Since the 1980s, Robway has been recognised as a pioneering developer of crane load monitoring systems; Rated Capacity Indicators and Load Moment Indicators. Robway’s general manager, Jon Koval, highlights innovations his business has been working on that may surprise many in the industry.
Robway Safety grew from Robert Way’s family business dating back to the 1940s which dealt in crane hire and scrap. It’s interesting and perhaps useful to trace the heritage and continuity that has led to the development of critical crane load technology.
“Rated Capacity Indicators and Load Moment Indicators are the most essential operator aids in protecting a crane from an overload accident. Both systems monitor information vital for the crane operator,” said RobwaJon Koval.
“Robway is recognised globally for the design, manufacture, and supply of ‘load systems’. “Over recent years we’ve expanded the company’s core products into new areas, including crane controls, telematics where we remotely monitor the crane, collect the data and provide analysis, and camera systems. We also supply crane joystick control systems for cranes, but not all sections of the market know this. When we explain to customers what we’ve been working on, they often comment, ‘We didn’t know you did that.’
“In 2006 we went back to the drawing board and embarked on a program to expand our capabilities into crane controls and we integrated our first LMI, highway instrument panel, and control system for an OEM customer in 2010. Our controls capabilities were designed for lifting applications in general with the first systems being provided for the articulated pick and carry crane market. Since then we have also developed joystick controls for pole borers and other specialty mobile cranes. Pole borers as they are known are cranes fitted both with a hoist rope and also an auger and are used to install new utility poles as well as remove and replace existing utility poles. Pole borers are quite complex with lifting operations, slewing, multiple charts based on boom positioning, restricted slewing zones as well as auger and torque limiting features.” he said.
“In our business, data is central to everything. With telematics, you can automatically track the condition of your cranes and be aware of potentially damaging overloads and deteriorating crane condition well before a major inspection. The technology also collects data on engine hours, fuel usage and more. While the odometer value of a mobile crane may not be very high, the engine hours on the motor can be,” said Koval.
Robway Safety launched its eLog telematics product in 2007, says Koval and in all this time the business hasn’t really made any major announcements to the market.
“We have a few hundred systems operating and up until now our specific niche has been crane data. We’ve never really positioned Robway as a fleet tracking or asset management monitoring system; our niche has been crane data including load data, boom angles and heights, etc.,” he said.
“More recently we’ve been working with a number of Tier One builders and contractors who have wanted more productivity data from our system. Being a systems provider to the OEMs and also working with the Tier Ones we are working on ways to provide the Tier Ones with the productivity data they are requesting as well as their safety data. You could say, our safety data is morphing into both safety, productivity, utilisation and asset management,” said Koval.
Our telematics development is always a work in progress says Koval and Robway is adding to its historic data archiving real-time communication with the crane whilst it is in operation via two way data communications.
“By providing the opportunity for the office to dial in and see how the crane is performing, how many lifts it has performed, the weight of the lifts, from and to where. It analyses whether the crane is over or under specified for the job, how well utilised the crane is and how much time it spends idle. This data will help the Tier Ones understand how they can run their crane fleets more productively,” he said.
“We have numerous customers already using our data collection systems, but we are in conversations with a number of our customers and it is clear that they would benefit from the result of collecting more data making our system even more useful,” said Koval.
Robway Safety is the Australian partner and distributor for Orlaco camera systems, says Koval.
“We offer this range of camera systems because we view them as both an important safety tool as well as providing increased productivity and efficiency from the operator. With the camera system, the operator can directly see what he is doing and thus he can work more productively and quickly because he doesn’t rely solely on a spotter to guide his every action.
“We provide Orlaco camera systems because we have crane manufacturers and end users who view Robway Safety as a one stop shop for their solutions. The Orlaco range has products to suit both the tower crane and mobile crane sectors,” he said.
Robway Safety is exporting its technology and safety solutions to a number of key manufacturers in North America, Japan, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, says Koval.
“We’re not just selling to companies in our back yard. We are selling our solutions to a varied selection of markets which provide their own sets of challenges and demands. In some cases we work through a network of dealers who represent our products throughout these regions and typically we work directly with crane manufacturers due to the highly technical partnership that these relationships demand. Safety and compliance are our main focus with all of the markets we service,” he said.