If you have seen parallel runways with up on the ceiling overhead and you are in a factory or a similar environment, you have likely seen at least one overhead crane, commonly called a bridge crane. It is named such because across the parallel runways there is a bridge that goes across the space in between the runways. Along the lifting part of the crane is a hoist that moves along the bridge. Finally, if there are two or more rigid leg supports running on a fixed rail on the ground, this is a gantry crane with safety standards governed by the United States (US) American Society of Engineers (ASME) or a goliath crane specified by British Standards (BS) in the United Kingdom (UK).
Overhead cranes are typically used for either maintenance or manufacturing requirements. Moveable cranes may not be as efficient or productive for these applications, and while the overheads share similar major components there are different configurations based on various applications.
For example, there is the Rotary Overhead Crane (ROC) which has one end of the bridge mounted on a fixed pivot and the other end carried on an annular track which engages surfaces of different diameters. The bridge traverses the circular area beneath. The ROC offers improvement over a jib crane because a longer reach is possible as is the elimination of lateral stains on the walls of the building.
Also, an Electric Overhead Travelling Crane (EOT) is the most common type of crane in most factories. EOTs are electrically operated from a control pendant station, Radio Frequency (RF) or Infrared Wireless (IR) remote pendant. The difference between RF and IR is that the latter cannot pass through walls.
Overhead cranes are commonly used in the refinement of steel and other metals such as copper and aluminium. At every step of the manufacturing process, until it leaves a factory as a finished product, metal is handled by an overhead crane. Raw materials are poured into a furnace by crane, hot metal is then rolled to specific thickness and tempered or annealed, and then stored by an overhead crane for cooling, the finished coils are lifted and loaded onto trucks and trains by overhead crane, and the fabricator or stamper uses an overhead crane to handle the steel in his factory. The automobile industry uses overhead cranes to handle raw materials. Smaller workstation cranes, such as jib cranes or gantry cranes, handle lighter loads in a work area, such as CNC mill or saw.
Almost all paper mills use bridge cranes for regular maintenance needing removal of heavy press rolls and other equipment. The bridge cranes are used in the initial construction of paper machines because they make it easier to install the heavy cast iron paper drying drums and other massive equipment, some weighing as much as 70 tons.
Overhead cranes can range from lifting and manipulating materials from one to 300 tons.
One consideration: In many instances the cost of a bridge crane can be largely offset with savings from not renting mobile cranes in the construction of a facility that uses a lot of heavy process equipment.
The history of this series of cranes is an interesting one, starting with Demag Cranes & Components Corp. which was among the first in the world to produce the first steam-powered crane in the 1900’s.
In 1876, Sampson Moore designed the first ever electric overhead crane. The overhead crane has a rich history of invention and innovation that is ongoing to this day.
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