CONDRA Cranes has begun incorporating brake logic circuits in finished machines, enhancing competitive advantage by further reducing maintenance costs.
The company is also casting gearbox housings and some flanges from aluminium. Together, the two innovations serve to extend overall machine life by minimising brake and motor wear, and by reducing weight.
Logic circuits are the only significant technological innovation to be applied to the global crane market in recent years. They comprise computer-switching circuits that use electronic logic gates to assess input data and produce single logic outputs. Applied to a mechanical machine, they allow optimal operation.
“We are using these circuits to maintain our product ranking among the best in the world,” comments managing director Marc Kleiner. “Although other crane manufacturers point to features making use of communications technology, I believe that these are over-rated, because they facilitate remote monitoring of operations rather than delivering the significant cost advantages of the logic circuit,” Kleiner said.
“Electronic logic gates differ significantly from their relay-and-switch equivalents, being faster, much smaller, and consuming less power. Applied to the brakes of a crane or hoist, the circuits override incorrect brake usage during machine and load positioning, eliminating the overheating of brake pads and motors,” continues Kleiner.
In practical terms, the operator receives an on-screen read-out of the control sequence for the operation at hand, as well as the time that each control is to be applied. Should the operator work outside the instruction parameters, the operation is suspended for a pre‑determined period.
“The result is an increase in brake life by a factor of up to three, because the brake logic circuit eliminates the human tendency to over-work the crane,” Kleiner notes. “It also bolsters confidence in new operators who are trained and qualified, but who lack the required experience.”
To minimise cost, Condra buys the brake logic circuits from Germany, programming them at the company’s Bulgarian subsidiary before shipping them to the main factory in Gauteng.
According to Kleiner, Condra’s ever-lower maintenance costs are helping crane sales both locally and abroad, with export orders overtaking the value of the local order book during the second quarter of this year.
“Obviously, the exchange rate has helped with exports, but the main factors behind recent sales seem to be the robust nature of our equipment, and its sheer toughness and ease of maintenance,” Kleiner said. “The fact that Condra cranes now incorporate the latest technology in the form of brake logic circuits is a bonus.”