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Franna launches game changing safety feature

Safety Radar is a new software feature designed by Terex Franna to assist with pick and carry crane lifting operations. It is unique as it operates in real time.

Terex Franna has just released a new software feature, called Safety Radar. Safety Radar has a patent pending on the design and methodology behind it. The functionality of Safety Radar is based on the limitation that, until now, Franna pick and carry cranes have been displaying to the operator the rated capacity of the crane and the load at singular point in time. Mike Atherden, Principal Engineer at Terex Franna explains more.

Unlike conventional Load Moment Indicators (LMI) which only tell you the percentage of rated capacity for the current lifting position, Franna’s Safety Radar shows the operator a simple and clear visual radar map of the safe working area for the load being lifted and most importantly for the actual working environment of the crane i.e. front/rear and side slope. It will help to predict the safest options for the next stages of the lift. 

“When you’re operating a crane, you need to be thinking about what your next move is and this is where Safety Radar comes in. We wanted to design a simple visual display which shows the operator what is going to be the next correct move. The display element we’ve designed shows the complete safe working area of the crane, including articulation and radius for the particular configuration, and the system dynamically adjusts for pitch and roll,” he said.

All Franna operators would have a general understanding that the rated capacity drops off as radius is extended, when the crane is articulated and when the crane is positioned across a slope with the load on the downhill side. But what is really hard to predict is when the crane is limited by or approaching a side tipping condition, based on the real life working conditions. 

“The display consists of areas of green, yellow, and red, corresponding to the standard crane ‘Christmas tree lights’ or warning lights that are given by the Load Moment Indicator (LMI) system, which are very familiar to operators. The green band represents zero to 90% of rated capacity,  the yellow 90% to 100%, and the red being overload, or over 100%  of rated capacity,” said Atherden.

With Safety Radar, Terex Franna is hoping to change the way operators utilize the information being presented, such as when the crane starts to pick up the lift. The operator sees the green safe working area instantly adjust on the display, dynamically updating to show any areas of the working area that the operator should not approach.

Franna’s Safety Radar shows the operator a simple and clear visual radar map of the safe working area for the load.

When it comes to the next step of the lift, with the pick and carry crane mobile and moving the load from point A to point B, there’s typically quite a number of twists or turns and surface undulations that have to be negotiated. As the display dynamically updates, it gives the operator an understanding of what the next move should be. If the operator has options in how to get from point A to point B, Safety Radar helps determine which move is going to be the safest.

“There would be circumstances, particularly involving articulation and side slope, where the operator may have an option to go one way, which might move the crane closer towards the red area of the display element, or another option that moves you deeper into the green area of the display element, keeping the crane’s operation more stable and safe,” said Atherden.

“Keeping the crane in the green area will ensure operator can perform the lift safely. Safety Radar provides a different level of understanding by calculating a whole working area, not just the one point the crane is currently at. Even the most experienced operator couldn’t predict the safe working area like the system can calculate.” 

“Another way of explaining Safety Radar’s functionality is to say it is predicting what the crane’s response to the current load and working environment would be if radius is increased or the articulation is increased with the current configuration. Terex Franna sees Safety Radar, as a game changing development in pick and carry sector, and we don’t use the term lightly,” he said.

Most people in the crane industry would know that Terex separated from Demag in 2019. Prior to that separation, the design and engineering team at Terex Franna had been working closely with Demag’s in-house software team. This collaboration was part of the development process for the Franna AT40. 

“At that point in time, we were faced with a decision, we either had to outsource our software support for the AT40, or start up an in-house software team to continue to develop the AT40 and move forward in the software space,” said Atherden.

“The decision was taken to do the latter, to create software as a core element within the engineering group at Franna. The Safety Radar development started as an idea to better present information to the operator.

“There are similar concepts in the field, in the slew crane space for example, but Safety Radar has been specifically designed for Frannas and executed by our in-house Australian software team for the AT40, then we shared with Robway Safety Pty Ltd to implement our patent into the MAC25 and AT22 machines. The display’s working area dynamically updates for pitch, roll, articulation, load, boom angle, and boom length,” he said.

The Terex Franna design and engineering team has been working on the project in earnest since 2020. Safety Radar went through some iterations internally to maximise the performance and understand what could and couldn’t be achieved.

“Once we were happy we had got the concept to a certain level, we ran a pilot program with a couple of customers. The customers came to our Terex Franna operation here in Brisbane and we fitted the Safety Radar software to their machines. We then let them go in the field and monitored operator feedback. 

“Franna can only do so much in the confines of a structured testing environment, and nothing beats a ‘real world’ pilot program where operators are using it on a daily basis to perform their general lifting duties,” said Atherden.

The feedback has been very positive. The customers that we’ve discussed Safety Radar with and the operators we’ve given it to, have come back and said, “It’s fantastic, we can’t believe how we have been operating without it.” And even people that aren’t in the operational space but are more in the fleet management are saying, “It really gives a new dimension in terms of safety for this type of machine, allowing the operator to really plan their next move more effectively and safely”, he said.

Safety Radar will be standard to all AT40 machines, as well as MAC25 and AT22 machines and will be available for retrofit to these existing crane models in the field which are fitted with our Dynamic LMI system.

“We are planning a public launch of the system at The Crane Industry Council of Australia National Conference and Exhibition in November. And we’re targeting a release date of early 2023”, said Atherden.

Terex Franna has prepared a marketing video which helps owners understand how the Safety Radar system works. In the video, you are able to see the AT40’s in-crane computer with the new display element on the left-hand side and then an overlay section of a GoPro looking out the front of the crane, showing the operators perspective. The video highlights the way the Safety Radar changes under different operating conditions, including the initial lift, operation on a side slope and articulating on a slope. 

Check it out on the Franna website: www.franna.com.au. 

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