Materials in Motion

Four Unique Solutions for Complex Material Handling Problems

Problem solving is a major differentiator that separates Spanco from the competition. We customize hundreds of unique solutions each year to meet the demands of some of the most complex material handling problems in the industry. Here is a list of four unique solutions developed by our highly skilled team of engineers and technical specialists. You might just be surprised to learn what we can do to improve your operation.

1.) high-capacity lift with maximum portability  

Complex Problem: A manufacturer of holding fixtures needed a high-capacity, highly portable overhead crane with enough control to transport fixtures exceeding 10,000 pounds and up to 50 feet in length! They weren’t sure if such a product even existed, until Spanco built it for them!

Unique Solution: Spanco was able to design and fully customize a 10-ton PF Series Gantry Crane. Standard PF Gantry Cranes are high-capacity lifting systems that are perfect for handling large, bulky materials, but they can also limit portability. To solve that problem, Spanco included 12-inch diameter Nylacron™ wheels with heavy-duty bearings and four-position swivel locks. The Nylacron wheels enable one worker to move the non-motorized gantry under load with minimal effort.

Total Transformation: One worker even used the gantry crane to transport an 11,000-pound, 40-foot long fixture strapped to an oversized palette—and then load it onto the back of a semi-truck within 1/16th of an inch from the edge. According to the facility’s Quality Control Manager, “It was absolutely incredible. Even the truck driver said he had never seen anything like it!”

2.) maximum coverage in a limited space

Complex Problem: A global manufacturer of agricultural machinery instituted a new production system to boost productivity and lower cost at their 200,000-square foot facility. They needed an overhead crane system that would cover multiple production lines that sit relatively close together. However, they also needed a system that would occupy as little space as possible, outside of those production lines.

Unique Solution: Spanco designed a fully customized, dual, freestanding workstation bridge crane system with two interconnected runways and a total of six 2000-pound capacity bridges. The system was large enough to cover their assembly lines, but Spanco still had to overcome the complex contradiction of their operation: the system needed to cover more ground but take up less space. To accomplish this, engineers designed the dual bridge crane using three sets of (five) columns instead of four. The  runways share common headers, and the headers are split to share common columns. Each runway system has its own set of columns and an additional set is shared between them. Reducing the number of columns shortens the crane’s footprint without sacrificing coverage. The dual system spans a full 124 feet and cantilevers 18 inches out on each end to provide additional coverage.

Total Transformation: Their production lines are interconnected by one fluid system that still leaves plenty of clearance room and space for other applications. The additional space allows them to move freely around their assembly line and the cantilevered ends of the bridge crane enables workers to lift heavy materials outside of their production lines.

3.) Accuracy & precision for a delicate application

Complex Problem: A famous art museum in New York City began searching for an innovative solution for a very unusual problem. They needed to figure out a way to photograph their large collection of Islamic rugs, which dated back as far as the 15th century. They knew they needed to maintain the integrity of the rugs, but they were slowly deteriorating due to excessive handling. The art director decided to launch a new imaging program so that they could collect detailed images of the rugs to study their weaving patterns without ever having to unroll or handle them again.

Unique Solution: Spanco designed and built a very special aluminum gantry crane, which was assembled in the museum’s photography studio and used to take precise, high-resolution photographs of each and every square inch of their Islamic rug collection. To build the perfect system for their application and facility, Spanco engineers designed the gantry to fit inside the studio within two inches of each wall. The 1-ton gantry spanned 20 feet and was track mounted on a 15-foot long V-groove track so that it could travel from left to right. The museum mounted a motorized, medium-format, dual-platform camera on the gantry boom and lasers on the legs, which helped to measure weaving patterns in small sections and ensure accurate digital imaging.

Total Transformation: Photographers at the museum were able to place each rug under the gantry to photograph, edit, and produce large format, fine art prints and compile them into one blended collection. The gantry moved from left to right with such slow precision that the high-end digital camera was able to capture each section perfectly. Imaging directors and photographers at the museum were extremely pleased with the smooth motion of the gantry as it rolled on its track. As a result, the museum was able to preserve its collection of Islamic rugs, while also procuring an historic database of artwork that students, professionals, and hobbyists can study for years to come.

4.) weather resistant, high-capacity lift 

Complex Problem: A New Jersey yacht club needed to find a better solution to lift yachts from the water and transport them to land or on the back of a trailer to store during the winter months. The system needed to be weather resistant to prevent corrosion and rust from the moisture and salt water. It also needed enough lift capacity and control to move heavy boats and place them on land.

Unique Solution: Spanco designed a weather-resistant, freestanding jib crane with 360-degree rotation. The freestanding crane was base plate mounted and included a strap hoist attachment to securely lift boats without causing any damage. To make the system weather resistant, Spanco used a hot-dip galvanization process, which required workers to dip the crane—part by part—into a tank of molten zinc. But, that’s not all. The jib was motorized, which meant that Spanco Engineers had to include a stainless steel drive chain to waterproof the jib drive.

Total Transformation: The yacht club is able to safely lift and transport their boats using a fully weather-resistant 100 Series Freestanding Jib Crane from Spanco. The jib was designed to be rust and corrosion resistant, and the galvanization process protects the steel—and their investment—by acting as a barrier between the crane and the atmosphere.

Kristina Harman

Technical Writer | Spanco.com

Kristina Harman is the senior technical writer and content manager for Spanco, Inc. Kristina has twelve years of experience in content development, technical communications, and copyediting. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in English from Towson University and a Master of Education Certification in English from Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of the Society for Technical Communication and the American Medical Writers Association.

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