13 months ago


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Closing the automation

Closing the automation gap CRANES AND HOISTS During a visit to a trade fair, we was made aware of the Spanish company, Elebia, and its innovation – an automatic crane hook. In an interview with Oscar Fillol Vidal, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Elebia Autohooks S.L.U., we found out about the benefits this development has to offer users. In 2006, your company built the first prototype of the automatic crane hook for which you gained a patent in 2007. Why did you develop the automatic crane hook? A decade ago, I owned a company with my brother where we required cranes for operational purposes. When it came to buying new cranes, I noticed that every part of the lifting process, except for attaching the load to the crane hook could be automated on the new systems, however, at the end of the day a person always had to manually hook the load on to the crane hook. This is when I decided to develop a solution with which this task could be automated, while particularly focusing on productivity and safety during the handling process. After reflecting for a while, I drew the initial sketches and created blueprints. Based on this work, I created the first functional model made of Lego Technic building blocks. We then implemented it in iron and steel and developed the first automatic crane hook. WORLD OF INDUSTRIES – INTRALOGISTICS & DISTRIBUTION 2/2017

newly developed eMax remote control, the operator can view a lot of information, such as overload warnings, the attached weight or the hook status, on the large color display of the transmitter. The relevant log file with all of this information can be sent to a computer so that other employees within the company can use it. For which application areas, capacities and loads is the remote controlled crane hook suitable? The productivity of crane operations can be improved with the automatic crane hook As mentioned at the beginning, the original idea and its implementation was developed to automate the process of attaching large sacks at the company we had at the time. As word spread about our development, we were soon receiving inquiries from the construction industry. Our design of the remote-controlled crane hook is well-suited for cranes that always work in a defined environment, including indoor cranes in various industry sectors. In principal, the automatic crane hook can be implemented anywhere where a repetitive processes is implemented. Nowadays, the main areas of application are in the steel, wind turbine, port, mining, and general construction sectors. Our customers include companies such as Cern, Siemens, Michelin, Boeing, SpaceX, Enercon and Vestas. In line with the varied applications, our range of hooks now covers a load capacity spectrum of five to 25 tons and we are currently working on solutions for higher load capacities. In an age of increasing digitization, exchanging data along the value-added chain is becoming increasingly important. Is the automatic crane hook suitable for this? What should an automatic crane hook be like? A tool that enables the crane operator to remotely attach and remove loads from the crane hook. The remote-controlled hook uses its magnets to generate a magnetic field that automatically pulls in and aligns the rings and straps. The operator simply presses a button on the remote control that closes the hook, holds the carrying strap and lifts the load without any manual intervention and all controlled from a safe distance. In this context, it is important for me to emphasizes that safety was a top priority during the development. The design of the automatic crane hook is fail-proof. The productivity of crane operations can also be improved with the automatic crane hook, and in this context we have leveraged further potential. To all intents and purposes, we have implemented a brain in the hook by equipping it with a load cell. The crane hook is thus developed into a weighing hook. Combined with our Yes, definitely. As I had already mentioned, we are developing the automatic crane hook further into a source that can provide information. In conjunction with the eMax remote control units, we believe that there is still great potential to improve the processes even against the backdrop of digitalization. We are currently working on the identification and traceability of the attached goods. To this end, our crane hooks will be equipped with a RFID antenna that will be able to read tags attached to the loads. This could also be used to keep a record of the lifting accessories, such as round slings and chains. We started working on the associated projects in 2015. In the context of the three-year project, we are confident that we will present the first fully functional work units in 2017. With your headquarters in Barcelona, how does your company operate in Germany, Austria and Switzerland? We operate in these countries via Elebia Deutschland GmbH. We also use sub-distributors in the countries you referred to. The questions were put to Oscar Fillol Vidal, CEO and founder of Elebia, by Winfried Bauer, the editor-in-chief of World of Industries – Intralogistics & Distribution Photographs: Elebia WORLD OF INDUSTRIES – INTRALOGISTICS & DISTRIBUTION 2/2017


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