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Digital Tools Make Crane Operations Safer, More Productive

EXPERTOPERATOR is an advanced crane motion control system that is implemented entirely within the Siemens platform. The system uses equipment such as Simatic S7 PLCs, Simatic HMI Panels and Scalance W Industrial Wireless Modules.

According to the Crane Inspection and Certification Bureau (CICB), approximately 80 crane-related deaths occur every year. Of all crane-related incidents, 90% are due to human error, 50% of the overall incidents result in a fatality and 40% of the overall incidents involve someone being struck by the crane or an object that the crane is lifting or moving. Most of these errors correlate to a lack of operator training.

Recent advancements in digital technologies have fueled innovation in the field of crane control, and new solutions have been developed that are safer and smarter. One unique solution for modernizing cranes was designed to help operators by reducing load sway by 95%. This solution, EXPERTOPERATOR, was developed by PaR Systems (PaR), a global manufacturer of advanced automation, robotic and specialty material handling solutions.

EXPERTOPERATOR is an advanced crane motion control system implemented entirely within the Siemens platform. The system uses equipment such as Simatic S7 PLCs, Simatic HMI Panels and Scalance W Industrial Wireless Modules. Unique algorithms within PaR's software enable crane operators to more easily, quickly, and safely control the movements of payloads, such as dies and coils in automotive stamping plants. EXPERTOPERATOR is most effective for applications that require high throughput and precise manipulation of loads to meet production demands and prevent collisions with sensitive equipment and personnel.

EXPERTOPERATOR is currently installed on over 150 cranes worldwide-many of which are located in automotive, primary metal and heavy equipment industry facilities. Users have indicated that EXPERTOPERATOR has allowed operators to control their crane loads with 95% less sway and 90% fewer close calls or collisions. Optional modules to the EXPERTOPERATOR platform provide robust zone control, sideload/snag prevention and automatic load positioning.

Across 150 installations, EXPERTOPERATOR has improved personnel safety, reduced damages to equipment, increased efficiency and reduced maintenance costs:

  • EXPERTOPERATOR minimizes payload motion by intercepting an operator's commands and adjusting the output to emulate those of an experienced operator. This technology is proven to reduce cable sway by 85-95%. Thus, operator concentration can be focused both on the load and on the immediate environment surrounding the adjacent plant floor, instead of controlling load sway. As a result, both the load and the surrounding equipment are less likely to suffer damage.
  • Many of PaR's customers run 24/7 operations and have reported significant improvements in productivity. For example, one customer in a high-throughput locomotive manufacturing process reported that the critical path load positioning time was reduced from approximately four minutes to less than two minutes. This result is not atypical. End users who implement EXPERTOPERATOR generally report between 10 and 50% reduction in load positioning time.
  • Increased productivity is due in part to the reduction of load swing, which makes the crane easier to operate efficiently. The intense manual manipulation ordinarily required by an operator to mitigate load swing is replaced by a simpler manipulation task: positioning a stabilized and swing-free load. Further, while using the technology, operators pressed pendant buttons 60-80% less than while conducting the same manipulation task without EXPERTOPERATOR, meaning fewer commands are needed to manipulate a swing-free load.
  • Because EXPERTOPERATOR makes cranes easier to use, novice operators can quickly become proficient. In fact, new operators who utilize the technology generally perform as well or better than their more experienced counterparts who use conventional cranes.
  • Each time a crane operator pushes a button, electric current rushes through the power section of the drives. The current also flows into the motors, and this causes torque to be propagated in the mechanical drive train through to the gears, wheels and finally the rails of the crane's infrastructure. When the number of starts, stops and surges in current are reduced by 60-80% with EXPERTOPERATOR, the life of that critical equipment is prolonged. As a result, the mean time between failure (MTBF) statistic is improved by a factor of 2-3 times and maintenance costs are reduced.

In material handling crane operations, wireless capability is a key operational factor. The Siemens Scalance W wireless solution offered PaR Systems a wireless component that was reliable and predictable. PaR had experience with non-Siemens wireless solutions in the past that were problematic, both functionally and from a manufacturer support perspective. The Scalance W wireless solution can be configured to operate in a less congested frequency range (5 GHz), allowing for a more robust wireless signal. Since installing Siemens Scalance W wireless modules as part of their solutions, customers have experienced 100% uptime of their wireless communications. In addition to reliability, the Scalance Wireless Modules offered PaR exceptional customer and OEM technical support.

Time to market is also important to PaR Systems when delivering customer solutions. The Siemens Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) portal provided a platform to shorten engineering time through its simulation tools, programmer productivity tools and additional diagnostics. PaR Systems benefitted from unique capabilities when programming the Simatic S7 PLCs and Simatic HMI Panel. They were able to dynamically change the cycle time of the main control loop during runtime, which is critical for optimizing the performance of their unique motion control. Debugging capabilities were enhanced because the tool monitors values and updates programs in real time for instantaneous feedback. Such tasks that are tedious and time consuming within other platforms happen automatically and dynamically when using the Siemens TIA solutions.

For more information contact:

Siemens Industry, Inc.

5300 Triangle Parkway

Norcross, GA 30092


PaR Systems, LLC

707 County Road E West

Shoreview, MN 55126-7007



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