How to Add Another Set of Eyes on Each Lift

Crane cameras allow an operator's experience to be maximized and put to use in critical lifts while providing visual information, contextual awareness and aid communication with the rigger. Chris Catanzaro, chief operating officer of Pacific Systems Solutions, the company behind HookCam, likens operating a crane without a camera to driving blindfolded.

“Imagine driving a car blindfolded while the passenger directs you where to go, when to stop and how fast to move," Catanzaro says. “It would be a difficult, dangerous and stressful task to complete. Now imagine how much safer and efficient the driver can maneuver without the blindfold?”

Crane cameras "remove the blindfold for operators and gives them a second set of eyes, eliminating blind spots and enhancing the communication with the rigger," Catanzaro says. “They now have a contextual view of the load and can verify the direction of the rigger, allowing them to do their job much more safely and efficiently."

Pacific Systems Solutions' HookCam is a camera placed on the hook block of cranes so crane operators can see the aerial view from the hook's perspective. With the view from the hook, the operator can see all the personnel in the area and can verify critical rigging details. According to Catanzaro, operators are also able to see the pace and swing of the load, providing them with the situational awareness necessary to reduce potential accidents and property damage.

“For years there was a void where the operators were often unable to see the load and the path,” Catanzaro says. “Crane operators have been trained to work in the blind, maneuvering their hook and load around tall buildings and through congested construction sites, often relying entirely on the guidance of the rigger. The rigger and operator have always been a critical team, and that relationship is made even better when you give the operator vision.”

The detailed view provided by the camera on the hook not only helps to eliminate accidents, Catanzaro says, but also decreases pick time by up to 38 percent.

Time savers

“We're saving 30 seconds to a minute on each load; says a rigger who uses HookCam. "We're doing 90 loads a day. That's up to an hour and a half a day we're saving, and over the life of a project, that's hours. A lot of man hours that we're saving. It really speeds up the efficiency of the project.”

Operators can also view the load for themselves to confirm the balance and load security, allowing them to verify rigging and quickly respond to critical situations.

"[Crane cameras] keep our crews safe and allows the crane operator to see employees during the lifting activities," says a project superintendent who uses HookCam-equipped cranes. “Without the HookCam, there's the potential for accidents to happen, but with the HookCam, the crane operator can identify these hazards and avoid them."

The newest model of the HookCam works to achieve the same goals and maintains the rugged durability of its predecessors, the company says. New features include an adaptable mounting system, sleeker design, more efficient battery, solar charging and options for black box recording.

"When we undertook the Generation Five model it began as a facelift," explains Catanzaro. "After a decade of research and development, we concluded with much more. The new design is portable and lighter weight, has a lower profile and features an easy-to-read display. The new mounting system allows for quick and easy installation and is adaptable for a variety of cranes."

Manitowoc signed a five-year, strategic agreement with Orlaco, a camera system specialist, to provide and develop after-market camera systems for Manitowoc cranes, including Potain tower cranes, Grove mobile cranes, National Crane boom trucks and Manitowoc crawler cranes.

At the time of the announcement back in the spring, (at Bauma 2013 in Munich) Bob Hund was executive vice president of Manitowoc Crane Care. He said the after-market supply of crane cameras held gnat potential for growth.

After-market demand

“Many crane cameras are fitted at the point of manufacture, but there is also demand for after-market cameras to be fitted later on to meet specific customer needs,” Hund said, on the announcement of the partnership. “Traditionally, cameras are only used on tower cranes, but that is changing. Cameras can help any type of crane operator to perform more efficiently and we expect their use to increase long into the future.”

Orlaco, based in the Netherlands, has been Manitowoc's primary supplier of camera technology since 2004, the company says.

“Through our partnership with Manitowoc, we want to make life easier for the operator,” says Jan van der Beek, managing director of Orlaco. “Our skills as a leading innovator in camera systems and Manitowoc's vast experience in crane manufacturing will help us develop the world's leading crane cameras.”

According to Manitowoc, as cameras become more commonplace, the number of Manitowoc's cranes fitted with cameras at the factory is growing.

At the top end of the scale, Manitowoc's largest crane, the Model 31000 crawler crane, has 12 cameras fitted to the base machine.

“We believe that soon every crane will be fitted with a camera, speeding up operations and improving efficiency on job sites,” says Twan Pelders, business development manager at Orlaco.

Crane cameras give operators a perspective that allows them to perform their jobs better and more safely, which can reduce stress and increase job satisfaction.

"Operators love that [crane cameras] give them the view they need to verify details and do their job safely and efficiently,” says Catanzaro. "It's really good in that it sheds four eyes on picks instead of two.”


Source: ACT Magazine, November 2013 Issue

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