Cranes with brains

Monday, April 8, 2019

Crane, connected, clever

Palfinger’s new TEC and SH knuckle-boom cranes are connected to the internet. Danfoss has helped make it happen. Lean about all the benefits.

What would you call cranes that remember when, where, how, and who operated them on a given day? Or cranes that communicate with you via the internet? PALFINGER’s new truck-mounted cranes do just that – and more. They are cranes with brains. Danfoss helped make it happen. 

A 7 by 3-centimeter black box located near the base of the crane arm. This is the only visible sign that Austria-based PALFINGER’s new TEC and SH knuckle boom cranes are as connected as the smart phone in your pocket.

The cranes are born with a cloud-based communications system called Danfoss PLUS+1® Connect. It enables crane owners to sit in the comfort of their office and connect to any of their cranes – from the one moving concrete at a nearby construction site to the one loading tree logs in a forest 300 km away.

And once logged on, they can analyze detailed data regarding crane operation and productivity or upload software updates.

The benefits? Let’s take a real-life example.

Saving time, adding value

Hierzmann Transporte GmbH is a transport and material handling company in Southern Austria. The company has 70 crane and transport vehicles in its fleet – and 60 operators to man them.

Keeping track of each machine’s geographical location, service needs, operating hours and so on is therefore a big task. And it isn’t made smaller by the fact that orders come in on short notice from customers, who need something moved from A to B.  

But, over the last months, the company has been testing Danfoss PLUS+1® Connect on three PALFINGER knuckle boom cranes.

Fleet Manager Markus Kaltenegger says:

“The system makes things a lot easier. We can log on from any device and, for example, see how many hours our operators work on a given task. This helps us better prepare work-schedules. We also immediately get alerts if a component on a machine needs service soon. And the GPS function makes it easy to identify the nearest service-shop. PALFINGER has always been first with innovative technology and this connectivity solution is no exception.”

He adds that the system offers many other benefits, one of them being the ability to see when a machine is operating.

“Activity outside normal working hours or during the weekend might be a sign of unauthorized use or even theft. And getting such information instantly is, of course, key.”

Pick and choose

The Danfoss PLUS+1® Connect package consists of four digital blocks. First, you have the black box – the Danfoss CS100 IoT Gateway. It’s a powerful small computer with built-in cellular and GNSS/GPS modem. Next, is the PLUS+1® Connect Cloud which stores the collected data. The cloud also includes PLUS+1® Connect analytics services which sorts and makes sense of the data. Finally, the portal interface allows users easy access to the data.

Off-highway machine manufacturers can pick all elements or just some of them. And this is exactly what PALFINGER has done.

They already had their own analytics tool and interface when they began considering PLUS+1® Connect. And they wanted to keep these blocks while relying on Danfoss for connectivity, data collection, and safe storage of data in the PLUS+1® Connect cloud.

“Danfoss helped make sure that our and their digital system blocks fit perfectly together. Working with them on the project has been a pleasure. They have a very open-mined approach. To my knowledge, no other supplier of cloud-based machine connectivity systems offers similar levels of flexibility,” says Project & Risk Manager, R&D, Sebastian Schinwald, PALFINGER.  

Roughly 2,500 new PALFINGER TEC and SH knuckle boom cranes will be born with PLUS+1 Connect in 2019. And PALFINGER expects to add the system to several of its other crane types from 2020 onwards.

Danfoss’ PLUS+1 Connect system

Danfoss’ PLUS+1® Connect system

Digitalization success: Danfoss’ PLUS+1® Connect system is designed for use in several off-highway machinery sectors, including material handling, agriculture, construction, and road building.