has designed these systems to be a compact unit that needs very little alterations to the existing layout of the hoist and trolley area. I feel that together we have a very good solution that will provide us years of troublefree service.”