| Exhibitors at Modex in Atlanta, USA showcased innovations in a range of types of lifting equipment, as well as accessories that keep hoists at the cutting edge. Daniel Searle visited the show.
US President Donald Trump has never stuck to the traditional presidential script; indeed, his unconventional approach to campaigning and orating was one factor in his unexpected success at the 2016 election.
In his time as president, Trump has continued in the same vein of unpredictable decisions, both at home and regarding international relations.
While the success or otherwise of his policy-making and statesmanship will be proved in the fullness of time, for the moment the US market is steadily growing, albeit with occasional stutters during periods of uncertainty.
“We’ve seen fairly consistent growth, with a slight pause that accompanies economic uncertainty,” says Jeff McNeil, marketing manager at Gorbel. The uncertainty in question was the introduction of the steel tariff introduced by Trump, designed to encourage manufacturers to buy steel produced in the US, by charging a tariff on imported steel. The end result, however, was that US steel manufacturers understandably increased their prices in line with the general increase.
“A week after introducing the tariff, the US government exempted some countries,” explains McNeil. “This uncertainty causes some investments to be put on hold, and therefore the whole supply chain stops.”
Whatever the underlying effects of Trumponomics, the lifting equipment industry is steadily growing, and a number of interesting innovations were on show at Modex, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia in early April.
While there were no large-scale hoists on display, the focus was on incremental improvements to established technologies.
McNeil at Gorbel introduced all the features and benefits of the company’s CraneBrain 3D software, a graphic configurator used by distributors, primarily, to work with end users in calculating the best crane or cranes for their facility and operations.
The software, which is compatible with both Windows and Apple platforms, was first launched last year at the Promat exhibition in Chicago, but has since evolved and now has the capacity to include obstacles in the calculations, such as machinery and support pillars, and to work with multiple cranes in the same facility.
Watching the software in action is impressive; not only does it appear very intuitive to use, with the dimensions of the cranes and obstacles altered at a touch, it also completes engineering calculations in real time, explains McNeil, so users can check straight away what is and isn’t possible. It also helps distributors and end users to visualise the potential solutions straight away, rather than waiting for technical drawings, adds McNeil.
Columbus McKinnon promoted its Lodestar VS, a variable-speed hoist with a software interface suitable for Windows PCs and tablets. The software was developed in-house and enables operators to connect via a port on the hoist that links to a USB input on these devices.
Maintenance information can then be accessed, such as voltage spikes, overload data and more, which assists preventative maintenance. The hoist’s parameters can also be altered using the software interface, such as speeds, limits and soft limits—and the software can be configured on any Windows system to suit the uses and preferences of each individual operator.
Also on show was Columbus McKinnon’s Lodestar, a three-phase hoist with capacities up to 2t in single line and 3t in triple line, and the Shopstar, a single-phase hoist with capacities from 250lbs to 1,000lbs.
Chinese company JB Lift is in the process of receiving a US patent for its Smart Hoist system, which is already patented in China. The hoist features a real-time load display on the unit, records the maximum load carried by the hoist, and includes an overload alarm. All of this helps to improve safety and safe operation, and with predictive maintenance, says director Steve Gao.
It can also help managers to decide if a hoist should be upgraded, if, for example, it is regularly being used at more than the recommended capacity.
The company is currently setting up a stock of its products in Chicago, and is also looking into applying for patents in the European market, adds Gao.
The innovation followed demand from customers for a mobile system, explains TAWI, and is based on the previous incarnation of the system, which had a moveable base.
The company originally developed equipment for lifting boxes, then moved to handling systems for bags, and moved forward from there. The company also supplies a range of attachments for lifting different items, with capacities up to 600lbs— the Lift and Go currently lifts up to 175lbs.
TAWI also produces monorails, as well as its own cranes, including jib cranes, gantries, free-standing units, and ceiling suspended systems.
Sky Hook produces a range of lightweight jib cranes and other lifting equipment, and promoted its articulating arm system, comprising both base and crane and featuring two points of rotation, says the company’s VP design Thomas Christensen. The company’s cranes can be fitted to a bench mount, floor mount, or mobile cart mount, in which the load rests on the trolley—and each crane can be switched between different base mounts.
Harrington Hoists introduced its new EQ/SEQ electric chain hoist line-up to the US market around ten months prior to Modex, says director of business development Jason Said, and sales have been “tremendous”. The EQ/SEQ hoists are the first hoist line-up to be offered with standard VFD control in both single and three phase configurations, says Said.
Cervis showcased its Warrior range of wireless radio remote controls for overhead cranes and hoists. The expanded product line includes three motion two-speed and two-motion, two-speed controls at the entry level price point, and offers features such as detent and stepless levers that allow stepped and proportional switching for speed control. The Warrior product line is designed to provide reliability and durability coupled with flexible configurations and world class support.
Exhibitors at Modex in Atlanta, USA showcased innovations in a range of types of lifting equipment