C&L, Cranes & Lifting, Features, Technology

3D lift planning made simple

A1A Software got its start by developing the well-known lift planning program 3D Lift Plan. Now, it offers other business management tools specific to the needs of crane and construction equipment owners.

Some lift planning tools provide incredible detail and accuracy but require extensive training to be able to use. 3D Lift Plan can be used by people with all levels of crane and rigging knowledge and technology savviness. Basic level users, people whose job may be more sales oriented, for example, appreciate the Quick Lift Setup feature. Designed as a self-guided wizard, the tool asks the user to input specific data that automatically generates accurate jobsites and lift plans.

A1A Software, developers of the tool, continues to improve the interface and features of 3D Lift Plan, making it easier for customers to use the crane lift planning program as a sales tool, for bid proposals, crane selection and setup, lift planning and documentation.

“We have utilised WebGL technologies to enable the display of 3D content in Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge web browsers to improve the interface for customers no matter their preferred browser,” Tawnia Weiss, President of A1A Software, said. “This flexibility is important because 3D Lift Plan is a cloud-based program, eliminating the need to download and update software to individual computers,” she said.

New features expand the options for users as they plan which type of crane pads or mats are best for the ground conditions. Ground bearing calculations can now be made for steel mats with an option for layering steel mats over timber for better distribution of outrigger loads. This is in addition to the previous ability to select wood mats or DICA’s SafetyTech or FiberMax engineered outrigger pads or crane pads. Likewise, printouts of the crane mats in a lift plan now display corresponding images of steel mats instead of wood when steel mats are selected as part of the plan.

Other improvements provide users greater control of planning for unique lifting scenarios. Examples include the flexibility to:

• Override the boom angle when using a load chart with fixed boom angles;

• Establish one crane in setup mode while simultaneously putting other cranes in normal operation mode for the creation of erection and dismantling plans; and

• Knife-jack a lattice boom with luffer to verify procedures for lowering long lattice/luffer combos into stowed position.

Finally, a new rigging configuration has been added to the standard options in the Advanced Rigging Design portion of the program. The new configuration features two spreader bars and four roll-blocks. When this configuration is selected, 3D Lift Plan will calculate the sling angles and tension.

“Our programmers are continuously working to improve the features of 3D Lift Plan based on the feedback we receive from customers,” Weiss said.

“You provide the weight and dimensions of the object you are lifting and the location and size of any obstructions on the jobsite. 3D Lift Plan will search the load charts for all your cranes to find the most economical crane configurations for the lift. Program features, load charts, and crane graphics are all updated on our server, so there is no need for you to install updates. 3D Lift Plan is a standalone application. No additional CAD program is required,” she said.

“When comparing crane databases, it’s important that the available load charts represent the cranes in your fleet and provide an easy way to add in new models you acquire. Link-Belt, Manitowoc and Tadano Mantis each sponsor the data for their respective crane models in 3D Lift Plan. In addition, customers can request the addition of any crane, even those that are one-of- a-kind, custom cranes, such as a barge-mounted crane. 3D Lift Plan has at least 2500 models in a database that continues to grow all of the time. No other lift planning software has a database as large as we do.

“A common mistake crane users make when planning lifts is to use load chart data provided on the sales brochures rather than the full in-cab charts. All load chart data in 3D Lift Plan is based on the crane OEM’s full in-cab charts, which on some all-terrain cranes translates to thousands of pages of load charts. When purchasing a lift-planning tool, it’s important to know what the data is based on in order to assess the accuracy of the lift plan output,” she said.

Three-dimensional graphics, the ability to import CAD drawings or Google Earth imagery, individual crane model graphics that represent each specific crane, the ability to add in rigging or environmental obstructions, are all features that make 3D Lift Plan highly detailed and accurate.

“We provide hundreds of custom 3D objects, enabling you to deliver a realistic rendering of your lift plan to the customer. Knowing the full range of force exerted through each outrigger or through the loading points on a crawler track has become a hot-button issue for crane owners,” Weiss said.

“If a crane in our database does not include the full data to calculate ground bearing pressure then 3D Lift Plan provides a way for the users to enter the data on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the tool can show what the ground bearing pressure is if the crane is set up on steel or timber crane mats, and we are currently working toward incorporating the ability to calculate for cranes setup on engineered polymer crane mats.

“It is becoming increasingly common for detailed lift plans to be required as part of the bidding process. But lift plans must be presented in a way that non-crane professionals can understand. Look for lift planning tools that can generate a simulated lift. 3D Lift Plan automatically monitors the crane’s capacity while you change the boom angle, jib offset, load location, crane location, or lift radius,” she said.

“Snapshots through the load’s travel path, printouts of the full plan, or URL links displaying the crane and rigging configuration, crane capacity, load details, notes, and your company information, are convenient ways you can use 3D Lift Plan to communicate with customers.” 

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