A local crane company with facilities in South Africa, South America and Europe claims it has lowered the overall lifetime costs of its products below those of its competitors by successfully incorporating select and relevant technological developments.
The company, Condra, has for many years held a hard won reputation across central and southern Africa for producing rugged, robust cranes that can withstand the harsh operating conditions associated with this continent..
To deepen and extend footholds recently gained in European markets since 2008, Condra has developed incorporate technologies that lower the cost of the machine, extend its useful life, or both.
Among the product improvements introduced to achieve this goal are adapted V-belt hoist drives, live-axle direct drives on the end-carriages, case-hardened hoist gears, and squirrel-cage motors with disc brakes.
V-belt drives have been tested and proven in the motor vehicle industry for decades, delivering very low maintenance costs because of need for neither greasing nor cleaning. Applied to hoists, they deliver a performance considerably superior to any alternative in tough operational environments where routine maintenance is likely to be overlooked.
Within the end-carriages, Condra uses live axles to eliminate the cost of ring and pinion gears. With axles transmitting drive torque directly to the wheels, friction losses are lowered while energy efficiency is increased.
Case-hardened gears optimise performance and extend gear life. Condra is using a 36B case-hardened material on most pinions, and casting gearbox housings and some flanges in aluminium.
Squirrel cage motors are used for similar reasons: rugged construction and lower maintenance requirements. Rotors are made from silumin.
Further examples of using technology to optimise cost effectiveness can be found in hoist ropes and brake logic circuits. Small diameter ropes of high tensile strength are fitted to Condra’s hoists, enabling a reduced drum diameter and a smaller gearbox and motor, all of which help contain costs.
Brake logic circuits extend the lives of brakes and motors by ensuring their optimal usage. Brake life is extended by a factor of up to three, with the logic circuit eliminating any operator tendency to over-work the crane. Brake logic circuits can be delivered integral to the crane, or installed as a retrofit.
The company is currently investing in research and development to increase the performance and life expectancy across its range of brake units, as well as improve the environmental impact.
The net result of these product improvements is to significantly lower the total overall crane lifetime costs, which are now lower than those of major competitors, providing Condra with a competitive advantage that it is using to capture market share