Enhance Crane Safety with Industrial Wireless Remote Controls
Author: David Stagg, Product Manager, Industrial Product Manager, Cattron North America
Cranes are an invaluable and essential component to a variety of industries including construction, manufacturing, warehousing, steel production, grain, logging, ship loading and rail yards. The reliance on cranes in these industries for loading, unloading and moving heavy materials will remain for the foreseeable future. This necessitates a continued focus on maintaining or improving operational safety and having the proper safety protocols in place.
One safety measure that is now widely adopted is the use of a wireless remote control system to control the crane rather than using pendant or cab controls. While these systems achieve a variety of process improvement and efficiency outcomes, a major driver of the adoption remote control technology is the improvement of operator safety. There are three primary ways that wireless remote control systems accomplish this.
- Minimizing the risk to operators from falling material or dropped loads.
- Reducing the risk of human error.
- Enabling the operator to more easily identify tripping hazards and pinch points.
Wireless crane control minimizes the risk to operators caused by falling material or dropped loads.
An elevated risk of accidents due to falling materials is present unless the operator has the ability to be positioned at a safe distance from the load. Reduced line of sight to the load, trip/ slip hazards, mechanical failure and operator competency are additional factors contributing to this risk. With a wireless remote control, the operator is no longer tethered to the pendant and hence crane, giving him/her the flexibility to position themselves out of the danger zone, away from the hoist and its load.
As compared to the field of view when using a fixed pendant, a wireless remote control also offers greater visibility and expanded line of sight to other operations and personnel on the ground. This enables operators to avoid or alert other members of the work crew to an impending hazard and/or prevent it from happening.
Wireless controls are equipped to reduce human error.
One of the most important factors to minimize accidents is ensuring the crane equipment is operated by qualified workers. Having the proper certification and training on the equipment greatly improves the operator’s ability to prevent an accident. Modern wireless remote controls come equipped with built-in safety features to supplement the operators own capability, adding another layer of prevention to the safety plan. Examples of safety features in standard wireless remote control systems include:
- Ergonomic design to prevent inadvertent operations
- Easy to access and safe, machine stop switch
- Prevention of unexpected motions by using ‘push to operate’ buttons and bars’ or ‘double jog enable’ features, blocking of illogical combination and applying interlocks and restrictions on certain function combinations
- Haptic (vibration), LED and LCD indications and feedback
- RF and Infra-Red Close Start, RF Range limiting and Infra-Red zoning
- Key Interlocks and Supervisory functions
Wireless controls enable the operator to identify tripping hazards and pinch points more easily.
Wireless controls provide crane operators with free mobility and improved line of sight. These two factors make it easier for operators to identify potential tripping hazards and pinch points. Operators can move at their own pace rather than the pace of the crane since they are no longer tethered to it. Additionally, operators are no longer restricted by the range of movement of the pendant which gives them the flexibility to position themselves at a better vantage points with improved line of sight, enabling them to more efficiently plan their movements and reducing the likelihood of tripping/slipping and crush points during the crane operation.
Thankfully, businesses and operators have adopted a wide variety of safety measures to keep crane operators safe and preserve the essential use of cranes in these industries. The use of wireless controls adds another layer of protection and will continue to be used by crane operators for many years to follow.