Trimble and Manitowoc Cranes have announced a collaboration agreement for the development of telematics solutions.
The two companies say that they intend to develop solutions that will transform the way in which crane operations and information are managed on a construction site.
The aim is to provide real time, centimetre-level positioning data for multiple cranes working on a site. The solution would be able to measure crane position in absolute coordinates using rugged, easy to install, non-contact sensors that can be installed on both fixed and mobile cranes.
It is planned that the in-cab displays of cranes that are fitted with the developed solution will permit operators to view the site, multiple working crane zones, forbidden zones, target locations and other site information.
The companies also expect to develop an "Intelligent Environment" database for their solutions capable of receiving constant updates of data from Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools and other site sensors working in tandem. In addition, an anticipated feature of the solution would enable a user to program an alarm or even halt crane operation upon detection of unplanned work activity on the construction site.
A wireless local area network will also share the crane position information across the site, providing each crane operator, the lift scheduler and even the back office (if the Internet connectivity option is enabled) instant status against the BIM plan, enabling informed, decisions to be made in real time.
This information will be able to be viewed in 3D and will be able to access software tools and capabilities that are expected to be available as part of Trimble’s Connected Community solution that should permit contractors to gain significant efficiencies and improve overall jobsite productivity.
Manitowoc vice president of Crane Care -Bob Hund said: "Manitowoc is committed to providing the most advanced and comprehensive range of lifting solutions. Working together with Trimble allows us to access market leading technology to collaborate to develop innovative tools to increase crane operator awareness on a construction site."
John Cameron, general manager of Trimble's Integrated Technologies Division added: "Trimble is already using much the same technology to deliver significant productivity improvements to the construction machine control market. By partnering with the Manitowoc we expect to co-develop solutions capable of lifting and delivering materials on the construction site similar to a contract manufacturer who uses a pick-and-place machine to build an electronic circuit board. Our goal is add crane productivity as another key component of the connected site.”
Manitowoc unveiled its CraneStar system in 2009 and is now fitting it to a good number of the cranes it ships. This agreement should build on that experience and take it to a new level. It also looks as though it will add a full anti-collision system to the CraneStar system. The company currently works with Ascorel for its tower crane anti-collision systems. One question that will arise is compatibility between the Manitowoc/Trimble system and that of other cranes and systems.
The basic technology for this and other telematics solution, has been around for many years, but is only now beginning to come of age in the crane or aerial lift industries. It promises to revolutionise the way cranes are used and managed, but will require some significant changes to the way all but the largest lifting companies work.