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Crane Automation for the Automotive Industry

Crane automation for the automotive industry

Semi-automated lifting is a key factor helping automotive manufacturers establish and sustain quality and customer satisfaction. From press and assembly lines to workstations and warehouses, we have the technology to help you improve operation safety and productivity.

Semi-automated die gripper cranes used in stamping plants are changing the landscape of automotive manufacturing. Modern dies with lifting pins at all four corners can be picked up from the die warehouse with a die gripper attachment and loaded onto bolsters on each side of the press. While ordinary cranes need an operator plus a two-man rigging crew to pick up a die, Konecranes die gripper crane allows the operator to do the job alone in semi-automation mode, using cameras mounted on the trolley or the gripper that live-stream a view of the operation to the display on the radio controller.

These new-generation die gripper cranes can change out die sets rapidly, facilitating just-in-time schedules to produce stamped parts as they are needed. Instead of changing a die set every three days, it is now feasible to change dies multiple times in a shift. While this evolution increases the duty cycle of the crane, our cranes are designed to safely and efficiently manage heavy loads and short cycles.

Smart Features for improved safety, speed and positioning

Konecranes proprietary Smart Features deliver specific benefits that enhance safety and productivity. New or novice operators can use Target Positioning and Sway Control to pick up a 60-ton die and take it where it needs to go with no hesitation, no load swing, and no overshoot. Target Positioning moves the load from one of eight home positions to one of 120 pre-defined target positions. The operator dials the location of the die on his radio control, pushes a button, and the crane drives to that location to pick up the die, reducing work cycle times and the risk of human error in repetitive operations.

Working alongside automotive manufacturers, Konecranes has developed other Smart Feature technologies to improve safety, speed and positioning for older cranes moving traditionally styled dies that still require manual rigging. Hook Centering helps eliminate side pull, using an infrared camera system to automatically center the hook over the load before lifting is allowed. The camera interface will also stop the crane from moving if the load catches on an obstruction, a feature known as Snag Prevention. Protected Areas carves out no-go areas for the crane by placing spatial restrictions on trolley traversing and bridge traveling movement, barring the crane from entering user-defined three-dimensional spaces. All of these technologies reduce the risk of accidents, equipment collisions and load damage, and help protect people, products and infrastructure.

Reducing operational time

Plants that are currently using Konecranes newest die gripper cranes and plants using dies that still require traditional rigging have one thing in common: both are using Konecranes semi-automation technologies to reduce the time and manpower required to stamp an individual hood, fender or door skin. Depending on the configuration of the plant, operational time for a single lift can be reduced significantly with Konecranes semi-automation and Smart Features. 

Take control of your warehouse

Since the basic task of a semi-automatic crane in a warehouse is to move items to and from storage, Konecranes Compact Warehouse Manager (CWM) was created to eliminate the burden of remembering where storage items are located, how many pieces of each type are there, and keeping track of this data on paper. When storage is controlled by CWM, an operator can quickly find an item in storage and instruct the semi-automated crane to go to its location without positioning the crane manually. When moving an item to storage, CWM streamlines the task by proposing a free location, or identifying an existing location with the same type of item to stack them all in one pile. Working with Konecranes smart cranes; SMARTON, UNITON and CXT Smart, CWM delivers a simple and portable user interface for warehouse management and controlling crane operations that saves time, space and operator effort.

Lifting technology that can pay for itself

A semi-automated crane that operates optimally with a crew of one instead of a crew of three may save enough in employee costs to pay for its upgraded technology in one to two years.
Using TRUCONNECT® Remote Monitoring and the customer portal, plant management can access the data collected to identify patterns, trends and anomalies. With this information at their fingertips, customers can fine-tune maintenance planning and identify where more operator training is needed.

Bottom line, Konecranes semi-automation, Smart Features and CWM are helping lifting equipment work faster, last longer, and help keep people out of harm’s way in automotive settings.