The future trend in material handling systems will be lighter and higher-efficiency equipment. The power consumption, material of construction, operating noise levels and eco-friendly features of these equipment will play a big role while introducing new products in the market, says Saeesh Nevrekar, Country Manager & Managing Director, WMI Konecranes India. Excerpts from the interview.
Brief us on the demand-supply scenario for crane systems for the steel industry.
Steel industry has the toughest and most demanding operating conditions. Cranes are an integral part of steel mills. Industrial cranes are heavily relied on for proper work in extreme and varied conditions of steel mills. Even a single day of disruption in work can cost steel mills hugely. With so much at stake on a single machine, a lot of thought goes into buying cranes. Crane demand is directly proportional to the steel production capacity of the steel mill. There are many crane manufacturers in India who provide cranes for steel industry. But, when it comes to large capacity, stringent conditions and advanced automated cranes, only a few can provide them.
Are there any new projects on the anvil in steel industry?
Yes, there are new projects due from the steel industry but many new projects are on hold and the steel industry is one of the major driving forces for industrial crane demand. The recent dip in the steel sector has not affected the business so much but overall, it has had an impact on our customers` businesses and to some extent, to us too. While the industry is witnessing a slowdown, we are focusing on improving our products, increasing the service network and strengthening our business processes to make operations more profitable and smooth. We are also focusing on the service business and have introduced new service offerings like Rail Q, a crane runway rail survey and Rope Q, rope survey, etc. The year 2014 should hopefully bring about the right atmosphere to boost the steel sector and create demand for industrial cranes.
What is the range of crane systems offered by Konecranes?
Konecranes is a leading process crane provider for the steel industry; we take pride in being a company of specialists with the ability and a proven track record of solving virtually any material handling issue in any industry. After the integration of WMI cranes in our portfolio, now we have the widest range of cranes for all applications in steel industry, customised for specific needs and offering both traditional and sophisticated technology to our customers. The types of cranes we provide include ladle cranes, charging cranes, shipping area cranes, cranes for rolling mills, slab and billet handling cranes, coil handling cranes etc.
What are the major selection criteria for crane systems? How updated are the codes and specs with regard to safety?
Safety, quality, and price are major selection criteria for crane systems in steel industry. Safety is of paramount importance, particularly in critical applications in steel plants and it plays a major role in the customer´s buying decision. But as we know, India is very price-sensitive market. Price is also a key factor in the buying process and sometimes the features and novel solutions offered by a crane manufacturer often gets lost in the discussion. At Konecranes, we provide unique features which not only make the crane operation fast but safe too, thus increasing the productivity of the customer´s business. Our advanced service offerings help customers keep the cranes running and prevent sudden breakdowns which results in heavy production losses. Such highly advanced cranes can be expensive initially but it is worth to the customer in the long run and provides less of lifecycle costs. We not only provide equipment but complete lifting solutions, too, and the customers can depend on us and work as partners.
What are the major safety features in the crane systems that handle molten steel and heavy loads, billets and scrap?
The ladle crane´s handle is molten steel for which reliability and safety are equally important. The design features in the ladle cranes are centred on redundancy of systems, ease of maintenance and precise control. For handling critical activities in steel industry, many advance safety features which ensure the overall safety of a crane, have been developed by Konecranes, like the Control Pro feature which calculates the safe working period, (SWP), the calculated remaining lifetime of the crane´s machinery. Condition monitoring protects the crane from misuse and overuse, and provides additional safety for the lifting function. Its ability to provide real-time data and facts about the crane use helps in maintenance. It also supports production optimisation by finding potential bottlenecks and less-used devices. The overload protection feature helps in setting a limit for load and does not allow movement of the load if the weight is over a preset limit. This helps protect the motor, gearbox and rope from excess wear and prevents accidents. The overspeed supervision feature prevents the operator from driving the crane over set speeds, and protects the crane, load and the surrounding areas from possible collision and damage. The dual rope redundancy feature avoids molten metal to fall even when one of the ropes is damaged.
How safe is the hoisting mechanism in your cranes?
The hoisting mechanism in our cranes is very safe because of the advanced features we offer. A hoist synchronisation keeps the hooks at the same elevation during hoisting so that there is little danger of the load becoming unbalanced. The sway control helps to reduce accidents by preventing load sways and keeps the load steady even if an inexperienced operator is operating the crane. The working limit defines the area in which the crane is allowed to move, so the operation can be restricted to a particular area of the plant. The end positioning helps to designate the exact position for a load and prevents material damage. An extended speed range helps to lift the hook faster when it is empty or with small loads, to speed up operations.
Tell us about the advanced control features incorporated in your range.
Our cranes are built with smart and unique features to make operations more efficient and safe. We have the sway control, which helps reduce accidents by preventing load sways. The skew control ensures smooth and steady tracking as the crane travels down the runway. It reduces adverse loads on the crane runway and surrounding structure as well. The shock load control protects the crane´s structure by reducing avoidable stresses caused by heavy loads being picked up from the ground.
What are the latest product and technology offerings in crane systems for the steel industry?
The steel industry environment is one of the toughest to operate in. These days, the focus is on developing the economics of manufacturing steel by enhancing safety, reliability and lowering the possible cost over the lifetime of the equipment.
The future trend in material handling systems will be lighter and higher-efficiency equipment. The power consumption, material of construction, operating noise levels and eco-friendly features will play a big role while introducing new products in the market. In today´s industrial scenario, productivity is extremely important and breakdowns for even a single day mean huge losses. Konecranes provides the Smarton crane, a next generation smart crane which is easy to operate, with minimum human supervision and helps in reducing downtime. Smarton is built with smart and unique features to make operations more efficient and safe.
Tell us about the services offered by Konecranes in this area.
Konecranes invests heavily in R&D to bring new technologies and innovations to the market. Worldwide, we service close to 400,000 pieces of equipment and have developed a rich knowledge base of crane operations and maintenance. Apart from selling cranes, we provide complete crane maintenance services to our customers. Some of our value-added services are:
Crane reliability survey (CRS): As every crane and production process is unique, we have created an in-depth analysis for overhead cranes and port cranes. This crane analysis, conducted by highly trained crane specialists, has a module that highlights fatigue in the crane structure, reliability, operational and safety issues. The Konecranes` crane reliability survey can help the client plan his future investment.
Crane runway survey (Rail Q): Rail Q generates 3D and 2D graphs of the runway rails and identifies misalignment and other problems of the cranes. It contains information on the runway alignment in an accurate, safe, and efficient manner and offers optimal recommendations for the corrective actions as well as cost- effective solutions.
Wire rope inspection (Rope Q): Konecranes Rope Q wire rope inspection is a visual and non-destructive (NDT) rope inspection service that examines what one cannot see on the ropes. The service provides data on the current condition of the ropes leading to increased operator safety, while helping to lower the total operating costs of lifting equipment.
Truconnect® remote monitoring and reporting: It collects real usage data from the crane through a remote connection, provides a periodic report that illustrates the actual use of the hoist during that period, making it a great tool for improving safety, optimising maintenance and assessing the hoist lifecycle.
Konecranes provides unique features which not only make the crane operation fast but safe too, thus increasing the productivity of the customer´s business.
The power consumption, material of construction, operating noise levels and eco-friendly features will play a big role, while introducing new products in the market.