Plant & Works Engineering
Advanced diagnostic techniques for the overhead crane industry
Published:  28 June, 2011

Street CraneXpress has teamed up with Interface Condition Monitoring to bring a new range of advanced diagnostic techniques to the overhead crane industry.

This is a first for the UK. No other crane service provider is currently offering a complete condition monitoring package; an early diagnosis of future component failures to find and fix problems before they even occur. It uses various diagnostic techniques such as vibration monitoring, thermal imaging and oil analysis to get deep under the surface of a crane’s condition to build up a detailed picture of its long term ‘health’ and prevent the vast majority of future breakdowns.

Condition monitoring is not intended to replace the standard preventative maintenance crane service, which is more than sufficient for the average user, picking up on the majority of potential future part failures and areas that are worn. Instead, it is an enhanced offering for very high duty cranes that experience more wear and tear, and which will cost a business the most in terms of downtime and lost production if they ever do break down. It will therefore not be necessary for the majority of crane users, but for those that do need it, it could be invaluable.

Alongside a normal service inspection, Street CraneXpress engineers will undertake vibration monitoring using handheld devices to evaluate the condition of rotating machinery. Unique vibration signatures will identify even minute wear or defects in bearings and other moving parts which are often enclosed in sealed cases and therefore otherwise unreachable. The engineers will also be able to take oil samples which will be sent off to a lab for analysis, with varying levels of particular elements able to point out problems within the gearbox; an area that is otherwise impossible to inspect without taking the crane out of service for the day and stripping down the entire gearbox.

These techniques are already used by Interface Condition Monitoring in a number of other industries, and can be applied equally well to crane service. Interface, working in partnership with Street CraneXpress, will analyse the data received, cross-reference it against British Standards and historical data, and build up a long-term picture of the crane’s health, as well as identify any future faults, which Street CraneXpress can fix before they cause the crane to break down.

Interface engineers can also undertake a much more detailed level of vibration monitoring as well as thermal imaging and acoustic monitoring if necessary, whilst the Street CraneXpress engineers service the crane. Using a highly sophisticated listening device they can check for abnormal signatures such as clicks, creaks or unusual grinding noise, to identify any problems before they are visible to the human eye. Thermal imaging can be used to instantly identify areas of excessive friction or electrical resistance, through the heat generated by faulty components; unlike traditional fault-finding techniques which can be time consuming and put a crane out of service for an entire day. This ease and speed of detection means that a crane’s condition can be much more thoroughly checked than would otherwise be possible on a regular basis.

The various techniques can be used either separately or in conjunction with each other, depending on requirements, meaning condition monitoring services can be tailored to each specific customer, the equipment and its usage. By taking advantage of some or all of these techniques, Street CraneXpress’ high-usage customers can experience the peace of mind provided by greatly reduced risk, downtime and ultimately, cost.

Ray Fletcher, Street CraneXpress director, said: “This service will be invaluable those clients that use their cranes continuously for high volume outputs, where a breakdown can cost thousands of pounds an hour in lost production. By preventing the vast majority of breakdowns in this way, we can save our customers large sums of money in potential lost earnings, through minimised downtime.”

Simon Elliott, director at Interface Condition Monitoring added:  “As far as we’re aware, this is the first time condition monitoring has been used in the UK crane service industry. The techniques are perfectly transferrable to cranes; the principles are the same, whatever machinery you’re analysing. We believe therefore, that this is a service for the future of the crane industry.”

With the two companies working together in this way, Interface will be able introduce the benefits of condition monitoring to whole new industry of deserving customers, and Street CraneXpress will be in a position to deliver a service above and beyond that of any other crane service provider.




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