Crane Services Ltd of Amblecote, Stourbridge, UK – due to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year – has won its biggest ever order which, it said, is thanks to an internet marketing campaign.

Just weeks after beginning the campaign, Crane Services received an enquiry via their website to design and build a large scale specialist computer controlled handling system for one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of decorative concrete slabs.

Managing director Rob Lewis said: “We were extending our range of products and services with the introduction of a competitive new range of Flex radio controls for overhead lifting equipment and machinery, and we needed a method of marketing the new product. In addition to the more traditional methods we decided to experiment with web advertising.”

Crane Services decided to run a series of paid for advertisements on one of the internet’s search sites. “Because we were just testing the water we chose a very small budget, but right from day one the level of enquiries surprised us,” added Lewis.

Within weeks, a web enquiry for a one-off handling system, designed and built specially to move moulds of concrete slabs in and out of a drying shed at a large slab manufacturing facility in the UK had been converted into the biggest single commission Crane Services has ever received.

The machine, which is computer controlled, lifts and stacks moulds of wet concrete in a drying facility and then removes them when dry on a first in first out rotation ready for packing and delivery. The handling system picks up rows of 14 moulds, each containing nine slabs which are then stacked 60 high in up to 16 stacks.

The system will work 24 hours a day, six days a week, fully automatically. The complex electrical control system required two months to install and test utilising advanced proximity detection equipment with fibre optics, encoder feedback and load sensing equipment.

“The control system was a real challenge,” continued Lewis, “not least because the reliability required in the hot, damp atmosphere of the drying shed required a high level of electrical protection and wiring integrity.”

Due to the atmosphere, the use of electronic and inverter drives was minimised and the Demag motor technology was used to cope with high speeds and ardous cycle requirements. The hoisting mechanism utilised a novel chain system designed for long term reliability and low maintenance.

It is planned that the computer system will monitor the conditions and operation of the crane and will generate emails logging faults whenever they occur.

“The equipment is so large that we had to take extra factory space in order to assemble the equipment prior to delivery,” said Lewis. He continued: “The truck and trailer required for the 24m long load required rear steering to negotiate the narrow roads leading to the customer’s factory. A few road signs required temporary removal, but on the whole the exercise went smoothly, thanks to the professionalism of the transport company.”

To advertise on the Hoist website contact advertisement manager Steve Bromley on tel: +44 (0)20 8269 7867, email:, or business development manager Mark Bridger on tel: +44 (0)20 8269 7746, email: